Until a very recent period worms were thought to be of a spontaneous origin, brought about by the influence of heat upon decaying vegetable matter, and it was, and still is, freely asserted that puppies are born with worms inherited from the mother while still in utero. This is a mistake, as worms spring from individual eggs, and have a complete life history of their own.
ROUND WORMS.-The principal species are round worms and tape worms. The first-named commonly infest puppies, and consequently are most dreaded by breeders. In shape and size they resemble common angle worms, but in color are lighter, being almost white or only a pale pink. In adult dogs these worms, when full grown, are from three to seven inches long; in puppies they are about half that length and as thick as common white string. Round worms live in the small intestines, sometimes coiled in such masses as to obstruct the passage, and occasionally they wander into the stomach or are passed by the bowels.
It is easy to understand that when one dog in a kennel is infected with worms millions of eggs will be passed with the feces. These are scattered all over the floors, bedding, feeding and drinking pans. They get on the dog’s coat, are licked off and swallowed and in numbers of ways gain entrance to the digestive tracts of other dogs, where they soon hatch out and in ten days are fully developed. This rapid development accounts for the popular belief that puppies are born with worms, for breeders who have held post-mortems on puppies scarcely ten days old have found in their stomachs fully developed round worms could account for their presence in no other way. They overlooked the fact that the prospective mother, confined in a kennel infested with worms, would get these eggs attached to her coat, belly, and breasts, and the young, as soon as born, would take these eggs into their stomachs with the first mouthful of milk.
Symptoms.-Worms are responsible for so much sickness and so many symptoms that it is practically impossible to mention all of them; but their presence can safely be suspected in all dogs which have not been recently treated for them, as well as in cases where the patient is run down, unthrifty, and out of sorts.
Other symptoms are: a hot, dry nose; weak, watery eyes; pale lips and gums; foul breath; mean hacking cough, and a red, scurfy, pimply or irritated condition of the skin, and harsh, dry, staring coat that is constantly being shed. Wormy dogs sometimes have a depraved appetite, and will eat dirt and rubbish. Some days they are ravenously hungry, the next day they will not eat at all; their sleep is disturbed by dreams and intestinal rumbling; the urine is high colored and frequently passed; bowels irregular; stomach easily unsettled; watery mucus is frequently vomited, and the mouth is hot, sticky, and full of ropy saliva. Puppies which are full of worms bloat easily and are pot-bellied. After feeding their stomachs distend disproportionately to the amount of food consumed. Their bodies are also subject to scaly eruptions and their bowels to colicky pains; they do not grow as rapidly as healthy puppies should, and instead of playing with each other they curl up and sleep hour after hour; they get thinner, weaker, and more lifeless from day to day, and if they do not waste away or die in fits and convulsions with frothing at the mouth and champing of the jaws, grow up coarse jointed, rickety, and misshapen. Puppies with worms are also liable to paralysis of their rear limbs, and on removal of the worms the puppies regain control of the affected parts.
Prevention.-The prevention of worms is a subject of importance to every breeder. There should be a continuous fight kept up against fleas and dirt. There is nothing better than coarse soap, plenty of hot water and a scrubbing brush; dash buckets of boiling water over the floors and walls and whitewash the kennels frequently. Change the bedding twice a week and burn all old straw, litter, and dirt.
Treat your puppies at two, four, and six months old for worms. Treat all brood bitches for worms, and give them a bath ten days before whelping, so as to cleanse their coats of any eggs that may be attached to breasts or coats. The mixing of a teaspoonful of powdered charcoal with a dog’s food once a day will tend to keep the intestines clear of the mucus where the eggs find a most hospitable home.
Treatment.-Many different drugs are recommended for the expulsion of worms, and some of the prescriptions handed down by the old school of horse doctors and dog men are more to be dreaded than the worms, as it is an unfortunate fact that about as many dogs are killed by medicine as by worms. The drugs in common use for worm cures are areca-nut, santonine, calomel, and turpentine. They are all very powerful, and should be compounded with care. As an illustration, areca-nut is an irritant only a little less severe than powdered glass. Santonine is a poison that frequently causes fits and convulsions. Calomel usually acts on the liver and not on the worms, while turpentine severely irritates the kidneys. The safest and most effectual remedy for round worms is Dent’s Vermifuge. It can be obtained from druggists in either liquid or capsule form, and will be found more economical and reliable than anything the druggist can prepare. The capsules are of soft, elastic gelatine, the dose is accurately regulated, and they are easily administered.
TAPEWORMS.-As their name indicates, tapeworms are made up of flat joints or sections half an inch or less in length that resemble pieces of white tape. These sections will sometimes be found scattered about the kennel in the feces or hanging from the anus of an affected dog. There are a num ber of species of tapeworms. The head of the tapeworm, which is the smallest part and is scarcely larger than a thread, has a blind or sucker mouth by which it attaches itself to the intestines and through which it draws its nourishment. The tapeworm does not lay eggs, as the round worm does, but reproduces itself by the segments that form the body. These segments are smallest at the head, and as they recede gradually increase in size and are replaced by new segments until finally they become full grown or ripe. When this stage is reached they detach themselves from the body of the worm and are passed in the feces.
Symptoms.-The indications of tapeworms are in some cases similar to those of round worms, but often they are indefinite. Their presence, however, may be suspected in adult dogs with voracious appetites which remain unthrifty and out of sorts, or in dogs affected with chorea, partial paralysis, or nervous affections, and those which are generally out of sorts. A dog presenting these symptoms which has been treated for round worms without results or been given tonics without improvement in his condition, should be treated for tapeworms. One of the best remedies for both round and tapeworms-which makes it very valuable for puppiesis an emulsion of pumpkin seed. This is the active principle of Dent’s Vermifuge. We have found it very effective in both old and young dogs, and for round worms as well as tapeworms. We do not wish our readers to infer that the others are not as good, but what we wish to say is that for such diseases as worms and distemper the specially prepared remedies are more reliable than ordinary prescriptions.