Worms in Dogs are One of the Most Common Health Issues
Most worms are parasitic, some aren’t actually worms, but bacterial infections – like ringworm, for instance. The warm and moist climate of Florida is ideal for the squirmy, as well as for bacteria to grow and thrive and it is almost impossible to keep your dog 100% safe. The most common worms dogs are affected by are heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms.
If you think that just because your dog is mainly inside, not around other dogs or just in your own backyard your pup is safe from getting worms – think again. It’s actually really easy for any dog to get worms. Ingesting or sniffing dirt. Eating or chewing on geckos or rodents, eating their feces or even just licking their own paws after stepping into the latter. Drinking from puddles or ponds or just swallowing water swimming. That’s all it takes! Heartworm, in turn, is transmitted through different kinds of mosquitos.
Puppies and younger dogs are usually more apt to contract worms. They often get exposed in their mother’s belly (roundworm). They also have not been on a preventative for a longer period of time, which helps to build more of a resistance, and their immune system isn’t as well developed yet.
How do you know, if your Dog has worms?
Most common signs that your dog may have worms are coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, low energy, pot belly, change in appetite, losing weight, dull coat, itching, scooting their bottom across the floor, skin irritations (specially in ringworm), visible worms in fur or stool (especially roundworms, who look similar to rice corns, often still moving), and bloody stool. In early stages it may be very hard to tell any changes in your dog, which why regular fecal exams at your vet are almost mandatory. Worm infestations that remain untreated may damage your dogs internal organs and in worst cases may lead to unconsciousness and death.
I am generally not a big fan of stuffing dogs with lots of medications, but especially living in a warm, humid climate such as Florida, you should make sure you keep your dog on a worm preventative and that you are very diligent about not missing the date to administer your pooch’s (most commonly) monthly dose. Preventatives are, unfortunately, already no guarantee your dog won’t still end up being affected by one worm or the other, but “lapses” in prevention make it even more likely.
Heartworm is the most damaging and can easily cost you thousands of dollars to treat!
The most important preventative is undeniably the one protecting against heartworm – which is the hardest to spot early on, the most damaging and the most expensive and time consuming to treat (you’re easily spending thousands over many months!).
Luckily, most (actual) worms are eliminated fairly easy. Usually administration of two rounds of a dewormer in an about 10 to 14 day time frame. The second round is necessary, since the dewormer will not kill or eliminate any eggs that may be in your dog’s intestine. Dose #2 will take care of any worms that hatch after the first dose has been given. Bacterial “worms” are most commonly treated with antibiotics and administering Ivermectin. Treatments for Ringworm typically also include topical solutions, such as special baths and ointments. Beware, btw, that humans are also susceptible to ringworm, roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms!
Do you suspect your dog may have worms or just want peace of mind for your pup and your family? It’s as easy as getting a fecal sample tested at your dog’s vet. And don’t pass on the annual parasite blood screen to catch anything that your pooch might be “hosting”! Fecal exams for your dog generally don’t run more than $20 – $30 at your vet. And you usually don’t need an appointment or take your dog in. Just bring the sample and you will be notified of the result within a few days max.
13 Everyday Foods to Get Rid of Dog Worms
That’s the title of a great blog post I found on “dogs naturally”. It’s also where I came across the nifty infographic on the different worms. Go check out their post here!