Herbal Options For Your Fur Kid's Worms
It is an unfortunate reality of life, worms can invade your fur kid’s body when they smell, drink, lick, and ingest dirt, rotten meat, trash and even poop. If your fur kids play around in the backyard or walks around where other dogs can defecate, you might not even notice how they pick up unseen worm eggs or larvae. Dogs can also pass worms to other dogs, and even humans, simply through normal socialization.
There are 5 main (or common) types of worms that can contaminate your fur kids. They live in different organs, such as the intestines, heart, lungs and blood vessels. For a discussion on Spirocerca Lupi, please read our article on this topic here.
Some worms cause more obvious symptoms than others … but here are a few clues your dog may give you that could mean he or she has worms:
- Intermittent or frequent diarrhoea or vomiting can be signs your dog has worms.
- Your dog may have a fever.
- He or she may scoot and lick his rear (though scooting can mean other things too).
- Your fur kid may be off his food or be a little lethargic; his or her coat may look dull.
- You might see stools that are coated in mucus (but otherwise look normal).
- Or you might see squiggly worms or “rice bodies” in his stool.
But some worms can’t be seen with the naked eye, so if your dog’s showing some of these signs, you might want to get a faecal sample analysed by your vet.
Although there are many commercial deworming medications available, natural remedies are often safer and cheaper. They have also been found to be effective in deworming puppies. Although healthy fur kids can tolerate mild infections, a more serious infestation can rob them of vital nutrients and adversely affect their health.
If you have concerns about whether your fur kids have worms, it’s best to confirm that your dog’s ailment is due to a worm infection as the symptoms are like those of other illnesses. You should, therefore, have your dog’s faeces pathologically tested every 3 to 6 months before treating him or her. If the ailment is a worm infection and is severe, you should consult your vet and use a conventional dewormer as prescribed. But be aware, conventional dewormers use chemical-based pesticides that contain toxins and carcinogens. By using natural, herbal, homeopathic dewormers you can reduce your dog's and cat's toxic load, exposure to carcinogens and support their overall health. In some cases of extreme parasite infestation use of pesticide-based treatment may be required - but as soon as the treatment is completed, you can follow a natural herbal protocol to prevent re-infestation and re-use of pesticide-based wormers. This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some examples of the adverse drug events reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [ref] for the most common active ingredients in de-worming drugs.
The starting point for preventing and treating worms is always a healthy immune system. A balanced intestinal environment prevents disease, including parasite infestations. Recent research has linked gut bacteria to many health conditions and the type and balance of bacteria in the gut can actually influence the lifespan of intestinal worms. Avoiding antibiotics and processed commercial foods – and adding dietary probiotics like Lactobacillus sporogenes – will help maintain the delicate ecosystem in your dog’s gut, making it less habitable for worms.
Types of Worms
The most common types of intestinal worms are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms.
Roundworms [ref] (Toxocara canis) live and reproduce in the small intestine. Adult roundworms are one to seven inches long and look like spaghetti. Roundworms have microscopic eggs so your dog can pick them up in his environment, or by eating infected animals like birds or rodents. For most adult dogs roundworms are low risk and don’t cause health problems.
But if you have a pregnant female with roundworms, she can transmit them to her puppies during pregnancy; in puppies roundworms can be more serious, causing diarrhoea and vomiting, and may result in malnutrition and impaired growth.
If your dog has roundworm, he may look pot bellied, and may be lethargic or weak. He may also have diarrhoea or vomiting, show signs of abdominal pain, and a dull coat. Weight loss can mean a more significant infection.
Hookworms [ref] (Ancylostoma caninum) also live mainly in the small intestine. They’re grey and between ½ and ¾ inch long. The front end of the worm has a hook that attaches to the intestinal lining, where it feeds on your dog’s blood. Your dog can pick up hookworm larvae from the soil, through his mouth or through the skin on his pads. Most adult dogs develop some immunity to hookworms, but if your dog is immune compromised he can be more susceptible to infection.
