Dog worming, myths and facts

I recently had a conversation with a client who informed me that they didn’t need to worm their dog as it was on a raw food diet that would naturally protect it from gut parasites.  It’s not the worst advice about worming I’ve ever heard but it is patently wrong. The worst advice probably goes to the breeder who told the new pet owner that the best way to prevent worms was to simply avoid ever changing the water in the dog bowl and allow it instead to develop a green hue. As it turned out the dog owner felt that the strategy wasn’t working as the puppy was passing both a large quantity of visible worms and some rather profuse diarrhea. Clean water and a worming tablet sorted both problems. 

A 2018 study in the Netherlands looking at commercially available raw food diets for dogs found high levels of potentially harmful bacteria and two types of parasites; Sarcocystis and Toxoplasma. Whilst dogs can often tolerate many of the bacteria in raw meat, two bits of advice I always give to dog owners who feed raw food is to take particular care when handling the raw food, as any bacteria in the food is more likely to be harmful to us than our dogs and to make sure that they worm their pets regularly.  

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Dogs and cats can pick up a variety of gut worms. Hookworms, whipworms, roundworms and tapeworms are the most common varieties of gut parasites. Worms can be passed directly to puppies whilst in the womb or through milk/lactation and puppies and kittens are particularly sensitive to the effects of worm burdens, which is why regular worming is so important in juveniles. Adult dogs and cats can pick up worms through ingestion of contaminated soil, grooming eggs off their fur, eating infected rodents and from fleas. Fleas are one of the main routes of transmission of tapeworms, which is why flea control is also important in preventing worm burdens.  

Several types of these worms are also transmissible to humans, Toxocara canis being responsible for causing eye damage in children. The bottom line is that regular flea and worm control is easy, safe and prevents health issues in both our pets and us. If you are unsure about how often or what type of worming your pet needs, speak to us for advice.