Roundworms are the most common of the parasitic worms found inside a dog. Almost all dogs become infected with them at some time in their lives, usually as puppies. Roundworms may be contracted in different ways, making them easy to spread and hard to control.
How will roundworms affect my dog?
Adult roundworms live in the affected dog's intestines. Many dogs do not have signs of infection; however, dogs with major roundworm infections, especially puppies, show diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, dull hair, and a potbellied appearance. The dog may cough if the roundworms move into the lungs.
You may notice the adult roundworms in your dog's feces or vomit. They will appear white or light brown in color and may be several inches long.
How do I prevent my dog from getting roundworms?
Because roundworms can enter your dog's body in many different ways, it is essential to keep your dog's living area clean, remove feces regularly, and, if possible, prevent your dog from eating wild animals that may carry roundworms.
Can humans be harmed by roundworms?
Roundworms do pose a significant risk to humans. Contact with contaminated soil or dog feces can result in human ingestion and infection. Roundworm eggs may accumulate in significant numbers in the soil where pets deposit feces. Once infected, the worms can cause eye, lung, heart and neurologic signs in people.
Children should not be allowed to play where animals have passed feces. Individuals who have direct contact with soil that may have been contaminated by cat or dog feces should wear gloves or wash their hands immediately.
Mary O' Grady, DVM
Blake Townsend, DVM