Remembering to worm your dog can be tricky when life is busy, and regular worming treatments can mean the wallet takes a hit too! Monthly worming is strongly recommended for the majority of dogs though, with good reasons for your much-loved pooch, but also the wider family too. Read on to find your answer to- ‘do I really need to worm my dog monthly?’
Well, firstly, they’re pretty gross! But worms bring more than just the ‘ick’ factor for your dog. They can cause some nasty symptoms for your canine companion, including the classic bum-scooting behaviour, because of an itchy bum. Some poor dogs develop diarrhoea, which may have blood in it and gut worms can also cause uncomfortable bloated tummies. In young puppies, worms can even cause serious gut blockages.
And while you may like sharing a lot of things in life with your four-legged friend, we doubt that this feeling extends to their worms?! But that is a very real possibility for some dog worm species, which can infect people too – YUCK! Read more about that in ‘Can I Catch Worms from My Pet?’
This is the thing – the risk of infection by worms is EVERYWHERE for your dog. They’re sneaky little blighters that have developed a few clever ways to make their way to your dog’s insides. Worm eggs hang out in soil and are easily accidentally eaten by your pooch while they play outside. Some worms sneak their way in directly through the skin of your dog’s feet and others even ‘trojan horse’ their way in via fleas!
You know as well as us how important food is to many dogs! But your dog’s dinner could be another way that they are exposed to worms – especially if they are fed a raw diet or like to hunt. This is because some worms hang out in other animals, including meat and prey animals, ready to infect your dog as they chow down.
For puppies, the risk of worms starts before they are even born, with some worm species able to weasel their way from mum to pup via the placenta. This means puppies can be born with a belly full of worms and is the reason that specialised worming programmes for pregnant bitches and young puppies are so important.
We have lots more information about where worms come from in ‘Parasites and Your Pooch’.
That depends on several different risk factors. Thankfully, the parasite boffins at the European Counsel for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) have put together a handy guide which we’ve summarised for you. Simply start at the top of the list below and move down, carefully reading each statement. When you find one that matches your dog, whatever frequency group that statement is in is how often you should be treating for worms.
Recommended for dogs that:
You should speak to your vet about the specific worming needs of these dogs.
Most dogs fall into the ‘worm monthly’ group, and for good reason. There are some specific risks that mean some dogs are at an increased likelihood of encountering the infective life stages of worms, or, the people around them are at an increased risk of the effects of worms that can transfer from dogs to people. We’ve outlined why below.
The other part of the problem is that worming treatments don’t have any lasting effect – they only kill any worms present in your dog on the day that you give them the treatment. Because the risk of reinfection with worms is always there, your dog could pick up a new bunch of wormy friends the very next day. It takes time for the infective life stages of worms to develop however, so monthly treatment means that the worms don’t get chance to set up camp and start families of their own, reducing the health threat to your dog, as well as your family and friends.
Young dogs, due to their still-developing immune systems and smaller size, are more susceptible to the potential nasty effects of worms, so should be protected monthly. Puppies can also catch worms from their mum – sometimes before they are even born!
Because some of the worms that can infect dogs can also affect people, worming your dog doesn’t just protect them, but protects their human family and friends too. This is especially important for people that may not have a strong immune system, as infection with dogs’ worms could have devastating effects. One type of worm in particular – Toxacara – can wiggle its way into all sorts of places in people, including the brain and eye. This has been known to cause serious consequences, such as blindness and epilepsy.
This is why monthly worming against roundworms in particular, is hugely important for any dog that is in regular contact with a child under 5, anyone that is immunocompromised – e.g. has had their spleen removed or is on immune-suppressing medication, such as chemotherapy or anti-rejection drugs, or anyone that is elderly. This applies to many dogs, from family pets to therapy or educational support animals.
Dogs on a raw food diet
Raw feeding has grown in popularity and many owners are convinced of its health benefits for their dog. There are some nasty tapeworm species that can hide in meat and offal though, which can infect your dog when eaten uncooked. It’s impossible for you to know whether these tiny worm species are in the food that you give your dog, so an important part of practising safe raw feeding is to give your dog monthly treatment against tapeworm.
Most dogs have outdoor access and most dogs LOVE to explore! All it takes is an accidental munch of a slug or snail – even a tiny one – to put your dog at risk of lungworm though. This worm brings potentially devastating health effects which have been known to be fatal.
If your dog has a wild or inquisitive side, they may not be able to resist the thrill of the hunt when they come across prey animals such as rodents, birds or even insects. If they are successful and decide to treat themselves to a snack, they may find themselves with a tummy full or worms rather than the prize from their hunting efforts, as many worm species can be transferred from prey animals. The same applies to dogs that can’t resist anything vaguely edible (we’re looking at you Labradors!) – a quick scavenge on a squirrel that has met its demise in the park, or a cheeky snack on some unfortunate roadkill can expose your dog to the same worm risks.
The only way to protect your dog against the effects of lungworm and the threat of roundworms and tapeworms that transfer via prey animals is by treating monthly for all worms.
Learn more about treating dog worms with Ridaworm here.
Learn more about treating dog worms with Prazitel Plus here.