Parasites in dogs take many forms, but they all have one thing in common: sooner or later their presence will almost always have an impact on your pet’s health or comfort.
Dogs can pick up worms in a number of places. Dog parks, city sidewalks, along the side of the road, kennels… basically, anywhere other dogs have been. They can also pick them up from the waste left behind from other animals, so the threat is always there.
Some fleas also carry “worms.”
Worms are actually parasites. Tapeworm, heartworm, hookworm, and whipworms can all easily get into your dogs system and make them very sick.
Heartworms can be fatal. Hookworms can be lethal to puppies.
You can treat the problem early if you know what to look for. Here’s what to look out for:
- Weight loss accompanied by a marked increase or decrease in appetite
- Distended abdomen, or ‘pot-bellied’ appearance
- Diarrhea/chronic soft stools
- Chronic coughing
- Dulling of coat and/or hair loss accompanied by skin irritation/inflammation
- Rubbing or dragging the hindquarters across the ground
- Visible presence of segments of tapeworms in dogs attached to the skin and fur around the anus/hind quarters area
- Visible presence of roundworms in dogs in infected stool, like tiny grains of rice
The most important thing to do is get them to a vet. While not all of these parasites are life-threatening, they all have to be killed with medicine that only your vet can give you. Home remedies do not work, and are not worth the risk. Plus, many over the counter meds only treat one type of parasite. You cannot be sure which type your pup has until you have your vet run tests.
What Types of Worms Can Your Dog Get?
Hookworms – These little bloodsuckers get into your dog’s intestines where they cause a lot of discomfort. They can make your dog very sick. The biggest problem they cause is malnutrition, which can literally starve a small puppy by robbing them of the nutrients they need.
Puppies will need 2 or more treatments to get rid of hookworms.
Heartworms – Mosquitos are a huge threat to your dogs. With the recent rash of Zika virus spreading in humans, they’re a threat to us as well, but a simple mosquito bit can bring your dog heartworms.
These can be fatal if left untreated. They can grow over 12-inches long, and will attach themselves inside your dog’s heart and arteries.
Monthly preventative medicines keep heartworms away, but your vet can treat the problem in the unfortunate event that your dog is bitten and infected with heartworms. Getting the problem solved early is key.
If you notice lethargy, coughing, vomiting, or trouble breathing, get your dog to the vet asap.
1 – 2 treaments are usually needed to kill heartworms.
Tapeworm – Another parasite that comes from flying pests, tapeworm are ingested when dogs lick their fur to get rid of fleas. They swallow the flea, and the tapeworm enters their system.
These are small, and can often be detected in your dog’s feces. If you see what looks like rice – tiny, white grains – then your dog probably has tapeworm.
Luckily, these are not lethal, and can be easily treated with an oral medication.
Vet Care is Key in Killing Worms
Most worms can be killed in 1 – 2 treatments, and the cost of care is pretty low. Pet insurance will usually cover the vet visit and medications. If you notice any of the above warning signs, get your little buddy to the vet fast, and you’ll have those parasites dead and gone in no time, leaving your pet feeling better, and safe from internal harm.