There are various types of worms that can infect our precious pooches. Worms can cause serious illness if left untreated, and can even pass to humans, posing a health risk to children and the elderly in particular. They are very commonly seen in dogs, unless regularly treated. Finding a worming treatment to suit your pet and your lifestyle is now easier than even, with a wide range of products available and the convenience of buying online if you wish to.
What types of worms do dogs get?
Common worms found in dogs include:
Roundworms and tapeworms both live in the intestines, damaging the lining of the gut and absorbing the nutrients from food that are supposed to be going to your pup. They are very common. If a dog has a heavy worm burden, you may see evidence in their faeces: roundworms are long and look like spaghetti, tapeworms can be seen as little segments like grains of rice.
Symptoms of these intestinal worms include; scooting and licking at their bottom, weight loss, a swollen or bloated tummy, vomiting, and diarrhoea. In puppies, large worm burdens can cause serious disease, including dehydration, intestinal obstruction and anaemia.
Lungworm is a parasitic infection which can be severe, and even fatal. It is transferred via slugs and snails and invades the dog’s heart and lungs through the blood vessels, causing a range of symptoms. These signs include; coughing, heavy or laboured breathing, weight loss, unexplained bruising or bleeding, blindness, seizures and collapse.
Threadworm and whipworm are less commonly seen and often cause milder gastrointestinal symptoms, although severe infestations can be more serious, especially in young puppies.
How do dogs catch worms?
Parasites can be transferred to your dog in many ways.
- Maternal transfer – worms are passed from mother to puppy, while in the womb or through the milk.
- Eating other animals’ poo which contains worms or eggs.
- Contaminated soil – eggs and larvae survive well on the ground, long after the original faeces have disappeared. Dogs are often infected after getting dirty and then grooming themselves
- Eating small mammals such as mice.
- Tapeworms can be carried by fleas and transferred to your dog when the flea feeds and your dog bites at the fleas.
- Lungworm is transmitted via the slime of slugs and snails.
- Hookworm larvae can invade by burrowing through your dog’s paws into the bloodstream.
Treating worms in dogs
Regular treatment of dogs with appropriate worming products is essential. Worms are very common in dogs across the UK and can cause health problems if untreated. Puppies are likely to carry heavier worm burdens, and be more badly affected, but adult dogs are often plagued by worm infestations if not treated. In rare cases, worms can even cause disease in people, especially children and the elderly.
Which product should I use?
There are a huge range of products available for worm prevention and treatment in dogs, so there will be something to suit everyone. The medications come in different formulations, such as tablets, spot-ons, liquids, granules, pastes or injections. They often come in a range of sizes for different weights of dog, and some are suitable for puppies.
There may be different types of medication required for different types of worms. Some worming products treat more than one type of worm, such as Drontal which treats both roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm. Others, such as Droncit, which only treats adult tapeworms, are more specific, and so a worming routine can be adjusted to suit your dog’s needs. Lungworm may require an additional medication.
Care should be taken to select a product which is safe and suitable for your dog. Always check that you have an accurate weight for your dog, as this will affect the dose, and that you read all the instructions carefully. The medication may need to be very carefully selected if your pet is young, very small or pregnant. Products such as Pancur granules are popularly used for puppies and pregnant dogs.
If your vet has recommended a prescription wormer, then it is important to follow their advice and use the appropriate products for your dog’s health. We stock a wide range of prescription worming products, which you can order with a written prescription from your vet.
How often should I worm my dog?
Puppies need to be wormed regularly, every few weeks until they are at least 4 months old. Adult dogs will usually need treatment every 3 months, especially if there are children in the house – although some dogs at very high risk may need more frequent treatment, on advice from your vet. Lungworm treatment in particular usually needs to be given monthly.
Dogs can catch worms at any age, so treatment should be lifelong. Pregnant dogs will need to be wormed to reduce transfer of worms to their puppies, when pregnant and also whilst they are nursing their young.
If your dog has an active worm burden, they may need more than one treatment, a few weeks apart, to fully clear their system. You may not see dead worms in their poo, as they are often digested before being passed out.
Tapeworms are often carried by fleas, so a good worming protocol should go hand-in-hand with an anti-flea medication.
Where can I buy worming treatment?
There are some medications, such as Droncit which do not require a prescription and can be bought over the counter. We have an excellent range of dog worming products on our website, including both prescription and non-prescription medications.
Always consult your veterinary surgeon when considering worming options for your dog.