We all know the signs of compromised health in our rabbit dogs. Whether it is a dull coat, bloated belly, listlessness, lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, or the like, one of the reasons behind these changes are worms. Since rabbit dogs spend a lot of time in the field and are exposed to all kinds of variables, these are important signs for which we as owners must watch in order to treat problems as they arise, keeping dogs happy and healthy.
There are many types of worms that affect the canine population as a whole. Some depend on environment and others on exposure to certain types of intermediate host. Whatever the case may be, the bottom line is that transmission to rabbit dogs is possible and veterinary intervention becomes necessary. Here are 10 worms with which rabbit dogs may become infected:
Tapeworms live in the intestinal lining and can grow to several feet in length, causing intestinal blockage upon growing large enough. These are acquired when a dog consumes an infected flea. Symptoms include vomiting, appetite loss, anal irritation, and the presence of worms in stool. Treatment includes appropriate de-wormer and topical flea repellents can be applied to prevent recurrence.
Stomach worms take up residency in the stomach after an infected animal is consumed. The animals known to transmit stomach worms are those that feed on feces, such as beetles. A main symptom is vomit in which worms may be present. Treatment is via insecticide administered by your vet.
Ringworm sounds like a worm but is actually a fungus. It is passed from mother to young at birth or comes about when roundworm eggs are swallowed. Symptoms include respiratory distress, weight loss, lack of appetite, pot belly, and more. Dogs and environment must be treated to eradicate the problem. Anti-fungal shampoo and topical treatments from the vet are used on dogs and bleach should be used to clean the environment.
Roundworms are found in the intestines of dogs and can grow to up to five inches in length, in some cases blocking the intestinal tract. These worms leech nutrients from dogs and cause diarrhea, vomiting, dull coat, weight loss, respiratory distress, swollen abdomen, and more. Typically these are passed from mother to pup at birth but they can also become a problem if eggs are swallowed. Treatment includes disinfecting with bleach and administering appropriate de-wormer to dogs as advised by your vet.
Pinworms AKA Threadworms are small worms that live in the intestines. They are spread through contact with feces but actual ingestion is not required. They are able to enter through skin before migrating to other areas of the body such as the circulatory, digestive, and respiratory systems. Symptoms include respiratory distress, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, and more. Treatment is via prescription meds from the vet.
Whipworms live in the colon of dogs and are spread via ingestion. Once passed outside of the dog, the eggs mature and go on to infect other hosts. Symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, and bloody diarrhea. In order to eliminate these, a multi-step de-worming process must be followed as whipworms are able to survive in the environment. If these are a persistent problem in your area, preventative de-worming may be necessary.
Hookworms are a thin worm that make their home in the small intestine. These can be spread from parent to pup or from skin to skin contact with an infected animal as well as being transmitted via eggs in stool. There are often no symptoms at all but bloody diarrhea may appear as well as weight loss and lethargy. Killing worms is done with repeat treatments as the treatment is only effective against adults, thus the de-worming process needs to be repeated as worms mature.
Liver Flukes are flat worms that are present in the bile ducts and gall bladder where they feed on blood before laying eggs in the intestine. They are transmitted from animal to animal such as via consuming a slug or snail. Symptoms are based on severity and you may not see any or you may notice fever, weight loss, lethargy, jaundice, and more. Anti-biotics, anti-inflammatories, and Vitamin D are administered by vets to eradicate liver flukes.
Lungworms are present in the lungs of dogs and come about via eggs laid in airways. These are transmitted to dogs typically when they consume an infected animal such as a snail or slug. Symptoms include shortness of breath and coughing. Vets administer de-wormer to treat this but testing must be conducted beforehand to ensure proper diagnosis.
Heartworms are known to reside in the arteries of the heart and eventually move into the lungs. These are spread via bite from an infected mosquito and can be fatal if untreated. Symptoms include lethargy, weight loss, persistent cough, and fatigue. Treatment is administered via vet and includes arsenic. Dogs must be rested for a lengthy amount of time after treatment while worms die off as exertion at this stage can be fatal. Monthly heartworm preventatives are strongly advised in climates where mosquitos are present.
In order to keep rabbit dogs from being sidelined with any of the worm problems listed above, be sure to keep their environment as clean as possible and get vet checkups on schedule. Though nature makes possible the spread of worms, sometimes it is difficult to fully prevent such problems from occurring. This is where vigilance comes into play; you know what is normal for your rabbit dogs and anything that is abnormal should be addressed as soon as possible in order to maintain continued good health. Keep in mind, however, that only a vet can truly diagnose and treat worms, so be sure to seek advice as opposed to winging it with rumored remedies.
Have you ever had a worm problem? What kind and how was it treated? Tell us about it in the comments.