Roundworms in Dogs & Puppies
Roundworms, formally known as ascarids, are a parasite that set up shop inside your dog’s intestines and feed off their partially digested food. Usually white or tan and a few inches long, they look like small noodles. Or worms!
Roundworms are extremely common in dogs, especially in puppyhood. Because roundworms feed off the food a dog is eating, they can lead to malnourishment which is especially dangerous in growing pups. Young dogs are more vulnerable to the parasite, too, because their immune systems have not matured and strengthened fully yet.
There are two main varieties of roundworms: Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonine. Toxocara canis is the more dangerous of the two, as it can lead to more serious illnesses.
Dogs can get roundworms by ingesting feces or other animals infected with roundworms, such as rodents, bugs, or birds. Inside the dog’s body, the life cycle of a roundworm is complicated. There are several stages they must go through as they make their way through the dog’s body before settling in the intestines where they can feed indefinitely.
When infected with roundworms, some dogs might not show any symptoms. In most cases, you will only know your dog is infected because you will notice weight loss and the presence of worms in your dog’s feces. In other cases though, some symptoms may present such as:
- Weight loss
- Belly pain
- Dull coat
- Worms in vomit or feces
To confirm a diagnosis of roundworm, your dog’s veterinarian will conduct a fecal test by placing a sample of your dog’s feces under a microscope. If it’s determined that roundworms are present, the veterinarian will begin treatment.
There are several safe and effective deworming treatments available for roundworms. It’s important that you follow through with the entire course of medications as prescribed by your veterinarian, and follow-up if any concerns persist. Your vet can provide more doses to kill more worms if the first set of treatment doesn’t take.
Though roundworms are very common, you can do a lot to prevent them. When your puppy is young, get him or her dewormed. The best time to get them dewormed is before they are 3 weeks old.
Keep your home clean, and keep your pets’ area sanitized. Regularly remove any feces from your yard and clean up after your dog every time they defecate in a park or public place. If you can, keep your dog away from wild animals that might carry roundworms. This could involve keeping your dog on a leash, or keeping them in your yard.
Medications that prevent heartworms can also prevent and treat roundworms. Talk to your vet about regular deworming if your dog is at high risk.
Can I get roundworms from my dog?
Yes. It is rare, but if you make contact with feces or dirt that’s contaminated with roundworms, you could be infected. Roundworms in humans could lead to eye, lung, heart, or brain problems.
Children are at higher risk. Keep kids away from areas where dogs defecate. Make sure kids in your home wash their hands regularly and keep their areas sanitized.
By enrolling your dog early, conditions and illnesses like parasite infection treatments will be covered up to 90% by your Healthy Paws dog insurance. Find out more by getting a free quote.