It was once a common assumption that dogs would have worms – it was just a part of life, and there was nothing to be done to prevent or cure it. Now, we know more, and worm prevention is just a simple part of dog care.
No one wants their protection dogs to have worms. A protection dog with a worm infestation is not going to feel their best, and is more prone to illnesses. Your personal protection dog needs to be in top form to do their job for you. As a dog owner, you need to know how to worm your dogs, and how often. This is more important than some people realize, because dogs can infect people with serious illnesses because of worm infestations, and the infestations can even become lethal to the dog. Diseases that can be passed from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases. Many of them can become quite serious, up to and including causing blindness. Armed with a little knowledge, it is a fairly simple process to prevent this from becoming a serious problem.
Worms are more common and problematic with younger dogs, but adult protection dogs still need regular worm treatments. Any dog can become infected or reinfected with worms at any time. A protection dog that was wormed quite recently could become reinfected at any time.
The two most common varieties of worms that infect protection dogs are roundworms and tapeworms. Some of them will even infest more than one animal in their life cycle. For example, the flea tapeworm spreads by infecting fleas. The immature flea looks like a tiny maggot, and it will eat the eggs produced by a tapeworm. The egg hatches in the flea and infests it. When the flea is swallowed by a dog or cat while they are grooming, the flea is digested in the animal’s intestine. At this point, the tapeworm starts using the animal, and it becomes infested. It is even possible for a human to be infested, if an infected flea jumps from the animal into their mouth.
So, how often should I worm my Protection dogs?
The answer to this varies, so we need to understand more about worms and how they are transmitted to arrive at this answer. Much will depend on local conditions, so there are no one-size-fits-all answers.
How does a Protection dog get infested with worms?
Worms breed prolifically, and they have very few natural predators, so there are quite a few worms out there, ready and eager to infest your dog. Worm eggs are too tiny to spot visually, and your protection dog can run into them from many sources, such as:
- Animal feces
- Contaminated soil
- Scavenging or hunting food
- Mother’s milk
While roundworms and tapeworms are the most common types, there are many species, including hookworms, whipworms, and threadworms. It can be difficult to know that your personal protection dog is infected with any of these varieties. Your dog can seem perfectly healthy, and worms do not always show up in the stool or vomit. There are symptoms, and you should certainly take note of them if your protection dog displays them. Scooting their rear on the ground, swollen abdomen, vomiting, weight loss, and diarrhoea could all be caused by a worm infestation. Even if there are no symptoms, it’s still better to treat your dog before the symptoms appear, because those symptoms mean that your dog is suffering damage to their health. A protection dog with worms but no symptoms yet can still pass worms and other illnesses to other animals or people.
Let’s take a look at the common types of worm that may infect your dogs.
The large roundworms that infect dogs and cats will produce thousands of eggs, and are common in puppies. When these eggs are ingested, the immature worm is released, and it leaves the gut and migrates around the body, eventually landing in the intestines. There, they develop into a mature adult form, and lay more eggs. In older animals, they can stop migrating before reaching the intestines, where they cause cysts but little actual harm. If a bitch becomes pregnant, these dormant worms reactivate and migrate to the intestines, the milk glands, and even the puppies in the womb.
Pets catch tapeworms by eating the raw flesh of prey, such as mice or birds, if the prey has tapeworm cysts.
So, how often should I worm?
It is generally recommended that you worm your personal protection dogs every 3 months, at a minimum. This will kill any worms present and prevent them from developing into a problem that will damage your dog’s health, or spread to other animals or humans. There are situations that call for more frequent worming, such as puppies, where they should be wormed every 2 weeks until they’re 12 weeks old. For a safe, effective worming regimen, you should follow the advice of your Veterinarian.
It is also important to control fleas on your protection dog, because if fleas are present, they can be a source of constant re-infection, making it impossible to keep your dog worm-free and healthy.
Be a Responsible Pet Owner
Fortunately, there is plenty that one can do to prevent or eliminate the risk of worms in your personal protection dogs.
Dispose of dog droppings safely, cover sandboxes when they’re not in use to prevent cats from using them as litterboxes, and maintain control of your personal protection dogs when on walks.
In short, unless your dogs are in elevated risk conditions, simply worm them 4 times a year, or every 90 days.