Almost every dog suffers from worms because dogs are kept in kennels and run in yards which lack cleanliness.
Worms cause a great deal of harm, particularly in puppies and young dogs. Nor is it generally known that fleas are the most fruitful source of infection of tapeworm in dogs.
Most people make no attempt whatever to keep their dogs free of fleas. It is a fact that puppies whose mothers harbor fleas, are themselves infected with tapeworms within a few days of birth.
Pregnant bitches certainly can and frequently do infect pups before birth, the worm larvae reaching the lungs, and liver of the pups.
These facts are given to show that treating dogs for worms by giving worm medicines is only touching on the fringe of the problem.
In many instances, it requires the services of a trained veterinarian to diagnose the particular parasite from which a dog is suffering.
In this connection a special reference is made to such parasites as hookworms and also to a variety of worms which, in certain areas, attack the dog’s heart.
In the latter case, the only certain means of diagnosis is an examination of the dog’s blood to demonstrate the causal organism. This, of course, requires the employment of the microscope and technical knowledge in its use.
Hookworms and Heartworms
Both hookworms and heartworms are deadly in their effect on dogs, and a few particulars are given to enable readers to understand the condition caused, and also to enable them to take steps to prevent losses.
In the case of heartworm, known as the Dirofilaria immitis, the life history of the parasite is of great interest. It occurs in the heart of the dog, and occasionally cats are affected.
The embryos are hatched in the body of the female and the young larvae passed into the bloodstream are sucked up by a mosquito, in which they develop.
After a certain period, they escape from the mosquito when it attacks another dog and, entering the blood, are carried to the dog’s heart where they complete their development.
These worms interfere to a greater or less extent with the circulation of the blood. No symptoms may be shown, or the dog may die suddenly.
Likely symptoms are respiratory troubles, dropsy, and so on. Various complications, such as cough or labored breathing, maybe due to the blocking of certain of the clog’s blood vessels.
Diagnosis is by demonstrating the microfilaria in the blood.
It is probably only a question of time before a cure for heartworm will be perfected, but at the present time no form of treatment can be suggested.
A disease that is transmitted by a mosquito presents a great number of difficulties when prevention is aimed at.
Let us now consider the case of the hookworm, a parasite which is far more prevalent than is generally supposed.
Hookworm’s Life History
These are smallish worms, about three-quarters of an inch long; found in the small intestine.
The life history of the hookworm is as follows. The eggs are passed in the feces and hatch in the soil or water. After, several months the resulting larvae become infective.
These larvae can gain access to the dog either in the food or by penetrating the dog’s unbroken skin.
It enters the bloodstream and is carried to the lungs. It then passes up the trachea (windpipe) and is swallowed. It completes its development in the small intestines.
Symptoms and Treatment
Hookworms are especially common in greyhounds, cattle dogs, and sporting dogs generally.
The symptoms shown when dogs are attacked are wasting, anemia, and great weakness. There are generally digestive disturbances with great irregularities of the bowels.
Dogs, apparently in fair health, are often noticed passing large quantities of blood and mucus with their excrement. When this is repeated periodically, in spite of treatment, and the dog gets poor, the cause is hookworm.
Affected dogs appear very sick with staring eyes, dull, coat, and foul breath, and can not be roused from a general state of depression.
A post-mortem examination of a dead dog will reveal the worms, and diagnosis is best made by the discovery of the worm eggs in the feces, by examination with the microscope.
Treatment consists of giving suitable doses of carbon tetrachloride, which is an excellent remedy.
This drug, however, is very unsafe except in experienced hands and is best administered under the direction of a veterinary surgeon.
The dose for a dog is one cubic centimeter for every 10 pounds of the dog’s body weight. It should be followed by a dose of Epsom salts.
In breeding kennels, hookworms are greatly to be feared and prevention is of the utmost importance.
As previously explained, the larvae may reach the intestines either through the mouth or by burrowing through the skin. It is, therefore, necessary to keep kennels dry and clean, and all feces should be removed and destroyed.
Several correspondents have written at various times asking for information on wasting disease in dogs. There is always a possibility that hookworm may be the cause.
To make certain, consult a good veterinarian who can, if necessary, treat the case.