Worms are almost inevitable in dogs, so knowing what to look for and how to treat them is important for your dog’s health.
Worms in puppies
Most puppies are actually born with worms, so puppies should be wormed at 2,4,6,8 and 12 weeks of age, then every 3 months for life with an all wormer. Pregnant and nursing mothers should also be treated at mating, before birth of puppies and then every three months age. Heavy worm infestations in puppies should be repeated 10 days after an initial does is administered.
Worm warning signs
- Weakness and listlessness.
- Diarrhoea or vomiting.
- Weight loss despite a good appetite.
- Abnormally swollen stomach.
Types of worms
Roundworm can be contracted via infected poo or dirt. This thin, spaghetti-like parasite, about 12cm long, can cause a potbellied appearance. Symptoms can include weight loss, weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea or mucus in the stool, and stunted growth.
Hookworm is one of the most dangerous of all intestinal parasites. It can be transmitted from mothers to puppies before birth or through suckling. It may be detected by the level of your puppies’ lethargy, anaemia, poor appetite and black tarlike stools that contains blood.
Tapeworm can infect a dog when it eats its larvae from a host animal, such as a flea or a mouse. There are no obvious symptoms, but small, rice-like segments can be found around the pet’s anus or in the puppies stool. Mature tapeworms cause your puppy to eat more than normal, but with no weight gain.
Whipworm will find its way to your dog’s digestive tract, causing chronic bowel inflammation. You may notice mucus in the stools, weight loss or diarrhoea.
Coccidia is an organism that can live in your puppies’ intestines, sometimes ingested via raw or undercooked meat, including rodents. Symptoms can include diarrhoea, fever, weight loss and loss of appetite.
Heartworm can enter a dog from the bite of a mosquito. It causes heart or lung damage, coughing, lethargy, fatigue, and can be fatal. Heartworms can be detected through a blood test. It is difficult to cure, though simple to prevent. Ask your vet about treatment.
Ringworm is caused by a fungus that lives on the skin and is very contagious; it can also be transmitted to humans. Ringworm appears as oval bare patches on your dogs’ skin. To minimise the risk, avoid unnecessary contact with other dogs. If you suspect your dog has ring worm you will need to take your dog to your veterinarian as ringworm can only be detected under an ultraviolet light, once detected your veterinarian will be able to administer the correct treatment.
It’s a good idea to dispose of the stool when your dog goes to the toilet outside. This will help to prevent re-infestation, and will also protect playmates as well. In addition, some types of worms (roundworms and hookworms) can cause problems for humans. This is uncommon, but it’s still a good idea to use proper hygiene measures. It is important to treat your dog during the important early stages and to maintain throughout its adult life. Regular vet checks and discussion if you have concerns is always recommended.
About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre
The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.