- Diarrhoea and vomiting are the usual symptoms of hookworm.
- Nursing females can transmit hookworm larvae to newborn puppies through milk, which can cause chronic diarrhoea (often with blood or mucus) and anaemia
- Signs of anaemia include weakness, depression, lethargy and pale mucous membranes (like the gums).
Whipworms [ref] (Trichuris vulpis) attach to the mucous membranes (mucosa) lining the caecum and colon (both part of the large intestine), where they feed on your dog’s blood. Adult whipworms are two to three inches long, tapered at one end, like a whip – hence the name. Your dog can get whipworms from swallowing whipworm eggs in soil or water that contain dog faeces.
- Signs of whipworms are diarrhoea, vomiting and weight loss.
Whipworms eggs survive in the environment for a long time so reinfection after treatment is quite common
Tapeworms [ref] (Dipylidium caninum) are long, flat worms that attach to the intestines. If your dog has tapeworms you might see worm segments that look like grains of rice in his poop. There are about 14 difference species of tapeworm. Fleas carry tapeworm eggs so if your dog has fleas, he could get tapeworm. Tapeworm segments themselves aren’t infectious, but your dog can get tapeworms by eating intermediate hosts like fleas and lice, as well as rodents, rabbits or large animals such as sheep, goats, cattle, pigs or deer. (If you’re a PMR raw feeder, freezing meats for 10 days before feeding will eliminate tapeworms.)
If your dog has tapeworms he may not show any signs of illness, but over time his coat may start to look dull and he may lose his appetite or lose a little weight.
Giardia [ref] (Giardia lamblia) lives in the intestine and is a protozoan (a microscopic single celled parasite) with a hair-like tail. Your dog can pick up giardia by drinking water contaminated with giardia from the faeces of infected animals or humans. Many dogs don’t get any symptoms from giardia, but others may develop chronic, intermittent diarrhoea. The signs are usually more severe in puppies.
Coccidia [ref] (Coccidiosis) are also protozoans that live in the intestinal walls. Coccidiosis can be quite common in puppies. In young puppies coccidiosis can cause serious diarrhoea and may even cause death from dehydration and malnourishment. Most adult dogs don’t show symptoms but can spread the infection through their faeces, which contaminate the soil.
The starting point for preventing and treating worms (or any other disease) is always a healthy immune system. A dog or cat with a strong immune system is less likely to be an attractive host for any kind of parasite.
Many dogs get some intestinal worms occasionally, but if your fur kids are healthy with a strong immune system, they probably won’t make them sick. In this case you may never know they even had the worms because they will probably just expel them naturally, and you won’t see any symptoms.
Approximately 80% of the immune system is in the gut, so giving your fur kids the best diet you can will help keep worms away. Feed your fur kids a natural, whole foods, preferably biologically, specie appropriate raw meat based diet. Support your fur kid's overall well-being by avoiding pharmaceutical drugs like antibiotics and vaccines as well as pesticides such as flea, tick and heartworm medications.
All these drugs contain toxic ingredients that can harm your dog’s organs, causing serious disease and even death. Keeping your yard free of poop will also help prevent your dog from picking up intestinal worms.
References & Articles
The following articles will further assist you with your research:
- How to Identify Different Dog Worms (Ref)
- Natural Treatments for Deworming Puppies (Ref)
- Natural Remedies Against Worms in Dogs (Ref)
- Eliminate Tapeworms in Dogs Using Natural Remedies (Ref)
- Preventing and Treating Heartworm in Dogs (Ref)
- Eradicate Dog Worms Holistically (Ref)
- DIY Natural, Herbal Dewormers for Dogs and Cats (Ref)
- Safe and Natural Treatments for Internal and External Parasites (Ref)
- Herbal Options For Your Dog’s Worms (Ref)
- Preventing And Treating Worms In Dogs (Ref)
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