Ascariasis in Dogs
Ascariasis is a disease affecting dogs caused by the intestinal parasitic roundworm (or Ascaris lumbricoides). Roundworms are often quite large -- up to 10 to 12 centimeters in length -- and can be present in extremely high numbers within an infected animal. When they are found in a dog's body, it can lead to abdominal swelling (distension), colic, gastrointestinal issues and even intestinal rupture.
The condition or disease can affect both dogs and cats. It may also infect humans and other animals.
The following signs or symptoms are common in dogs that have roundworms:
- Abdominal swelling
- Abnormal feces
- Poor nursing (in females)
- Coughing (caused when the roundworm larvae have migrated into the dog's lungs)
Causes of Roundworms in Dogs
Adult dogs can become infected through the ingestion of roundworm eggs, which are found in infected food, water, vomit, or feces. Pups can then contract the parasite during the pregnancy or by drinking the milk from an infected pregnant animal. And if one of the newborns in a litter is exposed to roundworms, the entire litter can contract the parasite.
Diagnosis of Roundworms in Dogs
Upon examination of the dog, a swollen abdominal region is commonly detected. There may also be signs of weakness and loss of appetite. A fecal swab will then be taken to detect the presence of roundworm eggs. Dead roundworms being passed out of the animal's body is another good indicator of the disease.
Treatment of Roundworms in Dogs
Treatment for roundworms is completed on an outpatient basis using specific drugs to kill the roundworms and the roundworm larvae. In severe cases, surgery may be performed to remove more of the roundworm matter.
Living and Management
It is very important to take the animal in for a repeat fecal examination to ensure that all of the roundworms, including the larvae, were eliminated from the dog's body.
Prevention of Roundworms in Dogs
There are no known preventative measures for roundworms. The best, and most important, thing for the pet owner to do is to constantly check the feces after the animal relieves itself and to keep the pet away from the feces of other animals.