Of all the parasitic infections that dogs may suffer from, roundworm is arguably the most commonplace. Indeed, many pet care professionals believe that virtually all dogs are likely to be infected with roundworm at some time or another in their lifetime.
The goal of this article is then to offer you a brief introduction to the problems surrounding roundworm. We’ll look at the causes of infections, what the effects of a roundworm infection can be, and how roundworms can be eliminated painlessly.
How Your Dog Catches Roundworms
As roundworms are so common, many dogs around your local neighbourhood are likely to be infected, even if they have received treatment in the past. The treatment for roundworms, which we will cover later on, simply kills the existing infestation; it doesn’t protect your dog from future attacks.
Due to the number of dogs in any given area, and how common infections are, this means that it is entirely possible for your dog to be infected by others, even if they don’t come into direct contact.
Broadly speaking there are two ways in which dogs become infected with roundworms.
On the one hand, puppies may contract the infection from an infected parent, the parasites being passed on from mother to pup. On the other hand, the lifecycle of the roundworm means that infective eggs and larvae are constantly being ejected from infected dogs in their faeces. As other dogs sniff around these faeces; sometimes even months later, they can inadvertently inhale the larvae and become infected.
This means that protecting against roundworm infections can be very difficult indeed, as there are risks anywhere that other dogs may have been present within the last few weeks or even months.
The Problems Associated with Roundworms
In all honesty, the vast majority of roundworm infestations occur with no real problems for your dog. Most adult dogs are capable of carrying a population without problems and it is unlikely to cause them too much discomfort or sickness.
However in young pups or older dogs the effects of a roundworm infection can be far more extreme. In such cases the symptoms of roundworm infection can include diarrhoea, vomiting, poor coat quality and a loss of weight. This is quite simply because a heavy infestation of parasites will all be feeding off your pet, causing it to weaken over time as nutrients are stolen by the parasites.
That said, some owners of even healthy adult dogs may become concerned on discovering the ejected worms within their dog’s faeces. When you stoop to clear up your dog’s mess you may notice small thread-like white or grey worms moving around within the faeces, and more often than not this is a symptom that your dog is infected with roundworm.
It should be noted that the worm which causes these infestations – known as “Toxocara” – can also infect humans. It is for this reason that dog owners are advised to be very careful when handling dog mess or spending time in areas where dogs are likely to have been in the past. Try to avoid putting your hands near your mouth and remember to wash your hands thoroughly after such situations.
How to Eliminate Roundworms
Despite all the negatives mentioned so far about roundworm there is one glimmer of good news; namely that roundworm infestations are reasonably easy to treat. Many of the more popular worming tablets will eliminate roundworms effortlessly.
It should be noted that most of the existing dog wormers only eliminate the adult worms, while the eggs and larvae may remain active. This means that a second, and possibly even third, treatment may be necessary in order to fully eliminate the parasite from your dog’s body.
Due to the ease with which roundworm can re-infect your dog, it is recommended that regular testing be carried out. Some vets recommend checking stool samples every few months for any infestation while others simply recommend regular worming as the safest and easiest way to hold such parasitic infestations under control.