Roundworms in Dogs (Toxacara Canis)

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Overview of Roundworms in Dogs

Toxacara Canis is a nematode parasite more commonly known as “roundworm” in dogs. It is found in almost every puppy at birth and affects mostly puppies and young dogs. It causes a “pot belly” appearance and can you can see adult worms shed in the feces that are long and slender most often described by clients as looking like spaghetti.

Toxacara Canis only affects dogs and other canids such as wolves and coyotes.

It is transferred through the contact and ingestion of contaminated feces, eating and infected host animal, and through the mammary glands of nursing animals. Most puppies are born with roundworm infections. Most pet stories and breeders will deworm puppies starting at 6 weeks and often every 2 weeks for 3 to 4 treatments.

Transmission to humans is possible through accidently touching infected feces and then touching the mouth or face or eating without washing hands. According to the CDC this is most important in children who play in or eat dirt, where roundworms can migrate to the eye and cause blindness and damage the retina. Encourage proper hand washing techniques in all individuals in contact with infected pets.

What to Look For in Your Dog

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Pot Bellied Appearance
  • Weight loss or unable to gain weight
  • Constipation
  • In sever infections obstruction can occur
  • Veterinary Care for Roundworms in Dogs

    Care from your personal veterinarian should be sought out for diagnostic testing and treatment.

    Diagnosis of Canine Roundworms

    Roundworms are diagnosed by bringing a fecal sample into your veterinarian and having them perform a zinc sulfate fecal float. Many times pet owners can see the worms in their pet’s stool (see photo).

    Treatment of Canine Roundworms 

    There are many treatments including one or more of the following medications. Some medications may be chosen based on concurrent parasite infections.

    Common medications may include:

  • Pyrantel (Strongid) – commonly given once and repeated in 2 weeks.
  • Fenbendazole (Panacur)
  • Drontal Plus
  • Heartguard (Iverhart)
  • Sentinel
  • Trifexis
  • Nemex
  • Home Care for Roundworms in Dogs

    There are several things you can do to keep your dog protected from roundworms. These include: 

  • Administer as directed all medications prescribed by your veterinarian. All of the prescribed medication should be given to insure elimination of the infection. Treat all infected pets in the household. 
  • Decontamination of the environment is an important part of preventing infection. Keeping feces cleaned up from the yard on a regular basis is important especially if you have an infected animal. In situations in which animals are under close confinement (e.g. kennels, animal shelters, pet stores), proper sanitation is crucial to prevent cross-contamination from one animal to another. All fecal material must be removed from cages, runs and yards. Kennels must be cleaned with appropriate disinfectants and totally dried before allowing pet’s access to them. Effective disinfectants most commonly used are bleach and chlorhexadine solutions.
  • Give all doses of dewormer to ensure that you kill all of the worms living in the intestinal tract.
  • Bathing animals is important to remove any infected feces including the eggs and larvae from the hair coat.
  • Give any prescribed flea and heartworm prevention medications that may also treat roundworm infections.
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