You share so many things with your dog, but you don’t want to share roundworms with him. The spaghetti-like worms grow in your body after you accidentally eat tiny roundworm eggs. In severe cases, a roundworm infection can cause vision problems or swelling in the spinal cord, organs or brain. Several preventive measures can help you keep your family safe.
Dogs who have an active roundworm infection pass the eggs in their feces, but it takes a few weeks for the eggs to become infective. Promptly picking up and disposing of feces can reduce your chance of getting the worms if your dog is infected. Your dog won’t necessarily show obvious symptoms at the beginning of an infection, so it’s important to make daily removal of dog waste from your yard a priority. Don’t forget to pick up the feces when you go for a walk, too, or make a visit to the local dog park.
Although it can take several weeks for eggs to become infective, they remain that way for months or years. If you weren’t always vigilant about promptly removing feces from your yard, it’s possible that infective eggs are present in the soil in areas in which feces were deposited. The eggs are so small that you won’t be able to see them, but if you touch the ground, accidentally pick up an egg and then touch your mouth, you can swallow the egg. If you train your dog to use one particular part of your yard for elimination, you can reduce your family’s exposure to roundworm eggs. Make sure children and visitors to your home know the area is off-limits.
Soap and water are the best weapons to prevent a roundworm infestation. If you do any gardening or dig in the soil in your yard, wear gloves and wash your hands when you're finished. Even if you train your dog to eliminate in one part of your yard, you can still pick up eggs in another part if a rodent or wandering cat or dog pooped in the soil. Make hand-washing a part of your routine after you pick up feces or touch your dog. Remind children to wash their hands after they return indoors and after playing with your dog.
It’s not unusual for a roundworm infection to spread from a mother to her puppies. That’s why it’s important to take your new puppy to the veterinarian when he’s young for deworming treatment. The veterinarian will suggest a regular deworming medication schedule to help you ensure that your pet, and your family, never have to suffer from roundworms. Some heartworm and flea preventative medications also have an added benefit of killing roundworms, and your pet’s veterinarian might recommend these medications as an option.
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