A severe worm infestation can kill a puppy due to the resulting malnutrition and loss of blood (anaemia).
Another thing to remember is that infected adult dogs may either appear completely normal, or show signs such as a dry, dull coat, diarrhoea, and loss of weight. So dogs that don’t show any symptoms may be passing worms onto you when you touch and play with them. Some of these worm infections can be fatal in humans.
What are the most common types of worms in dogs?
How does my pet get infected?
- Flea larvae feed on tapeworm eggs, and then pets ingest fleas containing those worm eggs when grooming themselves.
- Puppies can be infected while in the womb or from the mother’s milk while suckling.
- Eating soil/faeces (accidental or on purpose) containing worm eggs.
- Eating mice or rats that have swallowed worm larvae.
- Worms burrowing through skin (e.g. the foot pads) in contact with soil/water.
- This worm is becoming more prevalent in South Africa — especially in Durban and now Gauteng. These worms form tumours in the body, often in the oesophagus, making it difficult for the dog to swallow food and water.
- Dogs are infected by eating infected dung beetles, faeces, rats, or birds.
- To avoid infection, owners need to use MILBEMAX or ADVOCATE spot-on every month of the dog’s life.
- Infection can sometimes be cured using these products if caught early enough, but prevention is recommended as these cases are often noticed too late.
What are the signs of worm infestation in my dog?
- Bloated tummy
- Coughing due to immature worm stages migrating up the windpipe causing the dog to cough up and then swallow them
- Vomiting (because worms irritate the stomach lining)
- Diarrhoea/unformed stool with mucous and blood
- Adult worms or “rice-grain” like immature worms in your dog’s stool
- Weight loss
- Pale gums
- Bone abnormalities and slow growth due to malnutrition
How often should I deworm my dog?
Remember to deworm all dogs and cats in the household. Dogs older than 12 weeks: Deworm every 3 months for life.
Deworming of mother:
- First treatment at 2 weeks before giving birth.
- Second treatment 2 weeks after giving birth.
- Thereafter every 2 weeks until weaning.
- Weaned puppies should be dewormed every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age.
Spirocerca Lupi prevention: Deworm with Milbemax or Advocate every month
- Drontal (roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms)
- Revolution (also effective for fleas, ticks, mange, heartworm & ear mites)
- Advocate (also effective for Spirocerca lupi, fleas, mange, heartworm & ear mites)
- Program Plus (also effective for fleas and heartworm)
What kind of reactions can dewormers cause?
Temporary side effects are usually mild and should pass within 24 hours:
- Mild diarrhoea and vomiting
- Live worms in your dog’s stool — this is because some dewormers cause paralysis of the worms which then lose their grip on the gut wall.
- Temporary loss of appetite
Signs of Overdose:
- Dewormers dispensed from vetshops and practices are very safe – up to 10 times overdose and your dog may drool excessively, be lethargic, tremble, or appear unsteady on its feet —these signs are temporary and should disappear after 24 hours.
Emergency situations — take your dog to the vet immediately if you are concerned or notice the following:
- Allergic reactions/shock — pale gums, breathing difficulty, seizures, and collapse
- In cases of heavy worm infestation, the digestive tract may become blocked with dead worms which may require surgery to remove. Signs include prolonged vomiting and abdominal pain.
What conditions can these worms cause in humans and how can I avoid being infected?
Certain species of worms can be transmitted to people (especially children) by contact with infected dogs which may result in:
- Worms migrating into human organs/eyes/skin
- Epilepsy due to worm migration to the brain
- Asthma due to worm migration through the lungs
- Diarrhoea due to an allergic reaction to worms
- Worm egg capsules forming in the liver and lungs
- Human dewormers don’t work on the worms you can get from animals so it’s best to deworm your pet every 3 months to be safe.
- Treat your dogs monthly for fleas.
- People should wash their hands immediately after ablutions or contact with animals, and not allow pets to lick them in the face.
- Remove dog faeces regularly, especially if your pet is prone to eating it.
- Don’t feed your pets raw offal.
- Rinse all vegetables before use.
Are there other diseases in dogs that can cause similar signs to worm infestation?
Yes, one of the most common conditions can be that your dog’s anal glands are full — this can make them scoot on their bums too. If you have dewormed your dog at least twice and the problem does not clear up, it’s best to see your vet.
Contact Ashburne Veterinary Clinic if you have any questions