“Worm or deworm,” that is the question.
First off, the term “deworm” is not quite right. The Prestige Animal Hospital says the correct word is “worm.” But since “deworm” has become such a used term in pet care as well, let’s use both worm and deworm in this discussion.
Caring for our dogs, from the time they are puppies up to their adult life, is paramount. No matter how constantly we bathe them and keep them away from unclean spaces and situations, there’s no guarantee that they won’t come into contact with bacteria and parasites, ever. Their boundless curiosity always brings the risk of them contracting illnesses brought about by organisms the naked eye cannot see. This article is a guide that will talk about the necessity of deworming, its frequency, and what our dogs can benefit from it.
What is Deworming
When you first take your dog to the vet, this is one of the first things your vet will ask, “Was your dog recently dewormed” or “Do you deworm your him regularly.” If your answer to both questions is no, then your pet is probably up for a round of deworming, especially if it’s still a puppy.
So, what is deworming, and how does it work? Dog walking company Wag defines the process as the removal of worms found internally in a dog’s body. Dog worms are parasites that may threaten a dog’s health. The act of worming a dog prevents further parasitic infestation, as well as the spread of said worms to other canines and humans.
Is Deworming Necessary for my Dog
Apart from boosting a dog’s health, deworming regularly also protects humans that come into contact with them, especially children. Worms can cause a lot of damage to a dog’s body if left untreated. It may lead to intestinal issues, anemia, and skin problems, which may be debilitating or even fatal.
Deworming is an integral part of caring for dogs. A dog owner should not overlook this at all. From the time a dog is born, giving continuous rounds of worming is necessary to eliminate the presence of worms passed on from their mother. It is a must to do this regularly, whether a dog is always indoors or outdoors. It prevents worm infestation caused by roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms, and heartworms.
Roundworm eggs are easily picked up and transmitted from dog to dog. This parasite is one of the most common in dogs, mostly passed on from a mother to its puppies. Puppies can also get infected by coming into contact with, eating, or smelling animal feces contaminated with roundworm eggs.
Young dogs with roundworm infestation may appear pot-bellied, dull-coated, and weak. They will also show signs of vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain, and weight loss. Dog owners must also expect to see roundworms in their dog’s poop or vomit.
Tapeworms, on the other hand, also known as Dipylidium Caninum, may be contracted by dogs who ingest infected fleas. Although these segmented worms are not particularly harmful, an infestation may often lead to considerable weight loss when gone unnoticed. Telltale signs of tapeworms include the rubbing or scooting of your pet’s anus on rough surfaces. Segments are also often seen near the anus, while dried ones may stick to your pet’s fur.
Heartworms, although not caused by intestinal worms, are a parasitic occurrence that affects a dog’s heart and lungs. Resulting from a mosquito bite, it won’t present any symptoms initially, but further damage to your dog’s organs produces a cough and other health problems that could inhibit them from being active.
It usually takes around seven months after being bitten before a dog manifests symptoms of heartworms. This time is when the infected mosquito larvae mature into adults and reproduce inside the body, lodging themselves into your dog’s blood vessels, heart, and lungs. Adult worms of this kind are known to grow more than 10 inches, with a lifespan of five to seven years.
Extensive heartworm disease may produce abnormalities in lung sounds, lead to fluid retention, and cause your pet to pass out from lack of blood circulation to the brain. And because this type of parasites only transmitted through a mosquito bite, heartworm prevention is crucial as a severe infestation can lead to death.
It is essential to take extra precautions for both pups and adult dogs that enjoy playing outdoors and those who frequently come into contact with other dogs. Regular deworming gives dogs an additional line of defense against the complications that may be caused by intestinal worms and other parasites.
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How Often Should I Deworm a Dog
It is important to remember that deworming should start as early as two weeks of age in puppies. It must be repeated twice, weekly, until they reach 12 weeks, and again on the 16th week. After which, it must be administered once monthly to your pet until they reach six months of age. An adult dog must be wormed every six months, or as prescribed by a vet. Doing a continuous worming regimen is necessary for ensuring the elimination of both worm eggs and adult worms in the dog’s body.
It is also essential to deworm newly acquired dogs, regardless of age, before allowing them to interact with your current pack. This first step prevents the risk of infestation among all your dogs. Also, make it a habit of assuming that all newly acquired animals have worms. Deworm adult dogs immediately, and repeat the process after two weeks. After this, the application of a regular deworming program should follow.
For the case of puppies, follow the right schedule, depending on their age, or make sure to heed your veterinarian’s advice first. If you see worms in your dog’s poop, then that should be a telltale sign of an infestation.
Puppies must be brought in for regular check-ups to monitor their health and wellbeing. Adult dogs must also be brought to their vet routinely so that good health may be maintained. Although most wormer medicines orally, it is still best to give these to your pet with supervision or express permission from your vet.
Other Important Things About Deworming
There are lots of worming medications available in the market. The commonly used wormer for pups is called Pyrantel, often sold in the market under several popular brand names. The said medication is usually given in two doses to puppies at three and six weeks old for the prevention of both hookworms and roundworms. The succeeding treatments must be prescribed accordingly by your vet, and will usually depend on your dog’s age, weight, and lifestyle.
Deworming Side Effects
The most common side effects of deworming are gastrointestinal related. Depending on how much infestation there is, the body’s response to the medication may also be intense. Owners may expect their dog to experience side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
Don’t be surprised to see any worms in their waste, as it is normal and part of the effects of dewormers. In some severe cases, worming medication may cause muscle twitching, salivation, and seizures. Dogs undergoing treatment for heartworms are at risk of getting thromboembolism or blockage of blood vessels. Immediately report to your vet, should they show adverse reactions to the worming medication.
Whatever your dog’s breed is, deworming should always be your top priority. More importantly, completing a dose of wormers doesn’t mean lifetime protection, as regularity is still vital. Apart from that, keep the environment clean, remember to wash your hands when handling the worming product, and always pick up after your dog.