Worming your dog

There are many parasitic worms that can infect dogs, most affecting the digestive tract, but some can cause serious damage to other organs including the lungs.

Roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm and whipworm live in your dog's intestine and may cause weight loss, sickness, diarrhoea, and a "pot-bellied" appearance.

The dog lungworm, Angiostrongylus vasorum, has recently spread to most parts of the UK, including Ayrshire, and can be fatal if not treated. It causes breathlessness or coughing, and can affect blood clotting, causing excessive bleeding.

> Download our information sheet about lungworm in dogs

> Download our information sheet on safe slug and snail control

> Read our news page article about lungworm

How often to treat for worms?

For puppies we recommend treating for roundworms every 2 weeks until 12 weeks old.

For pups over 12 weeks old and all adult dogs we recommend treating for intestinal worms every 3 months. 

All pups and dogs which have contact with slugs and snails outdoors should be treated monthly to prevent lungworm.

How does my dog become infected with worms?

Puppies can be infected with roundworm in the womb before they are born, and through their mother's milk unless she has been wormed during the pregnancy.

Worm eggs of many types can be passed in dog faeces and survive on the ground, before being swallowed by another dog to complete the worm life cycle.

Tapeworms require an intermediate host to complete their life cycle. This may be a small mammal such as a mouse, vole or rabbit; a large mammal such as a sheep or deer; or fleas. Dogs become infected when they swallow infected meat or fleas. 

Lungworm also requires an intermediate host, in this case slugs and snails. Dogs may be at risk if they swallow the slug or snail, or even if they lick slime trails.

> Read our information sheet on safe slug and snail control

Find more information about lungworm at www.lungworm.co.uk

Can worms be passed on to my family?

Although it is unlikely that you or your family will catch worms from your pet, it is possible for people to be infected by roundworms, or Toxocara. Roundworm eggs are passed in dog faeces and can persist in soil or sand, sometimes for years. Small children are most at risk from infection, which occurs when eggs are accidentally swallowed. The eggs then hatch into larvae which can move through body tissues causing damage, notably to the eyes. 

To prevent human infection it's important to:

  • Worm your dog regularly.
  • Scoop your dog's poop - if done immediately there should be minimal risk, as it takes a few weeks for roundworm eggs to become infective.
  • Do not allow dogs to toilet in areas where children play (especially parks and sandpits).
  • Ensure that all family members wash their hands thoroughly with soap and running water after playing in parks, gardens, sandpits or on the beach, and especially before eating. Rub-on hand sanitisers won't kill roundworm eggs so do not rely on these.
  • Teach young children not to put dirty hands to their mouths or faces

Which wormer? 

There is a huge choice when it comes to worming products, however many do not treat all of the different types of worms. We recommend you choose a broad spectrum worming product that also acts against lungworm, supplied by us, so you can be assured that it will be effective. We can offer a choice of tablet, liquid, granule or spot-on products. Giving the right dose is very important, so we are happy to weigh your puppy or dog free of charge at any of our surgeries. If you are unsure, you are welcome to arrange a free nurse consultation to review your dog's parasite control needs, or call or email your query to us. 

What else can I do to control worms?

In addition to regular worming, please remember the following advice:

  • Scoop the poop! Please use the appropriate bins when available, otherwise take 'doggy bags' home for proper disposal
  • Prevent your dog from eating it's own faeces, or those of other dogs
  • Don't feed your dog raw meat or allow them to scavenge carrion
  • Use flea control
  • Don't leave dog toys and food bowls outside, especially overnight, for slugs and snails to crawl over. 
  • Do not allow your dog to toilet in children's play areas or on farm grazing land