Dogs can be dirty little beasties at times. They eat poop, lick at dead things, eat garbage and make a meal outta dirt! Yuck! With this type of behavior, our loyal pals are bound to pick up an unwanted traveller at any time during their lives. These 'unwanted travelers' come as 'host-guests' in the form of parasites, such as worms. Once these unwanted host guests invade your dog's body, they can be transferred to playmates and humans alike!
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So observe carefully if your dog has diarrhea, licks or chews under its tail, has shortness of breath, is vomiting or losing weight, you may want to pay a visit to the vet - your dog may have worms!
Location, Location, Location!
Treatment relies upon the worm's location and worm type found in your dogs body.
There are many types of parasites that can worm their way into your dog's body. Most that infect dogs are of the intestinal variety and include roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and hookworms. In order to test for these intestinal worms you'll need a stool sample from your dog which your vet will check under a microscope.
Many safe medicines are available for deworming your dog. Either an injection or oral medication will be administered by your vet. These medicines are called 'broad spectrum" medicines because they treat a variety of ailments, including worms that take up residence in your dog's stomach.
Puppies & Adult Dosages
Puppies are recommended to be dewormed when they're 2 to 3 weeks old because worms are so common in pups. Worms can be transferred from mother to baby even before the pup is born and then afterwards through mother's milk! Medicine administered will be in 2 doses. The 1st dose kills the present worms and the 2nd dose eliminates the worms that hatch weeks later.
Treatment for the adult dog is similar to that of pups. The drugs are the same but they're administered in larger doses.
Blood Sucking Hookworms
If your dog has hookworms that hang onto the wall of the intestines and drain blood, your vet may have no choice but to give your dog blood.
The Dreaded Heartworm
Another worm, the Heartworm, is a very serious parasite that can grow up to a foot long and cause all kinds of problems for your dog, even death! The Heartworm lives in the heart, lungs and blood vessels and is transmitted by mosquitoes from one dogs blood to another.
This parasite requires your dog to take a barrage of tests before medicine is administered. Your vet will need to do blood work, take X-rays and other tests to determine how serious the infection. These tests are expensive (in excess of $1,000) but they're necessary.
Afterwards your dog will most likely be started on monthly Heartworm prevention medicine along with an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory.
The actual treatment begins about a month later with a powerful drug made from a poison called arsenic. This should only be administered by the vet! The dosages are usually a series of three shots over two months. Treatment for Heartworm is extremely difficult and dangerous. Some people may, in fact, decide not to treat it at all, or take a minimal treatment path.
After the shots you must keep your dog quiet for a month (or even longer) because the heart worms that have died, break up into chunks that can block the blood flowing to your dog's heart and lungs. If your dog exercises or becomes excited, the blood may pump harder and there's a chance your dog could die from a blockage! Make certain your vet gives you instructions on caring for your dog during this critical period.
Heartworm treatment will continue six months later when your vet does another blood test to check if your dog is clear of worms. If the worms are still present your dog will have to continue with the shots. If the worms have been cleared, your dog will just have to continue on with the preventative medicine the first day of every month.
Of course, The best medicine is preventative medicine.
• Control the pests that carry worms. This includes fleas and mosquitoes.
• Keep your home and yard clean. Pick up and dispose of poop promptly.
• Wash hands often, especially after picking up doggie waste.
• Have your vet check your dog for worms every year. Two to four times a year for puppies.
• Get Heartworm preventative medicine from your vet and never, ever, skip a dose!
And last, if you're really worried about catching worms, don't allow your dog to kiss or lick you or your children. And make them sleep in their own beds.
I, myself wouldn't be able to follow these last two tips. Doggie kisses are the best in the world and how can you deny your dog bed space? Really :(
By Tom Matteo