Your dog probably spends a substantial amount of time sticking his nose in anything and everything that looks filthy and smells even worse. Yet somehow, he’s rarely ill. This has probably made you wonder, can dogs get that many of the same ailments humans suffer from?
Take worms, for example. In humans, they’re tiny, fairly harmless, and often found in children. However, in dogs caution must be taken because if worms remain, they can affect the vital organs and can even reduce the functionality of the heart. But can dogs get rid of worms on their own?
Can Dogs Get Rid Of Worms On Their Own?
People may believe because worms are usually harmless in humans, that they’re probably not too dangerous in dogs either and that they can rid themselves of them, but this is not the case. Dogs cannot get rid of worms themselves, medical assistance will be required to some extent.
Does My Dog Have Worms?
There are certain things to look out for if you suspect your dog may have worms. Does your dog have chronic diarrhea? Is there blood, mucus or worms in the stool? Has your dog lost a lot of weight? Does your dog itch and lick their anal area more than usual? Is your dog scooting? Has your dog’s abdomen swollen? All of these can be symptoms of worms.
What causes an infestation of worms, though? The majority of worm species infect your dog through digestion of the eggs, however there are also other causes. Heartworms can be caused by a mosquito bite transmitting infective larvae. Consuming contaminated soil, water, or stool can transfer whipworms and tapeworms come about from ingesting an infected host, such as fleas and rabbits. Roundworms and hookworms can be transmitted by consuming infected stool, soil or vomit.
Your vet will diagnose your dog’s worms by means of fecal floats and microscopic analysis of a recent stool. Your vet may also conduct blood tests to check for the presence of heartworms. If heartworms are present, X-rays and an electrocardiogram may also be required. For further information on worms most commonly found in dogs,learn more at our guide to Worm Infestations in Dogs.
How Do I Treat My Dog’s Worms?
Treatment will depend on the type of worms your dog has, but usually entails de-worming medication. This will either be given orally or via injection. Some de-wormers will dissolve the worms completely so you will not even see them in your dog’s stool. Frequently, multiple treatments are required to fully eliminate the worms.
It is vital during this period that chances of re-infection are minimized. That will mean cleaning up feces promptly and cleaning inside areas the dog spends time in to ensure no eggs are left.
Heartworms, however, are more serious and by the time they are diagnosed, serious damage to the heart and blood vessels may have taken place. Treatment for heartworms will consist of injectable medications, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, diuretics, and specialized heart medications.
De-worming medication sees your dog fully recovered relatively quickly. It may take several weeks as medication must be given in stages, but you can expect your dog to be free of worms in weeks rather than months. If your dog has heartworms however, recovery may not only be much harder to achieve, but it could take months depending on the case.
It can be helpful to read first hand accounts from owners and seeing commonly asked questions answered by our in-house vets. Check out our guide to Worm Infestations in Dogs for more details.
How Are Worms Similar in Dogs and Humans?
In a number of ways, you can see similarities in the way worms manifest themselves in dogs, humans and other animals. Some of those similarities are as follows:
Both dogs and humans can suffer from diarrhea.
Both dogs and humans can suffer with nausea and vomiting.
Both can show symptoms of severe abdominal pain.
Both may appear fatigued and uninterested in their usual day to day activities.
Both dogs and humans may lose their appetite and then lose weight quickly.
Both dogs and humans may appear visibly weak when they are suffering with worms.
How Are Worms Different in Dogs and Humans?
It is also worth noting that there are certain differences between worm infestations in dogs and people. Some of those differences are:
A dog’s hair coat may worsen to indicate the presence of worms, not a symptom found in humans.
Pale gums and shortness of breath are more common symptoms in dogs than humans.
Scooting is a symptom we see in dogs and not humans.
Retarded growth in puppies can be a sign of worms, yet worms do not frequently have the same effect on babies.
Elvis was a 5-year-old poodle who started to scoot, vomit, and suffer from diarrhea. Owners then noticed worms around the anal area and in his stool. Whipworms were diagnosed a couple of days later and de-worming medication was prescribed. The treatment was done in three stages over several weeks, but after frequent cleaning of the dog’s popular areas in the house and the de-worming tablets, Elvis was back to his happy self in just 4 weeks. This showed that dogs do need help to get rid of worms, but that a brief course of de-worming medication and a thorough clean, can usually solve the problem.