Your dog may be infected with adult roundworms from the time he is born because often the mother passes the worms to the puppy while it is still in her body. Roundworms can also develop in a puppy after it is born when the puppy eats larvated eggs from the environment or drinks worm larvae in the mother's milk.
Intestinal parasites are one of the most common problems veterinarians see in dogs. Although pets of any age can carry them, they are a health a problem primarily in young dogs, dogs whose life style increases their risk of exposure, dogs living in sub-standard conditions and dogs with other health issues.
How Will I Know If My Dog Has Worms?
1. The Silent Nature of Parasites
Many common intestinal parasites have adapted so well to their hosts (your dog), that they are living in balance and cause no visible health issues. But that can always change. It is when the parasites become too numerous that your pet’s health is affected. Because of their silent stealthy nature, the best approach is to try to keep your dog completely free of them before the balance becomes disturbed.
2. Poor Growth and Lack of Energy in Puppies
The most common early signs of intestinal parasites in puppies are poor growth, dull hair coat, scrawniness, lack of playful energy and diarrhea. Many of these puppies have bony bodies but potbellied, big tummies. Many are anemic.
3. Brittle Hair Coat
The most common signs in older pets are brittle hair coat, boniness, listlessness and diarrhea. Some of these older pets become picky eaters, in some, the opposite occurs - they are ravenous and some show no changes in appetite at all. In adult dogs with parasite problems, multiple health issues are common.
Poor sanitation that leads to parasite overload also increases their risk of exposure to other diseases and because their parasite burden lessens their resistance to other diseases.
What Can I Do to Prevent Parasites in My Dog?
Remove feces from your yard at least once a week. It also important you watch where your dog goes in the neighborhood dog park; these are often infested with intestinal worm larvae. Do not let your dog range free unsupervised. Keep it leashed to keep it from poking its face in the stools of other dogs.
Do not bring additional pets of unknown parasite status into your household until they have been wormed several times and their fecal status is negative. Keep your pet on a monthly flea/tick/heartworm control product designed to also control intestinal parasites and have your dog's feces checked frequently in persistent cases.