Intestinal worms in dogs
When should I worm my dog?
Worm your puppy every two weeks from birth until three months of age (with a suitable puppy wormer) and then once a month to six months of age. Worm the bitch at the same time. By six months use an adult wormer. Worm adult dogs every three to four months for the rest of their lives.
Are intestinal worms infectious to humans?
Two of the dog intestinal worms are a potential source of infection for humans:
Roundworm is a common intestinal worm of the puppy but rarer in the adult dog. It is transmitted directly from the bitch to pups via the placenta and later via the milk and is the reason we worm pups so early in life. It has a complicated life cycle and part of it is spent moving through the host's body. Children are more susceptible than adult humans to infection with roundworm eggs and can have complications to the larval stages. Blindness and skin irritations are the most common problems. Puppies with heavy infections of roundworm tend to do poorly and usually look pot-bellied. A severe infection can block the intestinal tract. Pups should be wormed for their own health as well as to prevent the spread to humans.
The Hydatid tapeworm is a major health risk to humans. In the dog it is a tiny tapeworm that does little to harm the host dog. In the human it causes a massive cyst in the liver which can leak and cause nasty immune reactions. It requires surgical removal. The dog develops hydatid tapeworm after eating raw sheep offal contaminated with its larval stage. The adult worm lives in the dog's intestinal tract where it sheds eggs into the dog's faeces. If a sheep eats the eggs the life-cycle is completed and the larvae stay dormant in the sheep's liver until a dog eats them. Humans are infected from the dog usually by patting an infected dog and then accidently ingesting the eggs. Working sheep dogs are at risk in certain areas in Australia. Tasmania is totally free of this particular worm. At risk dogs should be wormed every 6 weeks with a hydatid tapewormer anddogs should never be fed raw offal.
Treatment of intestinal worms
For worming adult dogs use a broad-spectrum wormer often called an all-wormer or a 4 in 1 wormer. Resistance can occur where the worms are no longer killed by the medication. For that reason, at least once a year use a medication different to your usual one (look at the active ingredients and not the brand name). Choose a tablet that does tapeworm also as this worm is transmitted by fleas and is extremely common.