What is roundworm?
Roundworms are the most common parasitic worms found in dogs. There are actually 2 different species of roundworm, but the effects each species has on dogs is identical. Adult roundworms can reach 7 inches in length (although they are more commonly about 3 inches in length), and they live in the stomach and intestines of their host. Adult females can lay over 200,000 hard-shelled eggs each day. Eggs are passed from the body in the stool. The hard coating allows the eggs to survive outside the body for years. Puppies have a much higher risk of contracting roundworm and exhibiting symptoms as the immune systems of older dogs can usually rid the body of roundworms before symptoms appear. In addition, in adults, if roundworms are present in their larval stage, they often form a cyst to protect themselves from the host's immune system and remain inactive. These encysted larvae become activated during pregnancy, and they can be transferred to the puppies in the womb. In severe cases, the worms can become so numerous that they block the intestines, and, in rare instances, can cause death.
What will roundworm look like in my dog?
The symptoms of roundworm include diarrhea (sometimes bloody), vomiting, weight loss and abdominal pain and/or swelling. In some cases, if the roundworms have migrated to your dog's respiratory system, your dog may also develop a cough. In addition, with more severe cases of roundworm, your dog may vomit roundworm or pass the roundworms in his stool. Roundworms look like spaghetti and are generally about 3 inches long.
How does my dog get roundworm?
There are four ways in which roundworm infections may occur: consuming eggs from the environment, consuming infected prey, nursing from an infected mother, transmission through the placenta when a puppy is in the womb.
How is roundworm diagnosed?
A physical examination along with a stool analysis can diagnose roundworm.
How is roundworm treated?
There are several deworming medications such as Drontal Plus®, Panacur®, and Vercom® that can rid your adult dog of roundworm. A medication called Nemex® is used for brooding puppies.
How is roundworm prevented?
Several heartworm preventatives such as Heartgard® Plus and Interceptor® prevent roundworm.
Can I get roundworm from my dog?
Yes. You can become infected with roundworm if you accidentally consume the eggs.