Worms are small linear parasites that can infest the intestinal tract of mammals and other animals.
A worm infestation can remain undetected for a longer period of time. The most obvious symptom is intermittent looseness of the stools or even diarrhea. Additionally, the presence of worms can cause chronic irritation of the bowels and result in chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). As a result, nutrition is absorbed poorly and dogs start to lose weight, despite the fact they may still eating a normal amount of food or have a voracious appetite. Due to the lack of nutrients being absorbed by the body the coat may become dull and scruffy. Hair loss and skin conditions develop in rare cases.
Worms such as toxocara and toxascaris are most common in dogs. They beging their infectious journey as worm eggs that are ingested when a dog eats contaminated foods. Worms also infect dogs when a dog touches or eats the stool of an infected animal. And even puppies too are at risk – they can become infected if they drink infected milk given to them by their mother. Once inside a dog, worms live off the food the dogs eats and hijack the animal's digestive process for calories. Their payload? The ability to produce large numbers of eggs. These worm eggs then spread again into to the outside world through escaping as cargo catching a ride in the dog's poop. Once again in the outside world, worm eggs mature into larvae that can infest dogs or other susceptible animals.
Actual worm eggs can be isolated from a fecal sample. Infestation with worms can be treated effectively with antihelmintic drugs such as ivermectin. However, chronic irritation and inflammation of the bowels are severe symptoms and require prolonged treatment.
The most effective way of preventing infestation with worms is a regular treatment with a high-quality antihelminti. An adult dog should receive proper doses 3-4 times a year. Unfortunately - a worm cure is not a vaccination, and can only remove the worms after dogs have become infested. It is therefore important to maintain a tight de-worming regimen. Also, watch out! Worms can also infest humans. Children have a higher risk of infestation. After making physical contact with animals, hands should be washed thoroughly with soap. When cleaning the litter box, it is advisable to wear disposable gloves.