There are two basic types of intestinal worms which infect dogs in the U.K., roundworms and tapeworms. Roundworms resemble strands of spaghetti, and can be up to 18cm long. The eggs are passed in large numbers in the faeces of infected dogs, and can survive for up to 3 years in the environment. Most puppies also pick up these worms via their mother’s milk. Tapeworms look like strings of flattened rice grains, and can grow up to 500cm - yes, 5m!!
‘But my dog never passes worms’ I here you say. Read on….
Light infestations of worms easily go unnoticed by even the most vigilant of owners. It is only when the infestation is really high, that symptoms become obvious and your dog suffers a general loss of condition: rough, dry coat, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea and/or constipation, and anaemia.
As worms are picked up from the grass and pavements, and then ingested as our dogs groom, it is virtually impossible to stop dogs from picking up worms, and this is why regular worming is advised.
We recommend the use of Drontal Plus for adult dogs, a multi-worming treatment, used every 3 months, and Panacur paste for puppies under 12 weeks of age. There is always much debate about when to worm; this is because worming medications have no residual activity, in other words, they kill all the worms in your dog on the day of treatment, but if your pet picks up a worm the very next day, that will remain in their intestines until you next worm them. Years ago we used to recommend worming dogs once a year, then it was every 6 months, then every 4, and now it is every 3 months. The reason behind this is simple: worms in humans are on the increase, and we catch them from our pets!
Recently the South East has seen an increase in the incidence of Lungworm infections. Lungworm is one of the roundworms picked up in the environment and spread about by slugs and snails. It is a particularly nasty worm which can cause a bleeding disorder leading to a spectrum of symptoms including pneumonia, lameness, seizures, and it can be fatal. The treatment of choice is a topical flea-prevention medication, Advocate, that is applied to the skin on the back of the neck. As Advocate treats fleas, mites and roundworms we recommend regular use throughout the year and then a Drontal Plus tablet just once or twice a year to cover tapeworm.
When was your dog last wormed……?!