Worming Your Dog

Your dog should be treated for the prevention of worms at least twice a year – more often if your dog is a scavenger. There are two main groups of worms which affect dogs – roundworms and tapeworms. Worm infestation can cause abnormal hunger, diarrhea, poor growth, itching around the bottom and general loss of condition.

Untreated dogs can pass worms on to other dogs, via the eggs which are deposited in the feces when the dog goes to the toilet. The eggs are then moved around by the wind and on the soles of people’s shoes, or by sticking to the feet of passing dogs. That dog then licks himself and ingests the eggs, causing the dog to becoming infested.

An un-wormed dog could also cause a disease in humans called Visceral Larva Migrans, which is caused by ingesting the egg of the roundworm Toxocara Canis. Children are particularly at risk, as they tend to put their hands near or into their mouths, especially if they should do so after touching a piece of ground infected with the worm eggs, or if they are petting a dog that has worms. The egg can enter via contact from hand to mouth, and, in very severe cases, can cause blindness or mental retardation. Although these cases are rare, simple precautions such as always washing your hands after handling a dog, particularly a strange dog, and ensuring that your dog is regularly treated for worms, will prevent this from happening.

It is worth noting that un-wormed cats carry a similar worm – Toxocara Cati which can also cause the same disease in humans as Toxocara Canis.

You must treat your dog for worms, even if you never see any actual evidence – the eggs which pass from the dog via the faces are minute. If you should see what appear to be small grains of rice in the faces and around the anal area, that is very clear evidence that your dog has a severe infestation of tapeworms. If you see what look like strands of spaghetti in the faces or vomit, you can be sure that your dog has a roundworm infestation.

There is also a strain of tapeworm, which, if ingested during its development stage, can affect humans, causing a disease called Hydatidosis, which affects the liver and lungs. The good news is that cases of this disease are extremely rare.

All this unpleasantness can be avoided if all dog owners abide by the following simple rules:

1. All puppies should be wormed before leaving the breeder, at three weeks and five weeks of age. They should be wormed again twice more by the time they reach 13 weeks. Thereafter they should be regularly wormed every six months throughout their lives.

Get the worm prevention treatment from your veterinary surgeon – tablets and powders from the pet shop are not as effective.

2. Bitches who are about to be bred from should be wormed prior to mating and again after the puppies are weaned.

3. All faces should be removed daily from the garden and burned or hygienically disposed of. Always remove any faeces your dog leaves behind when out on exercise.

4. Always wash your hands after handling your dog, before consuming food.

By following these simple procedures, you can be assured that you have taken all possible steps to prevent your dog passing the infection to other dogs or humans.
by Kathy Davison