24/7 Emergency Service

After hour phone (09) 470 1060

Round Worms & Puppies

As vets we talk a lot about worms & how important it is to ensure that your dog is regularly wormed to keep everyone (family and pets) safe & healthy.

This was brought into sharp focus for us when a concerned dog owner brought a young puppy to the clinic. The pup was a few weeks old and gravely ill. It would not eat and was vomiting. Sadly the puppy died despite the treatment .

A post mortem quickly told us the reason the pup would not have recovered. Although the pup’s abdomen was not swollen or bloated the intestines were blocked by a mass of ascarid (“round”) worms. As we cut open the intestines, a mass of wriggling white worms poured out.

Adult dogs (and people ) can pick up worm eggs from soil in your garden, park or farmland. Handling contaminated soil & then touching your face or mouth soon   afterwards allows the wriggly parasites to sneak into the body via the mouth.

What is important to know about these tricky parasitic worms, is that they often will be hiding in a “resting” state in the muscles of adult dogs. In pregnant bitches they also hide in the mammary glands. During pregnancy her hormones “wake up” the resting parasites at day 55 of pregnancy. Worm larvae that have been resting in the muscles start to move through the body of the pregnant bitch and burrow themselves through the placenta and into the foetal pups. If a pup has managed to avoid worm infestation while in the womb, the other worm larvae hiding in the bitch’s mammary glands will enter the pups as they drink their mum’s milk. They are very clever little parasites and therefore hard to control.

Worms inside the pup’s intestines disrupt digestion causing ill thrift and general malaise in otherwise healthy pups. They can physically block the intestines. The larvae that enter the pups through the mother’s milk do not stay in the intestines at first. They actually burrow their way through the pup’s liver and lungs causing damage as they go. They are coughed up and swallowed, so they can re-enter the pup’s   digestive tract, bigger, more hungry and more damaging.

It is important to worm little pups from 2 weeks old, EVERY two weeks until they are 3 months old, then 3 monthly forever. We can also see how vital it is to worm the pregnant bitches, before, during & after birth to minimise risk to the pups.

Not all wormers will kill all the stages of the ascarid worm life cycle. So if you have a pregnant bitch or are expecting puppies it is very important to get good advice and buy good wormers from any of our clinics to kill round worms before they damage or kill the pups.

Regular worming of all dogs with effective wormers is the key to minimising the impact of these parasites of the human and dog populations.

by Dr Jules Wilson BVetMed MRCVS