Our dogs are more than our pets; they’re our family members. Our best friends. Our babies. When their bodies are invaded by a parasite, we will do everything in our power to stop it. 

Unfortunately, there is a type of parasite that invades all too often in dogs, especially puppies. They’re called roundworms.

What are roundworms?

Roundworms are a type of contagious parasitic worm that lives in the intestines and feeds on partially digested food. They’re called roundworms because of their round, tubular shape. They’re white and typically several inches long. Basically, you’ll never look at spaghetti the same way again.

There are two types of roundworms that can infect dogs – Toxocara Canis and Toxascaris Leonina, which can also infect cats. Toxocara Canis can cause more serious health conditions, and it can also be spread to humans.

How common are roundworms in dogs?

Roundworms are extremely common in dogs. In fact, almost all dogs get roundworms at least once in their lives, most commonly when puppies.

How do dogs get worms?

Infected dogs shed roundworm eggs in their fecal matter, which becomes infectious after about 30 days. It lives in the soil, often surviving harsh conditions, for long periods of time and can spread to other living things like plants, insects, and rodents. When a dog eats or licks a contaminated specimen, they ingest the eggs, which hatch in their intestines.

Some worms become encysted and lie dormant in the body. Sadly, this dormant larvae becomes active in females when they get pregnant. It’s passed on to puppies while in the mother’s body or through her milk. 

Life Cycle of Roundworm Infection in a Dog

  • Eggs are deposited in soil via fecal matter.
  • Eggs in the soil contaminate plants, insects, and rodents.
  • Eggs get ingested by the dog.
  • Eggs hatch inside the dog’s intestines and travel to other tissues.
  • Dormant eggs are passed from mother to puppy.

What are symptoms of roundworms in dogs and puppies?

Early infections often show no symptoms. For advanced cases, symptoms include bloated bellies, low energy, weight loss, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and worms in their vomit or feces. Roundworms can also stunt puppies’ growth as they are taking important nutrients. If left untreated, roundworm infections can be fatal for the dog.

Can humans get roundworms from dogs?

Yes, and it can cause serious diseases. However, it is not common. The biggest threat is to small children who may accidentally ingest the eggs while playing outside.

How do I treat my dog for roundworms? 

If you suspect your puppy has roundworms, first make an appointment with your veterinarian. If they confirm that your dog has roundworms, it’s important to follow their recommendations, which will include administering a deworming medication.

There are many safe and effective over-the-counter deworming treatments. For puppies over 6 weeks of age, Dogswell® Remedy & Recovery® Pet Wormer is a great solution. It not only works, it’s easy to give, too. Simply spoon feed or incorporate it into your dog’s food. 

It’s important to keep your dog isolated from other pets and children in your home for a few days. Your veterinarian may suggest deworming other pets in the home as well to contain the spread. Be sure to pick up all their fecal matter immediately. Clean your home, including dog beds and any linens that your dog has come into contact with. If you have cats, clean their litter boxes as well. 

Many veterinarians routinely administer dewormer to puppies when they’re as young as 2-3 weeks old, even if they show no signs of infection. They also provide regular fecal exams throughout the puppy’s first year, in addition to vaccinations and boosters to protect puppies from dangerous diseases. Scheduling a vet visit should be one of the first things you do when bringing a new puppy home!

How do I prevent roundworms in my dog?

There are three very important steps you can take to prevent your dog – and other dogs and humans – from being infected with roundworms:

  1. Give your dog monthly heartworm medication that also includes roundworm preventive. 
  2. Pick up your dog’s waste. 
  3. Take your dog to their regularly scheduled veterinarian visits. 

Bringing home a puppy is an exciting, special time. Unfortunately, roundworms are a reality for dog parents, especially new ones. Dogswell is here to help, with functional products that deliver real solutions, whether it’s for whole dog health or specific conditions…even the not-so-pleasant ones.

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