Worms in German Shepherd Dogs
Parasites are a troublesome problem for dogs as well as humans. They can cause a number of problems and in serious cases, can lead to complications that can be fatal, although uncommon. Nonetheless, it’s important that you take care to prevent your dog from acquiring parasites if you can.
We’re going to outline some of the most common types of parasites that your dog might get, some common symptoms, and what to do if you think your dog has an infestation. By the end of the article, you should have a better understanding of what to do.
Types of Parasites in Dogs
There are a lot of different types of worms that your dog could get—flatworms, flukes, roundworms, pinworms, and heartworm are just a few of the different types. These are some of the most common types:
- Flatworms and roundworms: These can function as both internal and external parasites; if they are external, they usually hang out in soil or in water until they are ingested by your dog in which case they will thrive inside of them.
- Flukes: Flukes are generally flat and look kind of like tiny-to-small leaves, ranging from between 5 mm to 10 cm in the most serious cases.
- Heartworm: This disease in dogs is relatively common but can be quite severe. The disease can eventually lead to failure of various organ systems and death.
Ringworm is a form of fungal infection that actually appears on the skin and isn't a worm.
How Do German Shepherd Dogs Get Worms?
There are a number of things that can contribute to the chances of your dog acquiring a parasite. These are some of the most common things. Most of these are a result of your dog eating something it shouldn't have:
- Dogs eating the feces of other dogs who have an active infestation.
- Dogs that are scavenging for food outside may eat food contaminated by soil containing eggs or cysts.
- If your dog eats or drinks out of an unwashed, contaminated bowl.
- If your dog eats a flea or the eggs of a worm while grooming they could contract internal worms.
- Eating raw meat or inhaling small worm eggs can also introduce them into the body.
- Mosquito bites (can lead to heartworm).
- Hookworms and flukes can actually break through the skin of a dog and infect them from surface contact.
Some people prefer not to put their dogs on a raw food diet because they believe that there is an increased chance of them contracting worms. This is especially true if your dog is eating raw meat. This doesn't mean raw food is not an option, but it does require some precautions, prevention and making sure the food is always fresh and regular check-ups at the vet.
Symptoms of Worms in Dogs
There are a number of symptoms that can emerge in a sick dog. Some dogs may not display any symptoms at first (or if the infestation is mild), but more serious infestations can lead to the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Painful or excessive passing of stool, watery stool
- Infection in the rectum or digestive tract
- Gas and bloating
- Vomiting occurring over the course of several days, nausea
- Weakness and fatigue
- Weight loss and appetite reduction
What Type of Parasite Has Your German Shepherd Had?
Deworming Your Dog
The first and most obvious thing you’ll want to do is get your dog to a veterinarian. Your vet will know the best and most effective way to get rid of the parasite. Your vet will probably prescribe some medication—these drugs are often not very healthy and can cause unwanted effects but they are often necessary.
It's good that you notice any changing health or appetite issues in your dog and deworm them early while they are in good health. I've seen people go homeopathic and the completely organic way and only went to the vet to get medication when the dog was already very weak. Please talk to a real vet when in doubt.
The best thing you can do for your dog is to ensure they have a strong immune system and are healthy overall. Make sure you feed them a healthy diet with lots of protein, some fat, and fairly low carbs. Many decent brands provide a good mix of ingredients for your dog, you can add raw food to your dog's diet if you know what you are doing.
If you think the meat you might be feeding could contain parasites, you should always cook it. Ground pumpkin seed has proved beneficial in getting rid of parasites, as well as dried coconut and probiotics. As always, check with your veterinairian.
- Palika L. and Albert T. Your German Shepherd Puppy Month by Month, 2nd Edition: Everything You Need to Know at Each State to Ensure Your Cute and Playful Puppy. Alpha, 2016, 352 p.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2019 Sam Shepards