Dog Manual


Worms

There are many illusions about worms. Some dog owners believe that worming a dog consists merely of giving the dog a worm tablet or capsule. Others are under the impression that dogs always have worms—that worms are somehow natural to the dog and that all dogs should be wormed periodically. Others have the idea that the feeding of sugar and candy will cause worms in dogs, that garlic will eliminate worms, that there is a worm under a dog's tongue, and that humans never catch worms from dogs. It is sufficient to state that all these ideas are incorrect.

Worming dogs is a dangerous procedure and should be performed only with expert guidance. In order to undergo the strain of worming, the animal should be in apparent good health, for if some disease process already exists worming might aggravate the condition.

The normally healthy animal should never be wormed unless the parasites are positively identified. Veterinarians do this by microscopic examination of the animal's stool. Indiscriminate worming will almost invariably affect the dog's health adversely and should therefore definitely be avoided. The parasite must be positively identified to determine the specific species of worm, since there are many different species and each of these must be treated in a different manner. It is therefore not good sense simply to buy a "worm capsule" and expect it to do its job, since the capsule might incorporate the medication effective against one type of worm while the animal is affected with another.

Animals with worms have a tendency to bloat easily. There may be occasional nausea with some vomiting and diarrhea. The eyes may tear and the animal may rub on its bottom or bite its tail. The animal may appear unhealthy, have a ruffled hair coat and have either a very poor or a ravenous appetite. If there is a mild infestation, many dogs will seem apparently normal in every respect.

Worms may occur at any time during the animal's life, though they seem to be most prevalent in the puppy. This is due to the fact that puppies often have an excellent opportunity to catch worms either from the mother dog or in the kennels where they are raised. The worms are usually found in the stool or they may be vomited.

dog worms
The types of worms most commonly encountered are tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms. Tapeworms are flat and segmented in structure and their segments are commonly seen with the naked eye, in the stool, in the form of cream-colored, rice-shaped rods; in fact, they look just like slightly enlarged beads of rice. Roundworms may be up to several inches in length, are the easiest to identify, and usually have the appearance of curled-up spaghetti. Whipworms are very thin, are about an inch long, and taper off in a whiplike mechanism at one end. Hookworms are about a quarter of an inch long and are usually identified by noting their eggs on microscopic examination of the stool.

Worms are commonly transmitted from animal to animal by means of the worm egg. Fleas, too, often help to transmit worm larvae. Animals ordinarily become infected by sniffing or licking other animals' droppings. Thus they pick up worm eggs from the affected stool and, after these eggs mature and reproduce, worms make their appearance in the new host. The common idea that sweets will cause worms is an old fallacy. Worms can come only from other worms. They can come about in no other way. Because the dog licks up worm eggs from affected stool, it is dangerous to permit it to kiss you because tapeworm eggs may be transmitted in this way, and this worm can develop in the human being as well as in the dog.

There are a great many medicines used in the treatment of worms. There is no point in mentioning them here because the most effective ones can be purchased only on a veterinarian's prescription. Since most worm medicines in effective doses are poisons, they must be administered with caution and the animal should be under professional supervision during the worming so that proper measures can be taken should any toxic reactions arise from the medication. This note should dispel once and for all the illusion that worming is a simple process that demands no special knowledge or that it might not be dangerous to the animal.

A highly recommended hygienic measure is to have the animal's stool checked twice a year. If the examination shows that the stool is negative, the owner is assured that the animal is clean. If worms are demonstrated, then the prompt elimination of the infestation is advisable to avoid the possibility of any serious complications.

Heartworms

Since the heartworm is rather different from the other types of worms, it is well to discuss it separately. This parasite is seen quite often, enjoys a world-wide distribution, but is found most frequently in warmer climates. The adult worms are slender, whitish in color, and vary in size from five to seven inches in length in the male worm to twice that size in the female. They lodge mainly in the right ventricle of the heart and in the pulmonary artery, though they may be seen, in rare instances, in other parts of the body. Neglected cases of heartworm infestation will invariably result in death. Therefore, in obscure conditions that do not react favorably to routine treatment, the possibility of the existence of heart-worm should be given due consideration.


The symptoms of heartworm infestation are indefinite. Sometimes the animal may appear healthy in every respect and the diagnosis may come as a complete surprise to the owner. In the ordinary case, the animal does not appear in good health, and coughing is a very common symptom. After vigorous exercise the animal may tire easily, lie down, gasp for breath, and sometimes collapse.

Long-standing cases may show a marked abdominal enlargement, due to improper circulation resulting in the accumulation of liquid in the abdominal cavity. This condition is called dropsy. Further, swellings may appear on the legs and on other parts of the body. In infected animals, certain nervous symptoms such as a peculiarly fixed stare, fear of light, and convulsions have been noted.
Diagnosis is established by the identification of the heart-worm larvae on microscopic examination of the blood. The blood examination is usually performed after ordinary methods of examination yield inconclusive results. In warmer climates, where the incidence of these worms is often very high, it is advisable to have the blood checked periodically for this parasite.

Heartworm larvae may be transmitted from animal to animal through the bite of certain species of mosquitoes, which act as intermediate hosts. It is believed that dog fleas may also act as intermediate hosts in their transmission.

The treatment of heartworms is specific and has been performed routinely with considerable success in moderate infestations. It consists of a series of injections which are administered periodically until there is no further evidence of heartworm larvae in the blood. The heavier the infestation, the less favorable will be the outcome. There is also a fairly effective tablet medication.