Q&A: How do Dogs Get Roundworms?
- From mom! Puppies can be born with it. 🙁
- Environment (dirt, plants)
- Other animals (earthworms, insects, birds)
These are just a few bullet points, so keep reading for a more complete “how do dogs get roundworms?” answer, including what are roundworms?, symptoms, treatment, and can death by roundworm happen?…
CC Image “Puppies” courtesy of Cyril Lookin/Flickr – Thx Cyril (& puppies)!
You wonder if you’re feeding the best food, if they’re getting enough exercise and of course, you always want them to be happy.
One of the most worried about topics for a dog owner, however, can often be roundworms.
The biggest problem dog owners have, many times, is simply a lack of knowledge on the subjects that worry them.
Well today, that’s what we want to alleviate!
Knowing the facts about something not only helps you to have a better level of peace of mind, but it also helps you to not panic if you think that situation has come up.
What Are Roundworms?
What about roundworms?
To start with, they are the most common worm that a dog can get. In fact, nearly all dogs will have roundworms at least once in their lives.
Since they can be contracted is so many ways, they are incredibly easy to spread and sometimes can be hard to control.
Fun fact: puppies are sometimes born with roundworms!
The mother dog can pass roundworms along to her babies before they are even born. They can also be passed along through mother’s milk, or through other things an outdoor puppy might eat.
As you might have guessed, roundworms take up residence in the intestinal tract of your dog. While there, they will eat the food that the dog hasn’t fully digested in his system.
In the long run, and especially in puppies and small dogs, this can quickly lead to undernourishment.
Puppies are more prone to a roundworm infection since they don’t yet have fully functional immune systems.
Older dogs do, and can fight off the worms a lot more easily than the puppies and young dogs.
How Do Dogs Contract Roundworms?
As mentioned earlier, puppies can be born with roundworms already in their system.
The main reason for this is that even after a dog has received treatment for worms, roundworm larvae can become encased in the dog’s body tissue and be a dormant, but active, issue for the rest of the dog’s life.
When a dog becomes pregnant, however, those larvae become activated again and are passed along from mother to puppy.
That’s why, even puppies born to an apparently healthy mama dog need to be checked and treated for roundworms.
In some cases, the mother dog can be treated for worms while she is pregnant, just in case, but make sure to check with your vet to find the best way to accomplish this.
Roundworms can also be picked up from the environment.
Sometimes roundworm eggs can be found in the dirt, on yard plants or even particular objects that are outside.
Other animals can carry roundworms too, including earthworms, insects, birds and rodents.
While these are not a roundworm’s favorite host, they can still take up residence there, waiting to be passed along to the dog, where it can finally mature and cause problems.
What Are The Symptoms of Roundworms?
Since roundworms are so common, and so easy for a puppy or dog to contract, you definitely want to know what the symptoms are.
Early recognition means early treatment, and we know that’s always best.
Not all of these symptoms mean that your dog definitely has roundworms, especially if there’s just one.
Sometimes, there might be no symptoms at all.
However, roundworms can cause a lot of problems, not to mention staying dormant inside your dog’s body for life, so it’s best to have it checked out if you’re in doubt.
Some of the symptoms of roundworms might include:
- Abdominal swelling
- Poor nursing
- Complete lack of energy
- No desire to eat
- Poop out worms (lest we not forget!)
Your Vet may decide to do a fecal swab to look for roundworm eggs, but if dead roundworms are being passed through your dog’s system, that’s enough evidence.
Could My Dog Die From Roundworms?
Some puppies that become infested with roundworms will experience severe diarrhea.
This can cause them to not only fail to thrive, but they can also become severely dehydrated.
In really bad cases, and where no vet is ever contacted, it is possible for the dog to die.
Infestations of roundworms in your dog could also lead to:
- Obstruction of the intestines
- Other abnormal body functions that can eventually be fatal
While the worm itself does not specifically kill the dog, the problems that can arise from their presence can. And that’s why it is so important to have your dog checked if you have any doubts.
What is The Treatment for Roundworm?
There are lots of over the counter dewormers that you can purchase, even without consulting your Vet.
In fact, it’s actually best to treat all puppies for roundworms at two-week intervals, starting at two weeks of age and going until eight weeks of age.
Severe cases, if it actually comes to that, should most definitely be treated by a vet. He will likely administer a strong dose of dewormer by mouth and then instruct you to bring in stool samples at two weeks and four weeks after the initial treatment.
There are also some things you can do at home to help ease the situation as well.
For instance, it’s important to know that some worms thrive on sugary, starchy foods. It’s important to know the ingredients in your dog’s kibble, so that you alleviate some of the problem from the start.
Some people even use fermented vegetables as a home remedy for treating worms.
The best part in using fermented veggies to treat your dogs is that you can make them at home!
Don’t worry though, you can also order them or buy them from a local market as well if you’re not up to trying the procedure yourself.
A Note of Caution
Roundworms are one of the types of worms that dogs can easily pass along to humans. It can cause an array of problems, even causing blindness if the worms migrate to the eyes.
It is SUPER important, if you even slightly suspect that your dog has roundworms, to make sure to be clean and get him to a vet at the first symptoms.
It’s always a good idea, and we recommend, preventative treatment as soon as possible. This can be done with either over the counter meds or by regular vet screenings.
That old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure” is never more relevant than in a case like this.
Have you had a dog that has contracted roundworms?
If so, we’d love to hear the treatment that came through for you.
Was it over the counter medications?
A vet who knew exactly what to do?
Be sure to drop us a line in the comments to let us and our other readers know!