Roundworms are long, tube-shaped worms that infect a dog’s intestines.
How do dogs get roundworms?
- Puppies can become infected with roundworms from their mother — both before they are born and while nursing.
- Dogs can also get infected by r ingesting the parasite’s eggs (from feces-contaminated soil and other contaminated objects)
- Eating a rodent that is already infected with roundworms
Infected dogs shed roundworm eggs through their stool. Larvae develop inside the eggs 2-4 weeks later, making them infectious to another dog.
After ingestion, roundworm larvae migrate through the walls of the intestines, liver, and lungs. Larvae are then coughed up from the lungs, swallowed and finally grow into adult roundworms that live in the dog’s intestines.
The common signs of roundworms in dogs:
Dogs can get roundworms at any age; however, some have no symptoms. Puppies are more likely to experience clinical signs.
Signs of a roundworm infection include:
- Pot-bellied appearance
- Poor coat quality
- Weight loss
- Stunted growth
In rare cases, a severe infestation can cause a blockage in the intestine, which could be deadly.
Roundworms can be diagnosed by using a microscope to identify eggs in a dog’s stool sample. Pet owners may also see adult worms in their dog’s stools or vomit.
A fecal test called an antigen test can also be helpful for detecting the presence of roundworms, especially if the dog has a low number of eggs in their stool.
How is a roundworm infection treated?
- Use of deworming medications, such as pyrantel or fenbendazole.
- Monthly heartworm preventatives containing medications such as milbemycin, can also treat roundworms.
- Repeating treatment after two weeks is often necessary to ensure the complete resolution of roundworm infections.
- Puppies should receive dewormer routinely — starting at two weeks of age, repeating every two weeks until approximately eight weeks of age, and then continued monthly.
- Pregnant dogs should be treated late in pregnancy, around 40 days, and they should receive treatment at the same interval as their puppies while nursing.
Are roundworms infectious to people?
Yes, although this is more likely to occur in children, who may put objects in their mouth or accidentally consume dirt in a contaminated environment such as parks, sandboxes, playgrounds, gardens, and other similar environments.
Unlike in dogs, adult roundworms do not develop in the intestines of humans, and roundworm larvae can migrate through organs, often without any symptoms. However, in some cases, the migrating larvae could cause serious damage to the nerves or eyes.
How can I keep myself and my dog safe?
- Prompt removal and disposal of feces
- Keeping dogs on monthly dewormer
- Routine deworming of puppies
- Preventing dogs from eating rodents
- Good hand hygiene
- Preventing children from playing in areas where pets or other animals defecate