Regular treatment for intestinal worms is essential, not only in caring for the health of your pet, but also to protect your family from the human health risks associated with some worms. Puppy droppings are best disposed of carefully.
The four major intestinal worms that infect dogs are: roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. These worms mainly affect puppies and young dogs. Hookworms are the most dangerous of the intestinal worms.
Puppies should be wormed every two weeks until they are three months old, then monthly from three to six months of age. After six months of age worming every three months is adequate.
There is a variety of suitable products available. Your puppy has been wormed with Drontal suspension, every two weeks since birth, while in our care.
While we promote "natural" care of our dogs, we are yet to see conclusive testing to support natural preventatives/treatments for worms. In the future we will likely run some controlled tests of our own.
It is important to stress that if you do experiment with natural preventatives and treatments, it is essential to have faecal egg counts before you start the treatment and periodically after to ensure effectiveness.
Producing a strong immune system through raw feeding will make your canine a less attractive host for parasites. It's likely you won't see any signs of worm infestation.
Dogs Naturally Magazine has some comprehensive information:
The most common symptoms of worm infestation are:
* Bottom scooting along the ground
* Diarrhoea (sometimes containing blood)
* Low energy
* Pot bellied appearance
* Change in appetite (can increase or decrease)
* Weight loss
* Dull coat (can also include loss of hair and a rash
* Itching and signs of skin irritations
* Stools may be covered in mucous
* Visible worms in fur or faecal matter.
The best way to determine whether your canine companion has worms, is to take a faecal sample to your vet for a faecal egg count. If you are so inclined, you could purchase a microscope and special slides to do your own regular checks!
Protozoa - single celled microscopic organisms
Protozoa are another group of parasites worth mentioning. There are two common ones:
Giardia is a protozoan with a hair-like tail which lives in the intestine.
Faeces contaminated water is the most common method of contraction.
Some dogs develop chronic, intermittent diarrhoea, while others show no signs of infection. The symptoms are usually more severe in puppies.
Coccidia are also protozoans that live in the intestinal walls. Coccidiosis can be quite common in puppies.
While adult dogs don’t show symptoms, they can spread the infection through their faeces, which contaminates the soil.
Coccidiosis can cause serious diarrhoea in young puppies and may even cause death (dehydration and malnourishment).