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How do I know if my dog has worms?

When a dog is infected with worms, he will adopt certain behaviors that can alert an attentive owner. Knowing how to spot these signs is fundamental to react as quickly as possible in order to rid the animal of this vermin that could represent a danger to its health. It is equally important to prevent the appearance of worms in dogs, especially since they can be transmitted to humans. Let's take stock of the situation.

Types of worms in dogs

There are two types of worms that can parasitize the colon or small intestine of a dog:
  • Nematodes: these are round worms that are more or less shaped like spaghetti, such as :
    • Trichurians,
    • Hookworms,
    • The ascarids.
  • Cestodes: these are whitish, flat worms that look like a ribbon, including tapeworms, some of which can reach a length of more or less 80 cm.
In the absence of deworming treatment, they represent a sanitary danger for the dog and its entourage because intestinal worms are easily transmitted between animals but also between the dog and man.

Diseases caused by worms in dogs

In the long term, a dog parasitized by worms can suffer from epileptic seizures and some of its organs can be seriously damaged. He is also particularly weakened because his immune system is weakened. Finally, if the parasites have contaminated a puppy still in its development period, they can be responsible for a growth delay.

If left untreated, a dog that is contaminated by worms can develop certain diseases such as :
  • Ascariasis, which can cause nervous disorders,
  • Hookworm disease which can cause severe anemia,
  • Spirocercosis which can be fatal,
  • Bothriocephalosis which is now called diphyllobothriosis with the same consequences as tapeworm,
  • Teniasis which, if not treated quickly, leads to the death of the dog.

How can the dog be contaminated?

The oral route is the most frequent way of contamination, whether it is when the dog ingests certain parasites, eats excrement containing parasites or drinks infested water.

The next most common route is through the skin, where the parasites in their larval form pass through the skin into the dog's digestive tract, where they complete their development.

In some cases, the embryo is contaminated transplacentally.

Finally, a puppy that is breastfed by its mother can be contaminated via the mother's milk.

Worms in dogs: symptoms that should alert you

Intestinal worms multiply rapidly so that in a short period of time a dog can be significantly parasitized. At first, this infestation does not always lead to any particularly visible manifestation. But in a second time, the dog's behavior starts to change because of lesions caused by the worms. The animal then shows some of the following signs:
  • A dull coat,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Vomiting,
  • A bloated belly,
  • A loss of weight,
  • An unquenchable appetite or a loss of appetite depending on the type of worm present in the dog's body,
  • Itching in the anal area that causes the dog to rub its hindquarters on the ground to relieve the discomfort (this is called the sled sign).
To identify the worms, the parasites are detected through complementary examinations such as coproscopy.

Hygiene gestures to respect on a daily basis

The people around a dog parasitized by intestinal worms of any kind must make sure to perform basic hygiene gestures several times a day. It is about :
  • Wash your hands every time you pet the dog,
  • Do not allow the dog to lick humans (adults and children),
  • Wearing gloves and using a specific bag and a dedicated shovel when picking up after a dog,
  • Clean all the places where the animal passes,
  • Change bedding and towels for all family members very frequently, and change clothes that have been worn daily.
Be careful when the dog is allowed to climb on beds, sofas, chairs and armchairs in the house. A suitable disinfectant should be used very often to sanitize this type of furniture, as well as floors, carpets, etc.

Solutions to eliminate worms in dogs and prevent their appearance

For curative purposes, deworming is absolutely mandatory. However, since the symptoms do not appear at the very beginning of an infestation, it is recommended to deworm your dog from the time he is very young until the end of his life at a rate of :
  • Every two or three months until the dog is 12 months old,
  • Twice a year for dogs over 1 year old.
It is very important to do everything possible to prevent worms from invading the dog because the risks of contamination are very high in animals that are not dewormed. By respecting certain principles of hygiene that we have listed above, and by regularly giving the animal a dewormer, we increase protection.

All these solutions (preventive and curative) are essential to protect the health of the animal but also that of humans who share the same environment as their little companion. Let's not forget that these worms are just as dangerous for human health, and even more so for children. For further advice, it is strongly recommended to consult a veterinarian.