Roundworm or ascarids are the most common of the internal (endoparasite) found inside dogs. The most important species is Toxocara Canis. An infestation with this worms is known as Toxocariasis. Almost all dogs become infected with this worm at sometime in their life usually in puppy stage. Roundworm may be contracted in different ways which makes them easy to spread and hard to control .
Pups get Toxocara from their mother while they are in the mother’s womb or from milk secreted by female dog. Another way these worm are passed is when roundworm are larva are present in the tissue of the mouse or other small mammal and dog get infested when they eat these animal. Dogs can also contract this worm from contaminated soil.
What are sign and symptom of roundworm?
Adult roundworm lives in the affected dog’s intestines. Many dogs do not show sign of infestation until they are heavily infested. Roundworm may cause mild diarrhea and vomiting in puppies. They may have weight loss and dull hair. Occasionally pups or adult pass spaghetti – like worms in stool or vomit. They will appear white or light brown in color and may be several inches long. Rarely, a severe worm load may cause a pot bellied appearance, abdominal pain, dehydration, or even death. Dog may cough incessantly if worm move to lungs.
Ways to prevent dogs from roundworm?
Because roundworm can enter your dog’s body in many different ways, it is essential to keep your dog living area clean especially kennel. Remove faeces(stool) regularly and prevent your dog from eating wild animals like rat that may harboring the worm in their body. Similarly there is possibility of invasion through skin and paws.
A pregnant bitch should be treated with safe deworming agent recommended by your vet during last weeks of pregnancy to reduce infestation to pups and environmental contamination. The pups should be dewormed every two week, starting at two of age of two week and continuing until they are 12 weeks old. Healthy male dog over six month of age should be dewormed yearly and female should be dewormed after each estrus cylce. All dogs should be dewormed after treatment with corticosteroid (e.g. prednisolone) drugs which weakens the immune system and whenever they are weaken by stress or illness. It is often more practical to deworm dog routinely, twice or thrice a year. Faecal examination should be conducted 2 to 4 times during the first year of life and 1 to 2 times each year in adult,
What are risk poses to Public health?
Toxocara Canis can cause a condition in human known as visceral larva migran.this condition can occur when a person, usually a child accidently ingest Toxocara egg from soil that is contaminated with faeces. The eggs evolves into larva, but because it is a wrong host, it fails to complete its natural life cycle. Instead it moves to the lungs, liver, or even the eyes where it forms a cyst and provoke an inflammatory response. This response can cause anything from coughing or wheezing to blurred vision or even loss of visions (which is rare). Routine use of effective dewormer( for eg pyrental poamate) and cleaning up after your dog defecation are the most effective way to reduce the incidence of Toxocariasis in both dogs and humans.
Human Toxocariasis should not be confused with a completely different disease toxoplasmosis which is sometimes transmitted to human from cat and other animal.
How to diagnose and treat?
The roundworm infestation is diagnosed from finding worm egg in the dog’s faeces during a microscopic examination. Treatment with medication such as selemectin is highly effective. Beside treating puppies with Pyrantal Pamoate is also very effective. Similarly mebendazole can be also considered as it has wide safety margin. It has to be given to dog for 3 to 5 days.
Written by Dr Pratik Man Pradhan B.V.Sc &A.H
Chief Veterinarian (Mount Everest Kennel Club)