Roundworms are parasites that live freely in the intestine, feeding off of partially digested intestinal contents. Their name is derived from their tubular or ‘round’ shape. Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina are two important species of roundworms in dogs.
Toxocara canis causes more significant disease and also may be transmitted to humans. Roundworms are the most common gastrointestinal worm found in the dog. When your dog has roundworms and you can’t detect the situation early you may start to notice certain changes or certain symptoms in your dog. Below are some symptoms you will likely experience.
Symptoms of roundworms
Although it is possible for a dog to have roundworms and not show any symptoms, there are certain signs that can accompany a case of roundworms.
Roundworms live in the intestines, depriving the puppy or dog of nutrients from his food thus symptoms of a heavy roundworm infection can include signs of malnutrition such as weakness, weight loss, and stunted growth.
Pot Bellied appearance
When a case of roundworms is untreated, the parasites can multiply quickly in the intestines and grow to the point where the presence of numerous adult worms gives the puppy a pot bellied appearance.
Coughing. Roundworm larvae can migrate to the lungs and cause coughing and other respiratory symptoms, sometimes even serious conditions such as pneumonia.
Vomiting or diarrhoea
Roundworms can cause digestive upsets such as vomiting and diarrhea. Diarrhea can range from mild to severe.
Worms vomited up or visible in stools
When a dog has roundworms, the owner might see one or more of the worms in the dog’s vomit or stools. Needless to say, it can be quite alarming (and disgusting) to see these large, pale colored, spaghetti-like worms, sometimes still moving. If this happens, call your vet as soon as possible, explain what you saw, and make an appointment to bring your dog or puppy in for treatment very soon.
Roundworms spread pretty fast as one can lay up to 85 thousand eggs. To prevent this from affecting your dog do the following;
- Deworm your puppy when he’s young. The best time to start is before he’s 3 weeks old.
- Keep things clean, including the areas where he eats, sleeps, and plays. Throw away his poop properly. Clean up after him in your yard and also in the park. Don’t let your dog use a playground or sandbox as a litter box.
- Keep your dog away from small, wild animals. They can carry roundworms. Consider keeping him on a leash or in a fenced yard.
- Give your dog medication to prevent heartworms. Many have ingredients that also treat and control roundworms.
- Talk to your doctor about possibly deworming your dog every so often if he’s at high risk of infection.
There are many safe and effective deworming drugs. They include fenbendazole, milbemycin, moxidectin, piperazine, and pyrantel. Your vet can give your dog one to three doses at first, which will kill the adult worms. Your dog will get follow-up doses to kill any new worms that weren’t fully developed when the first doses were given.
Like any other disease or infection, they can be treated and prevented from further infecting your dogs and humans as well. You just have to be cautious and follow preventive measures and you may as well visit your vet for regular advice.