We all know worms are gross, and definitely not something we want to think about wriggling inside of our beloved four-legged friends!
To help highlight the importance of keeping up with regular worming treatments for your pet, we’ve put together 6 facts that you need to know about worms in your dog.
The most common worms that live in your canine friend’s intestines fall into two broad categories – roundworms and tapeworms, and they are very easy for your pooch to pick up in their everyday lives.
Some worms can pass from Mum to pup, before the puppy is even born, or through the milk. This is why good worming programmes for breeding bitches and puppies are so vital. Read more about parasites and your puppy.
For adult dogs, the infective eggs most commonly lurk in soil, having been pooed out by other animals who are carrying worms (lovely!). As your dog is snuffling and rummaging – as dogs do – they can unknowingly end up eating some of these infective eggs, which then develop into adult worms inside your dog. Your dog will then poop out worm eggs.
Other routes of infection can be through hunting or scavenging (sorry Labradors, but we are looking at you!), as small mammals and birds can be infected with worms, which then leads to an infection in your pet. Raw meat can be another source of infection, so dogs fed a raw diet can be more at risk. Finally, fleas can carry a certain type of tapeworm, which reinforces the importance of flea control. There is more about the different worms and how they can infect your dog here.
Some dogs may develop symptoms of worms, such as diarrhoea, weight loss or other tummy upsets. Others may get an itchy bum – we’ve all seen the classic scooting across the carpet move! Or you may even see worm segments that look like grains of rice crawling around your dog’s back end, or worms in their poop (definitely not something to think about whilst eating your lunch). More likely than not though, you won’t even know if your dog has worms.
This doesn’t mean that they aren’t problematic though, as they are still producing infective eggs that could make other dogs or people ill. This is why all dogs should receive regular worming treatments. They help to protect your whole family – of the canine and human variety. That’s because some worms don’t just threaten your dog’s health, they can pass to humans too – which we get onto below!
So, as if it isn’t bad enough that your dog has worms, some of these worms can also threaten your family’s health too – especially those with more vulnerable immune systems, such as children.
Toxocara, a roundworm, is one which is frequently talked about – and with good reason! It is thought that one-quarter of the UK and Irish population have been exposed to Toxocara spp, and a recent study found Toxocara type eggs in 87% of parks!1 Although the long-term impact of Toxocara in people isn’t fully known, it has been linked with blindness, epilepsy, cognitive development delays in children, and asthma – children, the elderly and immunosuppressed are most at risk.1 This is one reason picking up and disposing of your dog’s poop (as well as it being pretty gross to leave in public places!), and good worming routines are so important.
You can read more about this in ‘Can I Catch Worms from my Pets?’.
Most vet practices base their worming recommendations on ESCCAP (European Scientific Counsel for Companion Animal Parasites) guidelines. This is what we use too!
These guidelines are made using the latest scientific research by parasitology experts from across Europe and are reviewed regularly – in other words, they are based on science and written by people who really know what they are talking about. They recommend that dogs should be wormed according to their lifestyle and individual risk.
As a general rule, if your dog does any of the following, they should be wormed monthly:
This is to protect your dog and family from the potentially nasty effects of worms. Most other dogs will need worming quarterly. We have more information in ‘Dog worms – all you need to know about treating them’.
Pregnant bitches and puppies need special worming programmes, which your vet can help you with. We also have some puppy-specific information here.
A recent dog owner survey found that a whopping 97% of UK dogs should be wormed monthly, according to their lifestyle and risk.2 Yet on average, UK dogs are only wormed 3.1 times per year!2 This leaves pets and people at risk of the effects of worms. You can read more about the importance of monthly worming here.
It’s important to remember that no wormer prevents intestinal worms, it just treats the worms that are already there. This means reinfection is possible and why regular worming is so important for your dog. Once you’ve worked out how often your dog needs worming, some products such as ‘Prazitel Plus tablets for dogs’ kill all types of intestinal worm that affect UK dogs, which can make it easier to ensure that your dog (and family) are covered!
Learn more about treating dog worms with Ridaworm here.
Learn more about treating dog worms with Prazitel Plus here.
Last updated June 2023