Roundworm is a common parasite in dogs and puppies. It is so common that nearly every dog will deal with this parasite at some point in his life, particularly while he is a puppy. Puppies are especially vulnerable to roundworm because their immune system has not matured enough yet to fight them off. Two types of roundworm exist. These include toxocara canis and toxascaris leonine. The latter is the more serious of the two because it can transmit symptoms to humans.
The roundworm parasite lives in the intestinal tract of your dog and receives its nutrients from her. Unfortunately, this prevents your dog from getting the proper nutrition she needs for longevity and quality of life. Roundworm can also live inside the lungs of your dog, which obviously makes it difficult for her to breathe normally. The following symptoms indicate that your dog could have roundworm:
- Unexpected weight loss
- Fur appears dull
- Non-stop coughing
- Unusual shape to the abdomen
- Roundworm present in stool
How Dogs Get Roundworm
One of the most common ways that puppies get roundworms is that their mother transmits them during pregnancy and birth. A mother dog can also pass roundworm to her puppies through nursing. Unfortunately, pregnancy can reactive dormant roundworm larvae in a female dog. This is true even if she has received treatment and appears to be free of the parasite. Mother dogs need careful monitoring as well since the roundworm larvae can remain in their bodies after giving birth.
Your dog can also acquire roundworm by accidentally consuming eggs located in dirt, plants, or soil. Dogs love to dig and chew, so make sure that you supervise your dog outside and prevent him from eating dirt.
Eating another animal infected with roundworm is a third way that dogs can pick them up. These can include rodents, birds, and certain insects. Although these are not normal host animals for roundworms and they never mature in them, an egg can activate and grow into a full-sized roundworm once inside your dog.
Prevention and Treatment of Roundworm
The easiest way to confirm that your dog has roundworm is for one of our veterinarians to view a stool sample under a microscope. With roundworm being so common in puppies, we typically do this at his first preventive care appointment. If your dog has roundworms, we will prescribe a de-worming medication to eliminate them. Since no preventive vaccine exists for roundworm, we strongly encourage you to start your dog or puppy on a de-worming medication to help prevent an infestation of this parasite.Please don’t hesitate to contact Chaska Valley Veterinary Clinic if you have additional questions about protecting your dog from roundworm or any other parasites. After all, there’s still a lot of winter to enjoy with your dog.
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