While you are outside tossing tennis balls to your terrier, or playing fetch with your fun-loving retriever, you should be aware that there are parasites called hookworms and roundworms that prey on dogs and puppies, and can adversely affect the health of your pet.
What You Should Know About Hookworms and Roundworms
As temperatures rise, so does the probability of infestations by hookworms and roundworms. In dogs, hookworms and roundworms can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, severe weight loss, or even death. In many cases, a dog can be infected without having any outward symptoms. These parasites can also be passed to humans through direct contact with an infected animal or through exposure to infected feces, soil, sand, or other objects. Since young children often play alongside pets on playgrounds, in sandboxes, or patios, they are especially susceptible to contracting larva migrans—a disease that may result in permanent visual or neurological damage. If unchecked, children can suffer from permanent neurological damage or even partial vision loss. One species of hookworm has been known to cause damage to the intestine and other organs. Hearing about hookworms and roundworms should not dissuade you from doing the things you love to do with your dog. The conditions resulting from hookworms and roundworms are usual treatable, but the best measure against infection is prevention.
Protect Your Dog From Hookworms and Roundworms
Here are a few ways to prevent your dog from having a nasty encounter with these parasites:
- Follow a regular deworming schedule for your puppy. Consider a monthly preventative for consistent protection and treatment
- Always clean up immediately after your pet eliminates. Use pooper-scoopers or plastic bags in order to prevent direct contact with dog feces that may contain hookworms or roundworms
- Wash hands immediately after handling pets and their feces
- Be aware and be vigilant with your dog when he is outside. Watch to make sure it does not come into contact with another dog’s or cat’s feces or ingest it
- Curtail your dog’s contact with unknown dogs or environments, like a communal water bowl at a dog park
Be aware of the common signs of worm infestation in dogs: abdominal pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, or severe weight loss. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has a hookworm or roundworm infestation. Your dog should also have a yearly fecal exam to check for parasites. Learn more about protecting your dog from other parasites, like ticks and heartworm.