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Does your dog have roundworms?

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Almost all dogs will become infected with roundworm at some stage in their lives, and as this parasite can also affect you and your family, it’s important to know what you´re up against.

Any dog of any age can get roundworms, though they are most common and most serious in puppies. They’re the most common parasitic worm affecting dogs in the UK and they’re picked up remarkably easily by our pets. But how do you know if your dog has them? The problem is – you might not! The parasite can be extremely serious in puppies, but adult dogs may not show any signs at all. However, because the parasite can also cause serious disease in people, it’s vital that we regularly worm our pets to protect not just them, but also ourselves and our families.
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How does your dog become infected?
Almost all puppies are born already infected, as the parasite can pass across the placenta from the bitch to her unborn pups, and roundworms can also be transmitted via the mother’s milk. Adult dogs are easily infected too: by accidentally swallowing roundworm eggs when they are snuffling around outside or from hunting behaviour if they eat an infected rodent for example.

Diarrhoea and vomiting
Adult dogs often won’t show signs of a roundworm infection, but diarrhoea and vomiting do occur in some cases. Puppies are much more at risk, and diarrhoea is a common sign. A single pile of dog poo can contain over a million roundworm eggs so it’s very important to pick up and safely dispose of any faeces in your garden and public areas. However roundworm eggs will leave the dog´s poo and enter the soil, so unfortunately it´s impossible to remove all traces of them. Puppies may sometimes vomit up whole worms, or pass them out in their stool. It’s worth remembering that both vomiting and diarrhoea are also signs of a lot of other common health issues.
 

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Poor growth and poor condition
Puppies with roundworms often show signs of poor growth and may be small for their age; they can also have a pot belly and their coat may be dull and in poor condition. Roundworms can be extremely serious in puppies; in severe cases where puppies are affected by large numbers of worms, they can even be fatal.

Coughing
The larval stage of the roundworm parasite migrates through the lungs in very young puppies and this can lead to pneumonia and a cough. As with all of the above symptoms, it’s always worth consulting your vet if you spot any of the warning signs as they can all be indications of other health issues that might need to be dealt with.

Treating roundworms
Worming treatments are available that can kill this common parasite. Puppies should be given roundworm treatment from a young age (2 weeks is the usual recommendation, but it’s important to check the product you’re using can be given to puppies of this age), and this needs to be repeated at regular intervals while they are feeding on their mother’s milk. Although adult dogs often don’t show symptoms, this parasite can cause serious disease in people, so worming adult dogs is a very important part of helping to reduce this risk. It’s recommended that adult dogs are wormed at least every three months. Drontal Oral Suspension for Puppies and Drontal Tablets for dogs both treat this common parasite.

Regular worming not only kills worms in our pets, but also helps to reduce health risks to us too. Good hygiene is important, too: wash your hands after playing with your dog and before mealtimes, and clean your dog’s bedding, blankets and food bowls regularly.

Did you know…
One Toxocara (roundworm) worm can produce up to 85,000 eggs in a single day.

Find out more about worming treatments for dogs here.

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