What are roundworms?
Roundworms are intestinal parasites. The adult worms live in the small intestine and are white and spaghetti-like in appearance, ranging from 5 to 15 cm in length.
Canine roundworms (Toxocara canis)
What causes roundworms in dogs?
There are two important species of roundworms in Australia that can infest dogs:
- Toxocara canis – dogs only
- Toxascaris leonina – dogs and cat
Roundworm life cycle in dogs
To explain the roundworm life cycle, let’s begin with adult roundworms living in the small intestine of an infected dog. Male and female roundworms mate and the females then produce up to 200,000 eggs per day which are passed in the faeces. Roundworm eggs passed in the faeces are not immediately infectious, however they can develop to the infectious stage in as little as 2 to 3 weeks under the right environmental conditions and may remain infectious for several years.
Dogs can become infested with roundworm through ingestion of infective eggs from a contaminated environment (e.g. a dog park) or through eating an infested host animal such as a rodent.
Roundworms in puppies
Puppies can get roundworms from their mother prior to birth in the womb (the worm larvae can cross the placenta) or soon after birth via the milk. They can also be infested by ingesting eggs from the environment or by consuming rodents or birds.
Roundworm symptoms in dogs
Signs of roundworms in dogs may include:
- Diarrhoea and/or vomiting
- Failure to gain weight
- Poor coat condition
- Pot-bellied appearance
Sometimes there are no roundworm symptoms in dogs. In these cases, the only way to diagnose a worm infestation is for a vet to conduct a faecal examination to look for worm eggs.
Roundworms in dog stool
Roundworms may sometimes be seen in the stool of an infested dog, especially after a deworming treatment is given. They are long, white worms with a spaghetti-like appearance.
Roundworm treatment for dogs
The NexGard® for Dogs Range includes highly effective options for the treatment of roundworm in dogs:
- NexGard SPECTRA® for Dogs: a tasty chew that treats and controls roundworms, whipworms and hookworms. It also provides protection against fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and flea tapeworm, all in one tasty chew.
- HEARTGARD30® PLUS: A highly palatable real beef chew that treats and controls roundworm and hookworm. It also prevents heartworm disease.
- ParaGard® Allwormer for Dogs: A liver flavoured worming tablet effective against a range of intestinal worms, including roundworms.
When choosing roundworm medicine for dogs, make sure to select a product appropriate for the age and weight of your pet. Consult with your vet if you have any questions about how to treat roundworm in dogs.
Protecting dogs against roundworm is essential to protect not only your dog’s health, but also the health of you and your family. If roundworm eggs are accidentally ingested by a human, the parasite can migrate to internal organs, affecting muscles, eyes and the brain. Young children are considered most at risk as they are more likely to play in contaminated areas and place things in their mouths.
Monthly deworming of dogs is recommended to reduce environmental contamination with roundworm eggs and minimise the risk of transmission to people. Puppies should be dewormed every 2 weeks until at least 8 weeks of age (at least 2 weeks after weaning).
Giving your dog NexGard SPECTRA for Dogs monthly provides the most complete protection against fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and intestinal worms, all in one tasty chew.
Other ways to reduce the risk of human exposure to roundworms include:
- Dispose of dog faeces promptly, on a daily basis at a minimum
- Keep dogs out of playgrounds and cover sandpits when not in use
- Follow good hygiene practices, by washing hands after handling dogs and before eating
- Prevent children from ingesting soil and other materials that may be contaminated with dog faeces
Can you get roundworms from your dog licking you?
No, this is very unlikely. Humans become infected with roundworm through accidental ingestion of roundworm eggs from a contaminated environment (e.g. sandpits, parks, playgrounds). It takes at least 2-3 weeks for the eggs to become infectious after being passed in the faeces of an infected dog.
How do you get rid of roundworms in dogs?
Roundworms are usually easy to treat. NexGard SPECTRA for Dogs, HeartGard30 PLUS and ParaGard Allwormer for Dogs are highly effective options to treat roundworm. If you have any questions about treating roundworm it’s best to speak to your vet.
How long does it take to get rid of roundworms in dogs?
Roundworms should be killed within a day or so of giving an effective deworming treatment, but dogs can become reinfested and so the best way to control roundworms is to deworm your dog monthly. It’s best to consult your vet to discuss the best treatment options.
How likely are you to get roundworms from a dog?
If roundworm eggs are accidentally ingested by a person, the parasite can migrate to internal organs, affecting muscles, eyes and the brain. Young children are considered most at risk as they are more likely to play in contaminated areas and place things in their mouths. Thankfully, cases of severe disease in humans are rare in Australia, but monthly deworming of dogs is recommended to reduce the risk of human exposure to roundworm eggs.
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