It is not easy to break the life cycle of intestinal parasites like roundworms and dog tapeworms. The main hurdles are the encysted larvae that can remain in a dog’s body for years. Furthermore, since worm eggs are resistant to environmental changes, they can remain dormant for a long time before becoming active.
Looking for an appropriate treatment at the first visible signs of worms in dogs is the first thing that should be done. Noticing the symptoms of worms in dogs depends on the amount of time that you spend with your dog and the level of care that you provide for your pet. Keeping your eyes open for such symptoms should be a priority as these parasites can pass on to humans, too. Preventive measures become equally important so that you can ensure that your pet does not get infected again.
There are three ways by which roundworms infect dogs:
- Larvae present in female dogs can be passed on to puppies in utero and through mother’s milk.
- Larvae in the tissues of an intermediate host can be indirectly ingested when the animal is eaten.
- Eggs in the environment can be directly consumed by dogs.
All worm elimination programs should address all three at the same time for prevention to be effective.
Encysted larvae are the most difficult to eliminate. Total elimination is possible only if the animal is isolated. Complete de-infestation can occur only if female dogs are de-wormed regularly. This results in total elimination over generations. Ensuring that a pregnant bitch is de-wormed from the 40th day of conception to the 14th day after delivering the litter can help in restricting the transmission of larvae to her litter. Feline parasites generally do not pass on in the uterus. Bottle-feeding kittens ensures that they are not passed on through mother’s milk either.
A significant part of preventing roundworm infestation pertains to the hygienic conditions of the environment. Cleaning the environment involves:
- A regular routine of disposing the pet’s droppings
- Ensuring that the floor of the dog’s house is clean and dirt free
- Weekly cleaning of the area with household bleach diluted in water
- Removing contaminated soil, digging up to one foot and turning it over is also acceptable
- Killing mice and rodents as they are a potential source of the infection
Roundworm treatment is simple. All you need to do is to administer de-worming drugs periodically until the entire system is clean. The de-worming drugs are safe and effective but should be used under a veterinarian’s care. Guidance on dosage and time period is imperative because stopgap medications are not likely to produce the desired results. De-worming needs to be repeated at bi-weekly or monthly intervals. Some drugs only anesthetize roundworms, which are then excreted and could re-infect the dog.
It is important to remember that roundworm eggs are highly resistant to environmental changes and disinfectants. Cleaning the area with disinfectants only removes the sticky properties of the roundworm eggshell and makes them soluble in water. These also need to be removed for complete and effective prevention.