Intestinal parasites often referred to as “Worms” can cause severe and life threatening diseases. Much to the surprise of many pet owners, several canine parasites are transmissible to humans as well. This is why understanding these parasitic health symptoms, hazards, and treatments are important to set preventative measures for the whole household.
It is important to realize there are many more parasites other than just roundworms and tapeworms that commonly come to mind. Whipworms, Hookworms, and many other worms can cause serious life threatening complications.
How do dogs get worms?
Most tapeworms require an intermediate host, which means most of the time they aren’t passed from pet to pet. Common intermediate hosts include fleas and small rodents. It’s important to note that dogs will become reinvested with tapeworms if these hosts aren’t controlled.
Dogs can become infected with roundworms by eating worm eggs from contaminated soil or stool. Although more common in cats, dogs can also become infected by eating infected rodents.
Although human infection occurs rarely, it can cause significant health issues depending on where the worms migrate to. If you have been exposed to a pet with worms, we recommend talking with your physician to discuss any potential problems.
Types of worms
Usually spread in feces or during pregnancy or nursing, the roundworm causes a serious infection in dogs and puppies. The roundworm eats the food of its host and may cause diarrhea and other symptoms. It’s important to note that roundworms in puppies can be fatal. Human infection of roundworms can cause even more serious symptoms and implications.
Hookworms suck the blood out of their hosts, mostly in the small intestine. Mothers can infect their puppies, and adult dogs can be infected through their skin or when cleaning themselves. Infection causes many symptoms, mostly weakness and malnutrition which can lead to death in puppies. Humans can also become infected with hookworms from unwashed vegetables or by walking barefoot on sand and soil.
One of the most dangerous worms, heartworms are spread through mosquito bites. They can be up to 14 inches long, and commonly live in the heart and arteries. Heartworms can affect how the heart functions and can cause blood clots which are likely to cause death if untreated. Monthly heartworm preventatives are are effective and Splash and Dash recommends to use a monthly heartworm treatment.
Whipworms live in the area where the small and large intestines meet. Similarly to hookworms, whipworms also suck the blood of their hosts. Dogs commonly pick them up from contaminated soil or by grooming. Whipworms can be quite serious and symptoms include bloody diarrhea especially when there are a large number in the intestine.
Dogs most commonly are infected with tapeworms from fleas, which carry them. Tapeworms absorb dog’s nutrients from the intestine where they often attach. Tapeworms are each about the size of a grain of rice. These are commonly passed in stool and can be seen around the dog’s anus. Humans can also get tapeworms, but can’t get them from an infected pet.
Despite its name, ringworm is actually not a worm at all. It is a skin infection caused by a fungus. In dogs, ringworm is often seen as a dry, gray, and scary patch. Although it may cause no symptoms at all, it is still important to take your dog to the vet if you notice anything abnormal. Humans can become infected in ringworm as well, however they usually cause a red lesion with a ring-like appearance (hence the name). Infection comes from spores which are commonly found in the soil or on cats, humans can become infected by touching an infected pet. Treatment for ringworm can involve medicated shampoos and ointments. More commonly, an oral medication will be needed for a couple of months. It is important to take extra measures to clear ringworm from the environment to prevent the spread.
How can I tell if my dog has worms?
Although there is no obvious outward signs of infection when it comes to your dog having worms, normal bowel movements don’t rule out the possibility of a parasite infection. However, when signs are present they can include diarrhea, bloody stool, mucus in the stool, change in appetite, weight loss, and vague signs of abdominal or rectal discomfort.
Other signs are abdominal enlargement, scooting of the hindquarters, and excess licking or irritation around the anus. Some parasites even can cause severe blood loss and even death, especially in young, weak, or old and malnourished pets.
Can I see worms in my dog’s stool?
One way to see if your dog has worms is examining their stool. Adult roundworms and hookworms will appear as small to large, off-white to tan, spaghetti shaped parasites. Human infection can be examined in stool as well.
Tapeworms will often appear in stool or clinging to hair around the genital area. Fresh segments will be white, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, and may expand or contract. Dry segments resemble sesame seeds or rice grains and will be darker in color.
Treatment for Worms
Tapeworms and other variations of worms are not effectively treatable with over-the-counter dewormers, which means a veterinary examination is necessary. All of us at Splash and Dash want the very best for your pet, please don’t take any symptoms lightly.
After the end of a stressful day you come home to your dog wagging their tail and running towards you, that sudden feeling of calmness and relief isn’t just in your head, is it? No, that feeling isn’t just in your imagination, recent research suggests that your fluffy friend truly is good for your physical and mental health.
