Although Mandy, a Sheltie, generally stayed in her home or backyard, one day the gate was left open and her owners found her touring their quiet neighborhood. She was in prime health up to that point, so her owners did not worry initially - until they noticed red in her stool they suspected was blood. They knew to take her to her veterinarian as soon as possible and to bring a stool sample. After a microscopic examination of the stool, the veterinarian diagnosed Mandy with a case of roundworms.
ROUNDWORMS are contracted in various ways:
- A dog ingests roundworm eggs from a contaminated environment
- A mother dog transmits larvae to her pups before birth and during nursing
- An unsupervised dog consumes an infected small rodent
Thousands of people become infected with roundworms in the United States every year. How do people become infected? Large numbers of eggs can accumulate in the soil where dogs and cats are allowed to deficate. Humans become infected when they ingest infective eggs from the soil, from their hands, or another object.
Of the three types of roundworms affecting dogs, Toxocara canis has the most complex life cycle. It begins when the worms' eggs pass out in the infected animal's feces. These eggs survive in the environment and are later ingested by another dog. The larvae are released from the eggs and enter the wall of the new host's small intestine and eventually migrate through the liver and lungs. Finally they re-enter the intestine where they mature and mate, and eggs are passed again in the feces.
Roundworms live in the host's intestine and can cause malnutrition, diarrhea, vomiting, and a pot-bellied appearance. In rare cases, heavy infestations can lead to pneumonia and obstruction of the intestine. Pet owners should monitor this health threat by seeking a stool examination as often as recommended by their veterinarian, based upon risk. If there is a worm infestation, products such as our PROWormer-2® or Safe-Guard® Granules are effective de-worming products. All treatments essentially anesthetize the mature worms, allowing for their exit with the dog's feces. Two or three treatments are required, about 2-4 weeks apart, to rid the dog of worms as the worms mature. Some heartworm preventives include treatment for roundworms.
Prompt removal and disposal of dog stools is the first step in controlling the spread of roundworms. Additionally, pet owners need to monitor their dog's outdoor "nibbling" habits, and all breeding kennels should have a roundworm control program in place.