Roundworm: How it Effects Your Dog

One of the last things any dog owner wants to deal with is finding out their dog has worms. While it may not be pleasant for you or your dog, it is a fact of life for almost every dog at one point or another.

If you think your dog may have roundworm, then here is a quick rundown on just about everything you need to know.

What are common signs and symptoms of roundworm?

Most often you will find out your dog has worms when picking up his or her waste as worms are almost always found in the animals stool. You may also notice them in your dog’s vomit. The worms can be white or light brown in color and can be an inch to several inches long (and has been compared to the look of spaghetti).

If you do not notice worms in your dog’s stool or vomit it is still possible that your dog is infected. Other common symptoms of roundworm include pot-belly (looking bloating all the time), diarrhea, vomiting (again, check for worms!), dull coat and weight loss.

If your dog or puppy is experiencing any of these symptoms you should take them to the vet. From there your vet will test a sample of your pets stool to confirm a diagnosis of roundworm.

How did my dog get Roundworm?

There are many different ways your dog could have been infected with roundworms. Puppies are the most likely victims to roundworms as they can be passed on from the mother at birth or when they drink her milk if the mother is infected.

Puppies and dogs can also become infected from eating small mammals that are infected (mice, rats, squirrels, etc.) – and yes it’s gross, but they can become infected if they eat the feces of an infected animal.

What is the Treatment for Roundworm?

Roundworm is treated with vet prescribed medications such as fenbendazole, milbemycin, moxidectin and a couple of others. These medications are administered in one to three doses (either one strong dose or three smaller doses over a couple of days).

A couple of weeks later your dog will be treated again. The first treatment will kill off any adult worms and larva – the second treatment is a follow-up to ensure that any unhatched eggs are killed. Roundworms can lay up to 85,000 eggs per day so the follow up dose is absolutely necessary or your dog can become re-infected.

For puppies it is suggested that you get them dewormed for the first time between 2-3 weeks of age. From there they should be dewormed at least 3 more times over the course of their first year of life.

Once a dog is one year old they should be tested for worms one to two times a year depending on preventative measures being taken.

Can Roundworm be prevented?

There are a few different things you can do to prevent roundworm. To prevent roundworm in puppies you should ensure that the mother is worm free and on a preventative during pregnancy. Then get your pups dewormed right away at 2-3 weeks of age.

From there you can talk to your vet about the right age to start them on a preventative. There are many heartworm preventatives that also cover roundworm (some even cover hookworms and whipworms as well). You vet will be able to recommend a trusted medication for your dog.

Aside from medication you can also help keep your dog roundworm free by keeping them leashed and/or in a fenced yard – this will help keep their interaction with small mammals down to a minimum, which lessens the chance of contracting worms that way.

You can also help keep your dog from being infected with roundworms by being sure to keep your yard free of waste. This will significantly lower the chance of your dog becoming infected, even if a friend or relative brings over an infected dog.

While almost every dog is going to become infected with roundworm at some point in his or her life, there is no reason that you should not be taking preventative measures. Keeping your yard clean of your dogs (and other animals) waste is one of the most important steps you can take to preventing roundworm infection.