Roundworms have developed in such a way that they can flourish in just about any environment. They can be detected in freshwater, sea water and even terrestrial environments.
There are almost 20,000 species of roundworms, out of which 15,000 are parasitic. They are also the most prevalent of the worms when compared to all other types of worms in dogs.
A lot of dogs are born with roundworms. These are usually passed to them by their mothers through the uterus or through the mammary glands. A mother can transfer larvae that are lying dormant in her tissues or organs to the fetuses she is carrying.
She can also transmit the larvae while nursing since the larvae can enter the mammary glands and be ingested by the puppies.
Nevertheless, there are other ways in which roundworms can enter the body of a dog. The most common among them is by ingestion.
Dogs can consume roundworm eggs or larvae-infected feces since many dogs do have a tendency towards coprophagy (eating feces). They can also ingest larvae by consuming other contaminated animals like rodents.
Roundworms have an elaborate system of migration in the body. The migration method depends upon the age of the dog. In adult dogs, roundworm eggs hatch inside the body and the larvae migrates to the respiratory system or other parts of the body. They can remain dormant inside an organ and can resurface years later.
In younger dogs, the larvae generally migrate to the respiratory system. These are then coughed up as vomit. In most cases, the dogs eat the vomit and the larvae enter the stomach.
Upon maturing in the intestines, the adult worms produce eggs that are excreted in the stool, and the cycle continues.
All parasites feed off the host. Unlike dog tapeworms that absorb food through their skin, roundworms have separate openings for ingestion and excretion. Roundworms intake whatever they can from what the dog eats, stripping the host dog of the nourishment that is essential for its growth and health.
Diagnosing the prevalence of roundworms is comparatively easy. A close examination of the stools shall reveal if your dog is infected with roundworm because the whole worm can be seen in the stool. The round spaghetti-like shape is also easy to decipher.
It is possible that you observe symptoms of roundworms in dogs even when there is no physical evidence of the presence of roundworms in the stools. In such cases, a microscopic evaluation of the dog's stool becomes necessary to ascertain if roundworm eggs are present.
A lot of times you may actually see some common feline parasites in dog stools. This can happen if your dog has ingested infected cat feces.
Although roundworms have a role to play in the overall ecosystem, they can lead to uncontrollable conditions inside a dog's body. Early detection can prove to be very beneficial and can help you get rid of the threat sooner.
Treatment is of major importance, and any treatment of worms in dogs should be repeated over time to effectively kill all live and dormant larvae.