Many people wake up half an hour earlier in the morning than they would like to because they have to walk the dog. Then, they spend half the walk wondering whether getting up this early every day is worth it. But when you’re sad, in need of a cuddle, or want something to make you smile, you remember why you love your furry buddy! But can your beloved dog catch the same illnesses as humans and other animals? Take roundworms, they are a parasite that feeds off the body to stay alive. Although not usually dangerous, caution must be taken when dealing with roundworms because they are contagious. But are they so contagious that your fluffy cat could pass roundworms to your much-loved dog?
Can Dogs Get Roundworms From Cats?
People may think because dogs and cats don’t come into much physical contact, that catching roundworms from your cat would be a bit far-fetched. But dogs absolutely can catch ringworm parasites from cats!
Does My Dog Have Roundworms?
If you are worried your dog might have roundworms, use these symptoms to help you establish whether you need to visit the vet. Does your dog have abdominal swelling? Are they suffering from persistent diarrhea or vomiting? Has your dog lost a lot of weight? Are they coughing? Is your pooch more lethargic than usual? But the biggest indicator of all, can you see worms between 3-7 inches in length and tan-colored in your dog’s stool? All of these could be signs that your dog may have roundworms.
What causes roundworms, though? Dogs can become infected in a number of ways. They could eat an infected rodent, or more likely, they could eat the vomit or stool of an infected animal, such as a cat. Puppies can also become infected through nursing from an infected mother.
Your vet will be able to diagnose roundworms relatively straightforwardly. Firstly, they will look for visible signs of weight loss and a swollen abdomen. But they will also want to use a fecal flotation test, in which a special solution will be used to make the eggs of worms float to the top. Then a microscope will confirm the presence of roundworms.
To rule out other worm-related conditions with similar symptoms, such as whipworms, read Whipworms in Dogs.
How Do I Treat My Dog’s Roundworms?
Fortunately, treating roundworms in your dog is fairly straightforward. The first step will be to give your dog deworming tablets. These work to quickly and effectively kill the adult worms, where they end their life in your dog’s stool. Pyrantel, milbemycin, fenbendazole, and moxidectin are usually the deworming medications of choice.
However, deworming does not necessarily kill the eggs of the worms. Your dog may need to be treated one to three times to kill the adults and the newly hatched eggs. Your dog will usually have each dose 7 to 10 days apart, allowing time for the eggs to hatch.
Recovering from roundworms is likely to take your dog several weeks, as there are so many of them -- one adult female roundworm can produce tens of thousands of eggs a day! It is important your dog rests and doesn’t lose too much weight in the weeks or months it takes to completely rid them of roundworms. Then, fecal tests should be taken every 6-12 months, to check for further intestinal parasites.
It can often be helpful to read first-hand accounts from other owners. For more information and to get advice on your dog’s condition, visit Roundworms in Dogs.
How Are Roundworms Similar in Dogs and Humans?
We see a lot of similarities in the symptoms of roundworms in dogs and humans. Some of the most common similarities are as follows:
In both dogs and humans, the abdomen can visibly swell to indicate the presence of roundworms.
Both dogs and humans may suffer from persistent diarrhea and vomiting while the roundworms are living in the body.
Both may lose a significant amount of weight.
Both may seem lethargic, inactive and drained of energy.
You may be able to see roundworms in the stool of both dogs and humans.
How Are Roundworms Different in Dogs and Humans?
So yes, there are a lot of similarities in the symptoms of roundworms between dogs and humans. However, it is also worth highlighting some of the differences in the way roundworms manifest themselves. These are:
A more common symptom we see in humans is restlessness and disturbed sleep, this is less prevalent in dogs.
Humans often suffer from very high fevers when they have roundworms, this is less common in dogs.
Roundworms usually take place in dogs as a result of eating infected rodents, vomit, or feces. In humans, the infection is usually picked up by contact between the hand and mouth.
Bane was a 3-month-old German Shepherd who randomly started throwing up, causing his owners to become concerned. He seemed lethargic and uninterested in his food. The vet gave him a dose of dewormer and the next day he threw up a ball of dead worms and all looked clear. But he then had diarrhea, didn't eat his food and was inactive for the next few days. He continued on a course of dewormers and after 5 weeks, symptoms slowly cleared up and he was free of worms. This helped show that just because your dog may throw up or excrete some worms, the eggs are likely to hatch and stay in the body a while, highlighting the importance of a sustained course of treatment.