Intestinal Parasites (worms) in dogs | Daily News

Intestinal Parasites (worms) in dogs

Parasites are a common and important cause of disease in dogs. Examples include worms, like roundworms (Toxocara canis (intestinal roundworm) and Dirofilaria immitis (heartworm)), whipworms, hookworms (Ancylostoma), tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum, Taenia).

Intestinal parasites are only occasionally life-threatening in adult dogs, and are usually seen in debilitated animals or those that are immune suppressed. Heartworm disease is a major life-threatening problem. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes.

Life cycle

Worms are highly prolific and females can lay up to 300 000 eggs per day. Infested dogs shed these microscopic eggs or segments of the body in case of tape worms via their droppings into the environment, where they become infective after 2 to 3 weeks. The eggs can stay alive and remain infective for up to 5 years, as they are resistant to hot and cold temperatures, as well as disinfectants. Other dogs become infested as they swallow these eggs when they sniff or lick soil or other substances soiled by faeces. Dogs may also get infested if they eat rodents or other small mammals that can carry roundworm larvae.


Parasites are usually transmitted when an animal inadvertently ingests parasite eggs or spores in contaminated soil, water, feces or food. In the case of tapeworms, they can also be transmitted when a dog eats an infected flea. Puppies, on the other hand, usually get intestinal parasites from their mother. Transmission can occur in utero or from nursing.


Besides being hard to detect, many dogs infected with intestinal parasites are asymptomatic. Intestinal parasites can cause malnutrition, weight loss, vomiting, distended abdomen; large number of worms can cause intestinal blockage, diarrhea, and anemia. Dogs may also have respiratory signs as the immature worms pass through their lungs, leading to coughing and pneumonia.


The best way to ensure that your dog is parasite-free is to take him to the veterinarian at least twice a year for check-ups. The veterinarian will examine your dog and perform fecal testing for microscopic eggs or spores in your pet’s stool.

Prevent intestinal parasites

Intestinal parasites are treatable and even easier to prevent. There are de worm drugs in the market for puppies and adult dogs. Puppies should be de wormed at the age of 2 weeks and repeat it every two weeks time until the age of 4-5 months. When the dog is more than 4 -5 months of age the de worm drug should be change to adult de wormer which should be given according to the weight of the animal. The repeat medication should be given at two months interval for adult dogs.

There are different preparations in the market as de worm drugs. You can select syrup for puppies because it is easy for giving. There are tablets for adults. Make sure to buy any of these preparations according to weight of your pet.

When selecting the proper de worm drug for your dog strict veterinary recommendations should follow. Improper drug and inadequate dose of the de worm drug could course drug resistance by the worm. Drug resistance to worms can be overcome by using two different drugs in consecutive treatments.

“De worming day”

Give de worm drugs for all pets at your home at once. But do not de worm pregnant animals as it is toxic to puppies. De worming for nursing bitches after 2 weeks of whelping while de worming the litter is recommended. Better to de worm they in empty stomach. Giving the de worm drug after night feeding in much recommended as the drug can affect against worms while the dog is sleeping/ inactive. So to make empty stomach feed their night diet in late afternoon of the “De worm day”. Then allow a gap of 4-5 hours and then give the de worm drug. Allow the syrup or the tablet to swallow without mixing with any food. Some dogs take medicine voluntarily but for some dogs you have to force feed them. Be patient with the habbit of your dog and at the end of any method make sure that it swallowed the medicine. Also keep in mind to observe the droppings on following day where you can see adult worms and parts of worms. This observation confirms you that the de worm drug is effective. Always keep a record so that you will not miss the date of the next dose.

Training dogs to swallow tablets

If your dog doesn’t like to take medicine especially tablets voluntarily train them for force feeding of tablets. Don’t force feed adult dogs if they are not used/ trained for force feeding. When you give vitamin tablets for puppies you can notice that your dog like to take tablets voluntarily or not. Therefore you should train them for force feeding at young age while giving vitamin tablets. Also practice this method for dogs properly vaccinated for Rabies disease and with dogs having good temperament. Steps for force feeding are given below.

Step 1 - Wear gloves

Step 2 – Widely open the mouth of the dog with one hand

Step 3 – Place the tablet near to the throat over the tongue of the dog by using the other

hand. This will facilitates quick swallowing. Do not keep the drug in the middle or tip of the tongue.

Step 4 – Immediately take your hand out & shut the mouth of the dog. Hold the mouth

of the dog by your hand for a while. Don’t allow it to open the mouth.

Step 5 – Blow slowly into the nose of the dog by your mouth. Make sure to keep the

distance with the dog’s face.

Step 6 – Slowly loosen your hand which is used to hold tight the mouth of the dog. Do

not take off your hand yet.

Step 7 – Observe the “nose licking” by the dog which indicates it has successfully

swallowed the tablets. Sometimes they are cunning to keep the tablet between the teeth (As you didn’t place it properly in the dog’s mouth) and throw it away when you loosen your hand.

Step 8 – If not swallowed repeat the steps again

If you are not clear about the steps ask from your vet to demonstrate the procedure for you and practice it with your dog at home.

Measuring weight of the pet at home

Dogs are naughty animals therefore they do not stand still in one place to get the weight. Also they have long body than common house hold balance. The owner can take his weight as the 1st step of weighing the dog. Then the same person can take the weight with the dog while lifting or carrying the dog. By using the simple calculation of taking the difference of both weight figures you can weigh your dog at home.

Weight of the dog = weight of owner while lifting the dog – weight of the owner only

  •  Human infection

Echinococcus, another type of tapeworm, is important because it is zoonotic, meaning humans can be infected. The adult tapeworm is tiny, only about ¼" (5-6 mm) long. Sheep and sometimes man can act as the intermediate hosts in which the immature forms of Echinococcus develop inside hyadatic cysts in various organs. In man, these cysts can involve the lungs or brain.

  •  Prevent human infection

Do not share chairs, bet and common house hold equipments with your dog. Clean your dog’s kennel carpets, cushions at least once a week in order to break the life cycle of worms.

Periodic treatment for the fleas of your dog is very much essential. Clean your hand with a detergent after handling dog and equipment use by dog (eg- feed bowls)

(The writer is a Veterinary Surgeon and B.V.Sc; M.Sc Poultry Science and Master of Public Administration and Management)


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