Wednesday, 30th January 2013
John Owens graduated from the Veterinary College U.C.D. in 1997. He, along with his wife Susan, recently opened Ani-Pets veterinary clinic in Tramore, which is dedicated to the full time care of all companion animals, including exotic pets. He has a special interest in preventative medicine and nutrition.
Has my dog got worms?
"I have a three year old female terrier dog called Britney, and recently she has been licking under her tail and dragging her bottom across the floor. My father thinks that this is because she has worms and it is causing her to have an itchy bottom. How often should I be treating her for worms and how do I know what kind of tablet to give her? Would there be any other reason for her to be behaving like this? She is eating and drinking as usual and does not appear to be sick."
the behaviour your dog is showing is quite common. When a dog drags its rear end along the floor or other surface in a sitting position, we call this activity "scooting". The licking she is doing indicates that there is some discomfort or itching in the area around the bottom. This combination of symptoms is often caused by impacted or infected anal sacs, which are also known as anal glands. There are two of these glands, which are situated internally to each side of the anus, which can fill up with an oily, foul-smelling secretion. If these anal sacs are working normally, they will empty out this nasty material spontaneously when your dog goes to the toilet. If they don't empty naturally, the sacs can become uncomfortably full, impacted or infected. This can progress to a blockage or abscess, which in turn can cause a serious infection.
Your dog's behaviour could be caused by her trying to get relief from this problem. It is necessary for you to bring your dog to your vet for a general health check and examination, which will also include an examination of the anal sacs so that this problem can be accurately diagnosed and treated. If anal sac disease progresses into a serious problem, which can happen very quickly, the dog can show signs of pain and can become reluctant to move at all. The dog may also not want to be handled, lifted or groomed at all.
If your dog has an anal sac problem, it may recur and need to be treated on a regular basis. In some cases, adjusting a dog's diet by increasing the fibre content will aid the anal sacs emptying by themselves.
As regards worms, it is possible that dogs can pick up worms that cause an itchy bottom. An example would be tapeworms, which dogs often contract through a flea infestation. Your vet will weigh your dog and provide you with an appropriate worm treatment which will treat and protect against any parasitic worms that your dog could have. An adult dog, such as Britney, should be wormed every three months. Regular flea control will also help prevent tapeworm infestation.
There are also other possibilities, such as skin allergies or other infections, that could be linked to your dog's symptoms. Again, a routine veterinary examination and parasite check carried out by your vet will allow the exact cause to be identified and treated.
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