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How often do you worm a dog and puppy?

How often do you worm a dog and puppy?
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How often do you worm a dog and puppy?

When it comes to the health and wellbeing of your pet, it never hurts to be prepared. Most first-time owners may not be familiar with the importance of worming and the same goes for anyone whose pet may have had puppies for the first time.

Worms usually represent a minor nuisance in the grand scheme of pet ownership, but worming your dog is part of responsible pet ownership as dogs are the source of worms in human beings which can cause serious health issues. Petplan looks at how often you should worm your dogs and puppies.

What are worms? How do dogs get worms?

First, let’s look at what exactly these worms are. You probably know the basics e.g. they’re a parasite and not good for your dog, but how do they actually harm your dog?

The main two worms that affect dogs in the UK are roundworms and tapeworm. “Ringworm”, which is caused by a fungus is not an internal parasite and is not prevented by ‘wormers’.

Roundworms are intestinal parasites that look like spaghetti inside the intestine. Adult dogs are less commonly affected than puppies. Roundworm eggs are microscopic and are often passed in apparently normal faeces. These eggs can be picked up on the hands of children playing in soil and sandpits and lead to infections in humans. Many puppies are likely to have worms at birth as they infect the puppy across the mother’s placenta. They are also transmitted via their mother’s milk.

Tapeworms are a form of intestinal worms. The tapeworm lifecycle is dependent on an intermediate host, which usually must be consumed by the final host, (people or pets) in order to infect them. The most common tapeworm of dogs uses fleas as its intermediate host. Dogs acquire fleas whilst nibbling or grooming or in response to a flea bite, thus ingesting the tapeworm infected flea.

Lungworms, as the name suggests, live in a dog’s respiratory system. Like the tapeworm, their lifecycle is also dependent on an intermediate host, which is mainly slugs and snails. Dogs acquire lungworm but eating grass with snails or snail trails attached, as well playing with toys that have been left outside where snails can contact.

Symptoms of worms

It can be difficult to tell whether your dog has worms, but there are a few signs that may be suggestive. These may include any or all of the following:

  • ‘Scooting’, or dragging the bottom along the ground
  • Visible worms or eggs in your dog’s faeces or fur around its bottom
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Diarrhoea or vomiting
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding (in the case of lungworm)

If your dog has worms for a prolonged period of time these symptoms may become more obvious. Untreated worms can lead to weight loss, fatigue, and in some cases even death, so you should always contact a vet if you have any concerns.

How to treat worms

The best way to treat a dog with worms is using worming tablets. Keep on top of things by regularly worming your dog. Different medications recommend different periods of time. Having your dog insured may help in these kind of situations.

Worms are common in puppies, so knowing how to treat them is vital. Puppies should be wormed at five, eight and twelve weeks old, and then at least every three months for the rest of their lives to ensure they do not pick up worms.

Other types of worm

Dogs can also contract hookworm, whipworm and heartworm. Heartworm is not indigenous to the UK but can be contracted if travelling abroad.

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