“Pets often provide unconditional acceptance and love and they’re always there for you,” says Gary A. Christenson, MD, chief medical officer at Boynton Health Service at the University of Minnesota. “There is a bond and companionship that makes a big difference in mental health,”
Not to mention all the extra exercise you get from walks and playtime. Dogs improve out health in many ways, whether it’s though physical or mental health, pets can be very calming and have been scientifically proven to lower stress levels.
“We found that pet owners, on average, were better off than non-owners, especially when they have a higher-quality relationship with their pets,” says pet researcher Allen R. McConnell, PhD. Who is a professor of psychology at Miami University.
A dog can be your heart’s best friend
Recently, a panel of experts from the American Heart Association (AHA) have weighed all the available evidence. The conclusive finding has been that having a pet, a dog in particular, likely lowers the risk of heart disease, but why?
“People who have dogs live longer than people who have cats, and the assumption has been that dogs naturally cause their owners to be more active,” suggests Dr. Thomas Lee, Co-Editor in Chief of the Harvard Heart Letter. “The emotional benefits of having an affectionate creature are also one of the theories for why dog-lovers live longer.”
Much of the evidence reviewed by the AHA Indicates that dog owners are more likely to exercise. They also found that they are more likely to have lower blood pressure, be less vulnerable to the effects of stress, and more likely to survive a heart attack.
Can having a dog help with anxiety and depression?
Dogs can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. However, don’t just take our word for it.
“I finally realized the answer to my decade long question of how to manage anxiety and depression – exercise, laughter and love – all things that were unattainable for me before, were achieved by getting a dog.” Says pet owner Kathryn Oda from the Huffington Post.
The reason that these three things are so key, is they all trigger the release of the chemical serotonin – the feel-good chemical in our brains (also released by working out or exercising). By having increased levels of serotonin every day, symptoms of anxiety and depression can dramatically decrease.
Hey, what about cats?
It’s true, both dogs and cats are positive influences and can have an additive calming effect on their owners when compared to other animals. Doctors aren’t exactly sure why, but researcher think that cats and declining stress may have more to do with the personality of the cat owner than anything else. Cats commonly become the focus of their owner’s attention and interest, which can divert their stressful worries into positive thoughts.
More relationships and connections
One key to a healthy mind is to stay engaged with other people. Pet owners tend to want to talk with other pet owners compared to people who don’t own any pets. Basically having a dog is a conversation waiting to happen, people are more likely to stop and talk with you when they see you walking your dog.
Having a dog even makes you more likely to find a partner believe it or not.
“They see you with a dog and all their defenses go down,” said Dr. Helen Fisher, “They assume you must be a decent human being. How could you have a dog and be a bad person?”
All of us at Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique agree with Dr. Fisher, dog owners are often perceived to be more approachable and happier than people without dogs.
“Having a dog really says something about you,” said Dr. Fisher. “It says you can care for a creature, that you can follow a schedule and get home to feed it, that you can walk it and love it and spend time with it.”
“It’s a signal that a man or woman may not only make a good friend but also a good parent”, Dr. Fisher said.
Is it time to get a dog?
As we stated above, getting a dog can dramatically change the way you’re able to manage anxiety, depression, or simply your overall mental health. However, owning a dog comes with many responsibilities. There are many things to consider before deciding to get a dog.
Remember, thousands of dogs are abandoned at shelters every year, especially in the first year of their lives. This is common phenomenon because people are unaware of how much time, money, and responsibility a dog requires. When it comes to food, Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique offer trusted brands in our stores that we feed to our own dogs at home.
Some important things to consider before deciding to own a dog:
- A dog requires at minimum two hours of your time each day for attention. A puppy requires even more at around four hours each day. If you can give at least two hours consider rescuing/adopting a dog in need of a home, there are thousands of dogs that would love to have you in their lives.
- Keep in mind that there are many different breeds of dogs that all have their unique requirements when it comes to exercise and diet. Different dog breeds also mean different personalities, try to pick a dog that will match well with your personality. We suggest taking this quiz at My Real Personality to find the perfect match for you.
- Although you don’t have to be a millionaire to own a dog, being able to afford everything a dog requires is important. Dogs, especially puppies, can be very expensive. Keep in mind you have to buy all of their accessories, food, treats, toys, and the most expensive: vet bills. The ASPCA estimates that it costs between $580 and $875 per year to take care of a dog’s routine needs.
Don’t forget about your dogs health either! Treat them to a spa style grooming every month if you can, your dog (and furniture) will appreciate it.
The last thing to remember is that owning a dog is not a miracle cure for any type of physical or mental illness. Owning a dog will only be beneficial and conforming for those who love and appreciate animals, and for those who have the time and money to keep a dog happy and healthy. Please consider all of these things before deciding to get a dog.
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