Roundworms in dogs and puppies are very common. Canine roundworms or Ascarids are one to seven inches long and live in the intestines of dogs. They are a parasite in dogs and multiply fast. An adult female can lay 200,000 eggs a day. The eggs are protected by a hard shell. They can live for years in the soil and are extremely hardy. A canine parasite obtains its nutrition from your dog and gives nothing in return except illness. Dogs with worms do not always show symptoms. Sometimes you can see worms on dogs around the anus area.
The dog acquires the canine worms through contact with soil or feces containing the eggs. The eggs are ingested orally and hatch in the intestines. Larvae are carried to the lungs by the bloodstream and become mobile. They crawl up the windpipe and are swallowed. This can cause spells of gagging and coughing. The dog worms return to the intestines where they develop into adult worms. This happens mainly in young puppies.
Only a few larvae return to the intestine in older dogs. The other larvae seals itself within a capsule in the tissue and remains dormant. In the last stages of pregnancy, the dormant larvae are released and re-enter the circulation and are carried to the unborn puppies. The larvae circulates and gets to the puppies through the breast milk.
Deworming the dam during pregnancy or before will not prevent dog roundworms in the unborn puppies. Medications will not work on larvae that are enclosed in a capsule. So the puppies are born with roundworms.
Adult roundworms in dogs do not cause many problems. Roundworms in puppies can cause death if they have a severe infestation. Puppies that suffer from heavy roundworm infestation have a dull coat and a pot bellied appearance. The normal signs of worms in dogs are diarrhea, vomiting, loss of weight and failure to thrive. The puppy may throw up dog worms or worms may be passed in the feces. They look like white earthworms or strands of spaghetti that are alive and moving.
Roundworms in humans cause a disease called Visceral Larva Migrans. Only a few cases are reported each year. Children are affected the most. The immature worms do not become adults because humans are not the normal host. Instead they travel in the tissue and wander aimlessly, causing anemia, fever, pneumonia, liver enlargement and other ill effects.
Prevention of roundworms is most effective by controlling infestation in the dog through good sanitation and regular deworming.
Roundworm treatment for dogs is done by deworming the dog with a piperazine component. It is the safest dewormer for puppies. To prevent contamination of the puppies quarters by roundworm eggs, the puppy should be dewormed by three weeks of age. A second treatment must be given 2-3 weeks later to kill any adult worms that were in the larvae stage at the first deworming.