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What Are Roundworms

If you are a dog owner or have had a dog in the past, then chances are you are very familiar with roundworms.  Roundworms look very similar to earthworms.  They are organisms that are most likely to be found in puppies and cause gastric and intestinal disorders in them.  Roundworms can grow up to about a half foot in length.  They are a very common parasite that usually invades your dog’s small intestines as well as his large intestines.

The process of invasion begins with the roundworm feeding on the food in your dog’s stomach and intestines.  Next, the roundworm digs through the organ walls and then goes inside the bloodstream.  From the bloodstream, the roundworm finds its path to the dog’s liver and subsequently to the lungs.  The roundworm eventually goes into the trachea and is expelled into the mouth through coughing.  The roundworm is then sent back to the stomach and intestines through swallowing.

Roundworms that are left undetected are likely to migrate to a growing puppy’s muscles.  Inside the muscles, the roundworms form cysts and vegetate.  If the host becomes pregnant later in her life, her whole litter is also likely to be infected with the worms.  The roundworms will once again start their journey to the puppy’s lungs where they will remain.  On a positive side, dogs do eventually and naturally develop immunity to roundworms after a period of time.  However, it is possible for some dogs to develop the condition again if they come into direct contact with infested food or feces.

There are several symptoms that are associated with roundworms.  The most common symptoms are pain and discomfort, loose stools, loss of shine in coat, and upset stomach.  Puppies with regular roundworm infestation tend to have distended abdomens and may appear to be potbellied.  Respiratory problems will also develop if there is a significant lung involvement.  Puppies often get pneumonia from roundworm migration due to the alveoli becoming damaged.

In treating roundworms, your vet will need a stool specimen in order to check for presence of the worms.  There are several kinds of effective drug treatment that your vet may prescribe to fight these parasites.  The treatment also gives the dog protection against roundworm infestation.  Your vet may also recommend that your dog’s stool will again be examined for worms at different stages of the treatment.

In order to prevent roundworm infestation, make sure that the female dog is thoroughly checked and treated before you breed her.  To make sure that all worms are detected early, every dog should have stool specimens checked twice per year.  Also, keep your dog out of the trash where roundworms could be waiting.  Giving your dog a proper and filling diet will decrease the chance of him going through your trash.

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