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Five things your vet wants you to know about worms in dogs

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Have questions about the risk of worms to your dog? Turn to the professional. Here are five things your veterinarian wants you to know about intestinal parasites.
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Owner taking her dog to the vet

Although it's not nice to mention, all dogs are exposed to worms, even before they are born! Not only do they cause health problems for dogs, some worms from dogs can infect you and your family.

So - what do the specialists say? Below are five common questions vets are asked by dog owners about worms.

1. Which intestinal worms should I be worried about?

Roundworms, hookworms, whipworm and tapeworms are the primary culprits in dogs, although this can vary depending on where you live. Your pet’s lifestyle will often dictate which parasites pose the greatest risk – your vet will be able to advise further.

2. How do I know if my dog has worms?

If your dog is fully grown, it’s not always obvious when they have worms, so you might not know for sure. Symptoms are more obvious in puppies: they might vomit or have diarrhoea, and may also have a pot-bellied appearance and a dull coat. Blood-sucking worms can make your pup so anaemic that they need a blood transfusion to survive. Almost all puppies will be infected with roundworms, either before birth by in utero infection or after birth via their mother’s milk, so even those that appear healthy will usually have some worms inside them.

Regardless of whether a dog is showing symptoms of worms or not, an infected dog will pass eggs in its faeces that can then infect other dogs or even people. Regular worming is crucial to lower this risk. Your vet will be able to discuss the risks to your dog and your family and advise on a parasite protection plan that’s right for all of you.

3. How did my dog get worms?

This is a common veterinary question. People often feel guilty if their dog has worms, but almost all puppies are born with roundworms, and most will become infected with roundworms or hookworms via their mother’s milk. It is very easy for dogs to be exposed to a range of parasites throughout their lives. Roundworms and hookworms, for instance, can be contracted if your dog ingests their microscopic eggs or larvae when eating grass, mouthing their toys, or grooming themselves after being outside. Alternatively, they can become infected with roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms if they eat other infected animals, including if they’re fed raw meat or offal. Your vet will be able to tell you more about the specific risks to your pet depending on your pet’s lifestyle and where you live.

4. How often should I worm my dog?

This is an important question, and will vary according to your dog’s age, health and lifestyle and the treatment you choose. Generally, healthy adult dogs should be wormed for intestinal worms at least every three months. However, if you choose Advocate and use it monthly, as directed, it will not only be able to treat, but also kills off the worm larvae between treatments.

5. Can I get worms from my dog?

Unfortunately, yes. Roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms can cause problems in people as well as dogs. This is yet another reason why regular worming is so important – for the health of your family as well as your pets. Your vet will likely have recommendations for reducing the human risks associated with dog worms.

Remember: Consult your vet to get more personalised information about your dog’s specific risk of worms. Your vet will factor in your dog’s lifestyle and the region you live in, and can recommend a treatment plan tailored to your pet. If you suspect your dog has worms, schedule a visit to get a diagnosis and the correct treatment.

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