As a responsible dog owner, it is important for you to worm your dog regularly. Here are some of the things for you to consider:
* All dogs at some point during their life have worms. Most commonly during puppyhood.
* Dogs with worms may not show signs of illness, except when the worms are present in large volumes.
* Puppies are most at risk from worm infections. Worms are passed from the mother before and after birth through the milk. Infestation may cause with loss, vomiting, diarrhoea, or a swollen abdomen. Puppies should be wormed from two-three weeks of age at two weekly intervals until they are 12 weeks of age, then every month until they are six months of age. Worming should continue at least twice a year with a recommended veterinary preparation for the rest of the dog’s life.
* Pregnant bitches should be wormed at the time of mating and again when the puppies are one week old.
* The two main types of worms are Tapeworms (Dipylidium species) and Roundworms (Toxocara Canis).
* Most worms will live in the intestine and feed on the partly digested food.
* Tapeworms can appear like white grains of rice, which are joined together to form a tape. These are most commonly found in adult dogs.
* Roundworms are spread through direct contact (dog to dog).
* Tapeworms are spread through an intermediate host (most commonly the flea).
Life-cycle of the Roundworm (Toxocara canis)
* The eggs (which are not visible) are passed in the faeces.
* The dog then eats the eggs during licking and cleaning.
* These hatch into larvae in the intestine and then travel through the liver to the bloodstream and then enter the lungs.
* They pass through the lungs where they are coughed up and then swallowed. At this stage, the larvae develop into adults which produce eggs and the cycle starts again.
* The larvae often remain in “cyst” form in the muscle of the dog. This is harmless to the dog, although during pregnancy, the larvae cysts can become active again, infecting the puppies through the bloodstream.
* Some public parks can become heavily contaminated with worm eggs, which can case a potential risk to young children in the form of Toxocariasis. In extreme cases this can cause severe illness and even affect eyesight. The incidence of this is rare, although it has received much publicity.
Life-cycle of the Tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum)
* The tapeworm attaches itself to the wall of the intestine and the segments, which contain the eggs, are passed out through the rectum, often in faeces.
* The eggs (which are not visible) are shed once the segments split on hitting the ground.
* These eggs may be picked up by the larvae of the flea (the intermediate host).
* The tapeworm egg then develops to become infective inside the adult stage of the flea.
* The dog then eats the flea during licking and cleaning and becomes infected with tapeworm.
(The intermediate host is necessary to form part of the life-cycle, more development stages take place in the intermediate host).
* Both worms are easy to eliminate and suitable preparations are available through your veterinary surgeon.
* Remember puppies and pregnant bitches require regular repeated worming. Ask your vet for advice.
* Adult dogs should be wormed at least twice a year.
* Remember, if your dog has tapeworm you must also treat him for fleas.
* As a responsible pet owner, you should discourage your dog from fouling in public places, parks and children’s play areas. Always carry a poop-scoop or plastic beg with you to clean up after your dog. Regular worming will help to minimise the amount of egg contamination tin the environment.