Nearly all dogs will become infected with roundworms at some stage in their lives. Since this parasite can also affect you and your family, it’s important to know what to look for.
Roundworm symptoms in dogs and puppies
Roundworms are common parasitic worms infesting dogs, and your four-legged family members can pick them up remarkably easily. But unfortunately, you may not be able to tell whether your dog has them! The symptoms of roundworms are more apparent in puppies, but adult dogs may not show any signs at all.
How do dogs become infected?
While any dog of any age can get roundworms, this parasite is most common and most serious in puppies, which can be born with the infection (passed through their mother’s placenta) or receive it from their mother’s milk.
Adult dogs are easily infected, too. They can accidentally swallow roundworm eggs when they sniff around outside or if they eat an infected rodent or bird for example.
Signs of roundworm in dogs
Diarrhoea and vomiting
Adult dogs often won’t show signs of a roundworm infection, but diarrhoea and vomiting do occur in some cases. Puppies are much more at risk, and diarrhoea is a common sign. Additionally, puppies may sometimes vomit up whole worms or pass them in their stool. It’s worth remembering that both vomiting and diarrhoea are also signs of many other common health issues – to be sure, check with your veterinarian.
Signs of roundworm in puppies
Poor growth and poor condition
Puppies with roundworms often show signs of poor growth and may:
- Be small for their age
- Have a pot belly
- Have a dull coat in poor condition
In very young puppies, the larval stage of the roundworm parasite migrates through the lungs, which can lead to pneumonia and a cough. As with all the above symptoms, it’s always worth consulting your vet if you spot any of these warning signs, as they can indicate other health issues too.
Worming treatments are available that can kill this common parasite. Puppies should be given roundworm treatment from 2 weeks of age – make sure the product you are using is suitable for very young puppies. Treatment needs to be repeated at regular intervals while they are feeding on their mother’s milk, and as they grow – check the label directions.
Worming adult dogs is essential to helping reduce the risk of roundworm. It’s recommended that adult dogs be wormed at least every three months.
Regular worming not only kills worms in your pets, it also helps reduce health risks to us. Good hygiene is important, too: wash your hands after playing with your dog and before mealtimes, and clean your dog’s bedding, blankets and food bowls regularly.