When my Labrador was about six months old, his weight started to decrease. Despite increasing his food intake and offering the best of food items available, he continued to lose weight. Alarmed, I took him to his vet and he informed me that my dog had worms in his intestines. On taking the prescribed medicine, my dog became healthy again.
Given their habit of eating or touching almost anything that they can get hold of, dogs are prone to get affected by worms. The most common worms include tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. And all of these make a home in the dog’s intestines.
Finding the culprit
If your dog shows symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, chewing or licking the area under his tail, short of breath, coughing or losing weight, then he may be suffering due to worms. Time to visit your vet. Consult your vet and carry along a sample of your dog’s poop, if required. Your vet will analyze the sample and examine your dog and then prescribe medicines, if needed.
Another rather dangerous worm that can affect your dog is heartworm. It can be fatal in some cases, hence the need to be extra-cautious. Heartworms can grow up to a foot long and reside in a dog’s heart, lungs or blood vessels. Mosquitoes are carriers of this worm. Heartworms are detected through a blood test.
Treatment for worms
Worms are usually treated through oral medicine or an injection in some cases. The drugs thus administered are a poison for the worms but safe for your pet.
For puppies, the first deworming should be done when they are 2-3 weeks old. This is required as worms often pass from the mother to the puppy before birth, just after or through milk. This first dose of medicine will kill the worms that are present at that time. A second dose will be required to kill the worms that hatch in a few weeks. For adult dogs, treatment is same. Only the dose of medicine is more.
If your vet has determined that your pet suffers from heartworm, she will start the treatment with a month long heartworm prevention medicine along with anti-inflammatory and antibiotics. The actual treatment starts a month later. Medication includes three injections administered over two months. Heartworms usually break into several pieces upon dying. These are capable of blocking blood flow, particularly when blood flow is brisk such as when your dog exercises or plays for prolonged periods. Your dog could die. Therefore, the need to follow your vet’s instructions carefully and keep your dog quiet and calm in the subsequent months. About six months into the treatment, your dog’s blood will be rechecked for presence of heartworms. If heartworms are still present then, your dog will be administered another round of injections. If they are absent, preventive medicine will continue and heartworm tests will be done every year to ensure that they don’t return.
Prevention is better than cure
Keep your home clean, prevent your dog from eating things while on a walk and control mosquitoes and fleas that can infect your dog. Remember, some of these worms can get transferred to you too. The following steps will help prevent worms infecting your dog-
- Have your dog checked for worms by a vet twice a year (for a puppy, four times)
- Avoid fleas from infecting your dog. Use flea control powders, commonly available, or oral medicines as recommended by your vet.
- Put your dog’s bed in a clean and hygienic place. Ensure no mosquitoes can bite him
- Wash your hands after you pet your dog and after removing their waste, in particular