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When dogs have worms and specifically an overload of worms in their systems, it can make them extremely ill. A worm infestation in any animal including dogs could even prove fatal especially when young. It is usually puppies and younger dogs that seem to suffer from infestations the most and why it is so important that mums should have been regularly wormed before giving birth to puppies so that she doesn't pass them on to her puppies when they are born and why puppies must be wormed as soon as it safe to do.
It is generally recommended that dog owners treat their pets for worms every 3 to 6 weeks, but this does depend on where they live in the country and the risk level of a dog being infected. The other thing that has a bearing on how often a dog is wormed is the product that owners decide to use. Some worming treatments which also treat fleas must be administered every month for them to be truly effective.
The problem is that dogs can be re-infected as soon as they have been treated because the treatments only deal with internal parasites that are present when a dog is dosed with a specific product. The treatment does not protect a dog from picking up worms again. When a dog is regularly wormed, it means they will never develop an overload of intestinal worms which could make them very ill, but it will not mean they never have a small amount of intestinal worms in their systems.
If a dog is not regularly wormed and they are at risk of being infected with worms, providing the numbers of these parasites remain low, a dog's health will not be too negatively impacted. The problems start when there is an infestation and the worm burden becomes too much for a dog's system to cope with. The result is a loss of weight, poor coat condition, lethargy, diarrhoea and if a puppy suffers an infestation, as previously mentioned, it could prove fatal.
The other thing to bear in mind is that roundworms can cause a real problem if a young child comes into contact with a dog that’s suffering from a serious worm problem.
Older dogs when they reach their golden years can be wormed, but only under veterinary advice just to be on the safe side. With this said, all worming products that are licensed to be used on dogs in the UK can be used on animals of all ages quite safely, but because some older dogs are not as mobile as they used to be, the chances of them picking up worms are greatly reduced and therefore they might not need worming quite so regularly.
The most common intestinal worms seen in dogs in the UK are tapeworms and roundworms. With this said, other worms that can affect dogs although much rarer include the following:
The problem is that when a dog has worms, all too often they show no signs of being ill, but this does not mean they should not be regularly and routinely wormed. When a dog develops an infestation of intestinal worms, the signs of there being something wrong are more evident and includes the following:
Dogs will often pass out worms in their faeces when there's overload in their systems and when it's roundworms, these look very much like "noodles" whereas when a dog poos out a tapeworm, they break into small pieces that look like grains of rice.
Puppies often have roundworms in their systems and these intestinal parasites can lay thousands of eggs during their cycle. Immature worms leave the gut and travel around a puppy's body which means they end up in a dog's intestine and it is here that they stay and grow into adult worms. When older dogs are affected, the worms generally get stuck in a dog's internal tissues and turn into cysts which means they do less damage to their systems. Pregnant bitches pass worms onto puppies when they are still in her womb and when they are born, she passes the worms on through her milk.
Dogs get tapeworms through eating raw meat or a dead animal they have found out on a walk. Tapeworms cause a lot of damage to a dog’s digestive system which is why it’s so important to regularly worm them.
Lungworm is becoming a real concern in the UK and although less commonly seen than tapeworms and roundworms, they are still a very big worry for dog owners because when dogs pick them up, it can often prove fatal.
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