Roundworm infection can have numerous negative effects. Roundworms spend their time floating inside the liver, heart, and the lungs of your dog’s body. When they mature, they make their home inside the small intestines where they continually feed on the food that your dog eats. It is a common cause of diarrhea in young animals. When it causes vomiting, often the worms themselves are vomited up. This can be quite shocking because the worms can be quite large, the females reach lengths of up to seven inches.
The worms consume the animal’s food taking the nutrients away from the dog leading to a pot bellied appearance. Very heavy infections can lead to pneumonia as the worms migrate into the lungs. If there are enough worms, the intestine can actually become obstructed creating a number of additional health problems.
You should be aware that human infection by this parasite is especially serious. It is important to take steps to keep the soil or yard free of feces from infected animals in order to limit infection to other animals and their caregivers.
How Roundworm Infection is Spread to Dogs
Puppies can be born with roundworms if a the mother is infected, the puppies will be infected during embryonic development. After birth, puppies can be infected when nursing from an infected mother dog. Further, a puppy or adult dog can consume, through the mouth, infective worm eggs from soil in the environment, typically through normal grooming. Additionally, dogs that have more freedom to roam can consume a prey animal that is carrying developing worms such as mice or rats.
How to Tell if your Dog is Infected
There are a few of ways to find out if your dog is infected. Some signs of infection include dull coat, enormous surges in appetite , loss of weight, vomiting, diarrhea and gas, and bloating or the appearance of a pot belly. If a dog or puppy vomits up a worm, it is likely a roundworm, especially in a puppy. Roundworms are long, white and look like spaghetti. Other intentional parasites can be vomited up such as tapeworms but these are flat and segmented. If you are not sure what type of worm you are seeing, with a gloved hand place it in a bag and take it to your dog’s veterinarian along with the dog.
If you don’t have a worm in a bag the other way to detect roundworms is from a fecal sample. Fecal testing for worm eggs is recommended for puppies and suggested for adult dogs having their annual check up.
How to Eliminate Roundworms
A number of deworming products are available. Some of these products require a prescription and some can be purchased at a pet store or on-line. Many flea control and/or heartworm prevention products provide a monthly deworming which is especially helpful in minimizing environmental contamination.
A word of caution about deworming. Dog medications essentially anesthetize the worm so that it let’s go of its grip on the host intestine and passes with the stool. Once it has been passed, it cannot survive in the environment and dies. This means that you will likely see the worms when they pass so be prepared as they can be quite long and may still be alive and moving when you see them.
A natural means of riding your dog of worms can be found using holistic dog remedies. Certain herbs in these homeopathic remedies make the intestine of the host inhospitable to internal parasites. The benefit of this type of natural dog medicines is it is healthy and effective without the unwanted side effects sometimes associated with synthetic parasite medication.