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5 vet questions about dog worms

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Seeking veterinary advice for your dog: what five questions about worming should you ask?
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Whether you’ve had experience with them or not, you’ll probably be aware that worms inside your dog are no good thing. Not only can they cause health problems in your dog (with puppies particularly at risk), some of them can even cause disease in you and your family.

The most effective way to combat worms in your dog is by sticking to a regular worming schedule throughout your dog’s life. A one-off treatment will kill any worms inside your dog at the time, but most of our pets are at risk of re-exposure to worms, so it's a good idea to keep up with regular parasite control to help keep your pet healthy.

You can read our advice on the most effective ways to fight worms here, but it’s also important to discuss any concerns with your vet. When taking your dog to the vet for the first time you will be given a lot of useful information; these five dog health questions can help you to prepare for your vet consultation.

1. Which worms should I be worried about?
Roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm, whipworm and lungworm are the primary culprits in UK dogs. Your pet’s lifestyle will often dictate which parasites they are most at risk from – your vet will be able to advise further.

2. How do I know if my dog has worms?
It’s not always immediately obvious that your dog has worms, so often you won’t know for sure. It might be more obvious in puppies who might vomit or have diarrhoea; they may also have a pot-bellied appearance and a dull coat. However, almost all puppies are born with roundworms, so even those that appear healthy will usually have some worms inside them.

Regardless of whether a dog is showing symptoms of worms or not, an infected dog will be passing eggs out in its poo that can infect other dogs or even people. Regular worming is crucial to try to lower this risk. Your vet will be able to discuss the risks to your dog, and advise on a parasite plan that's right for them.

3. How did my dog get worms?
This is a very common veterinary question about dogs. People can sometimes feel guilty if their dog has worms, but actually almost all puppies are born with roundworms, and it is so easy for dogs to be exposed to a range of parasites throughout their lives. Lungworm, for instance, can be contracted when your dog accidentally or deliberately ingests slugs or snails (or even their slime) whilst rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls, or picking them up from their toys. All of which are part of a normal day for most dogs! Your vet will be able to tell you more about the specific risks to your pet depending on their lifestyle and where in the country you live.

4. How often should I worm my dog?
This is an important question, and will vary according to your dog’s lifestyle and the product you’re using. It’s usually recommended that adult dogs are wormed at least every three months. However, to protect against lungworm, which has the potential to be fatal, a worming regime needs to be administered monthly – speak to your vet for more information about this parasite and an appropriate monthly preventative plan, as only prescription wormers from your vet protect against this parasite.

5. Can dog worms cause problems for me and my family?
Unfortunately, yes. Roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms can all cause problems in people as well as in pets. It is another reason why regular worming is so important – for the health of our families as well as our pets.

More on effective worming treatments for your dog here.