Both intestinal worms and heartworms are an ever-present threat, leading to life-threatening results if ignored. The best action plan to keep your pet safe from worms is to administer vet-recommend dewormers and preventives.
The following are seven facts about worms you need to know.
- Dogs with Worms Can Be Asymptomatic: In many cases, the clinical signs of worms are hard to miss. Dogs with worms often exhibit severe diarrhoea, sudden weight loss, and bloody stool. However, in some cases, symptoms are impossible to spot. Dogs continue to look healthy even though they have a severe worm infestation. A routine deworming schedule needs to be maintained to keep your pet safe.
- Worms Can Be Passed on to Humans: Some intestinal worms can be passed from dogs to humans. For example, if accidentally ingested, roundworm eggs can affect human health. These eggs can be present in the backyard or anywhere where dog stool is present. Young kids are especially susceptible who sometimes develop the habit of eating dirt or accidentally getting dirt in their mouths. Once a roundworm egg enters the system, it can quickly multiply and lead to different health problems, including permanent blindness.
- Ringworm is Not a Worm: Yup, ringworms are not worms. Worms do not even cause them in any way. They are an unofficial term for a type of fungal infection. These fungal skin infections are usually round, which is probably how they got their name.
- Deworming Needs to Be Done Periodically for It to Remain Effective: Unlike some vaccines which need to be given once in a lifetime, there are no one-off dewormers. You need to periodically administer deworming meds to protect your pet from intestinal worms. In most cases, a single dose of preventive medication protects a dog from worms for 30 days.
- Worm Medication Can Be Given Topically or Orally: You have two standard options, oral and topical, for deworming medications. Spot-on wormers like the popular Advantage Multi Dogs solution are available in single-dose plastic vials and tubes. This liquid medication needs to be applied directly to the skin (back of the neck so it cannot be licked off). There are also oral pills that need to be fed to the dog once every month.
- Stool Sampling Is the Go-To Test to Detect Intestinal Worms: In most cases, vets would recommend a stool sample test to confirm worm infestation. Apart from spotting actual worms in the stool, vets also look out for bloody stool, signify hookworm infestation. The collected stool is dissolved in a unique solution and then studied.
- Heartworm Test Can Be Negative Even If Your Dog Has Worms: Heartworm antigen tests can detect the presence of adult heartworms. This means if a heartworm infected mosquito bites your dog, it may take as much as six months (till the time the larvae become adult worms) to show up on the test. To be safe, make sure to get your dog tested every 12 months.