Roundworm is a very common internal parasite.
Nearly all dogs will be infected at some point in their lives, and since this parasite can also affect you and your family, it’s important to know what to look for.
How is Roundworm transmitted?
Roundworms infect dogs of all ages but most commonly puppies who acquire infection before birth or soon after through their mother’s milk.
Roundworm can also be easily transmitted through the environment. Eggs are shed in the faeces of an infected dog and if your puppy or dog ingests these eggs, the adult worm can develop in their intestines and so the cycle continues.
Signs and symptoms of Roundworm
The worm deprives the host of nutrients causing malnourishment and in the case of puppies, stunted growth and weakness.
In all dogs symptoms can vary from very mild to severe. They include a pot-belly or abdominal pain, coughing if the adult worms migrate to the lungs, diarrhea and vomiting or a dull coat. and weight loss
You may also notice worms in your dog’s poop or vomit, they’re usually white or light brown and a few inches long…they look a bit like spaghetti.
While symptoms of roundworm can be associated with many other illnesses, if your puppy or dog is displaying any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to a vet for testing and treatment as soon as possible.
How Roundworms spread
Roundworms can spread easily with one roundworm producing up to 200,000 eggs a day! While it’s rare, roundworms can cause problems in people.
While most people have only mild symptoms, they can cause serious disease in some cases and, because children are more likely to play in areas where animals may have toileted and may be less likely to wash their hand, they are most at risk of exposure.
Prevention and treatment
Ensure you and your family follow good hygiene practises by always washing hands after touching or playing in areas frequented by dogs and pick up dog faeces as quickly as possible to prevent transmission.
Importantly, ensure your dog’s worming is up to date to help protect them and your family from roundworm and other zoonotic parasites… meaning those that can be passed from pets to people.
To help prevent them I generally suggest using a monthly total parasite preventative like NexGard SPECTRA.
Learn more about how it protects your dog from worms, plus fleas, ticks and other parasites with monthly chew on their website here.
Or pick up a pack from your local PETstock store or online store.
Dr Melissa Meehan is a highly experienced and respected veterinary surgeon with over 14 years experience. Dr Melissa obtained her Members in Small Animal Medicine through examination in 2008 and now runs her own veterinary ophthalmology service.