As a responsible pet owner, you will undoubtedly be making your dog’s health and wellbeing one of your top priorities. As well as ensuring that your dog has the right nutrition and exercise, keeping an eye out for potential health problems is also essential.
Dogs and other household pets are prone to suffering from health problems caused by parasite infestations. However, while many owners understand the importance of checking for external parasites such as ticks and fleas, many less are aware about the dangers of dogs contracting intestinal worms.
Internal parasites are a common problem that can affect dogs, as well as other household pets. They are most often referred to as worms, as this most closely resembles what internal parasites actually look like. Many people mistakenly believe that worms are just one individual type of parasite. However, there are several different varieties of intestinal worm that can take up residence in your canine’s internal organs.
There are primarily five types of worm that can affect domestic dogs. These are:
Unfortunately, the symptoms of each type of worm vary, as does the way in which your dog could pick up the infestation.
Like any other parasite infestation, worms can have a seriously detrimental effect on the health and wellbeing of your pet. When your dog contracts worms, they feed on his blood which can cause conditions ranging from dehydration and diarrhea, to anemia, malabsorption of food and extreme weight loss.
Another problem is that some types of intestinal worm can be transmitted to the humans in your family, and although cases are rare, the risk is still present. If humans contract intestinal worms, they too can become extremely unwell. Therefore, it is essential to treat any internal parasite infestations as quickly as possible.
As a caring canine owner, your dog relies on you to pick up on any signs and symptoms that he shows you that might indicate he is unwell. As the symptoms of each variety of parasite vary slightly, it can be difficult to tell exactly which type of worm is affecting your pet. In many cases, veterinary intervention is the only way to get a completely accurate diagnosis. However, to help you understand what to look for, we have put together this guide to the appearance and symptoms of the five most common type of parasitic worm.
Roundworms are probably the worm-like in appearance of all internal parasites. Most owners liken them to a piece of cooked spaghetti, and they can grow up to around two inches in length. Although the larvae will initially infect your pet’s intestinal tract, they can burrow into other organs and tissue. They will then absorb nutrients from your pet, causing malnourishment and other associated health problems.
The key symptoms of a roundworm infestation include:
A bloated stomach
Loss of appetite
Roundworms can be seen with the naked eye, and if your dog is infected, you may be able to spot the worms in your canine’s vomit or stools.
Hookworms look extremely similar to roundworms, but their defining characteristic is a set of sharp teeth at one end, which they use to ‘hook’ onto your dog’s intestinal tract. They then draw blood which they use for nutrition. Dogs with hookworm are at increased risk of anemia as a result of the blood loss.
The key symptoms of a hookworm infestation include:
Unexplained weight loss
Like roundworms, hookworms may be visible in your dog’s vomit or feces.
Whipworms are another type of blood-dependent parasite, and they are most often transmitted when your dog gets up close and personal with the feces of an infected animal.
The key symptoms of a whipworm infestation include:
Blood in your dog’s stools
Persistent licking of the stomach
Unfortunately, whipworms are too small to see with the naked eye, and can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian using a microscope and a sample of your dog’s stools.
Tapeworms are extremely long – sometimes six inches or more – and flat in appearance. They live deep in the intestine where they use their teeth to cling on to the wall of the intestine and absorb nutrients from your pet.
The key symptoms of a tapeworm infestation include:
Dragging the backside along the ground
Increased appetite without weight gain
Persistent licking or scratching around the back passage
If tapeworms get excreted, they usually become broken up and appear in your dog’s feces resembling grains of rice.
Unsurprisingly, heartworms can have a detrimental impact on the health of your pet’s heart. They are transmitted via the bite of an infected mosquito, and unfortunately, the symptoms normally only become apparent when the infection has reached a critical stage.
The key symptoms of a heartworm infestation include:
In most cases, heartworm infestations are diagnosed using a blood test.
If you are concerned that your dog may have worms, or if you would like to find out about what preventative treatment is available, make an appointment with at Veterinary Medical Clinic in Alamogordo, NM as soon as possible. Call 575-567-3500 today.