Worms.. what you need to consider
If your doctor said, here, take this chemical/poison wormer you give to your pet, would YOU take it? If not, WHY on earth would you give it to your beloved companions?
Dog worms cause thousands of canine deaths every year. Worms can also be passed from pet to pet or even to humans. Worms will compete with the pet’s food and, in some cases, suck the blood from their digestive tract, causing damage that will be permanent and can affect the secreting of chemicals necessary for it to digest its food properly. In extreme cases, the worms can be so large that they can actually block the digestive tract, causing the animal to become seriously ill or even die.
Dealing with parasites such as worms is very important to keep your dog happy and healthy but at the same time resisting the many chemicals normally prescribed can be confusing.
The following are some key points to bear in mind when deciding between chemical or natural worming:
Any time a foreign substance is introduced into or even on your dog's body, (yours too for that matter) there will be a reaction. Most of the time the reaction will happen internally and you will not be aware of how detrimental this foreign substance really is for a while. Imagine how extremely lethal a chemical has to be if it is administered only once every three or six months and you are warned to wear gloves and keep the animal away from your children for a time.
Chemical wormers add irritants and poisons to the digestive tract. Many conventional dewormers use chemcial-based pesticides that contain toxins and carcinogens.
Blanket worming is not an exact science. Many of the household brand wormers work only for one type of worm and not for others. Today we are advised to change our products each time, but many wormers have the same ingredients and are just being sold under a different name
In addition, worms are now becoming totally resistant to chemicals and there are no new chemicals being developed. As the resistance to chemicals grows, so stronger dosages need to be used and the safety margins become smaller.
When a wormer is given, although it removes worms already present in the digestive tract, it doesn’t have a residual effect, but leaves your dog’s system after a few days, so it won’t prevent re-infection.
Chemical wormers, even the so called safe ones can cause vomiting and intestinal upset while totally disrupting the natural flora balance in the gut. Chemical wormers kill the parasites, and the host (your pet) of these parasites will not escape the toxicity of the chemicals in totality. Actually your dog's liver has to work overtime to try to eliminate these toxins from the body.
Side effects noted from giving Drontal Plus include:
loss of appetite
severe nausea and vomiting
muscle and joint aches blurred or yellow vision
pain while urinating
yellow eyes and skin
redness, blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
Pyrantel Embonate- one of the contradictions for this ingredient in Drontal plus is acute liver failure
Symptoms that your dog may be reacting badly to worming tablets include:
Skin irritations or bumps
Organ Problems, Kidney Problems
More serious allergic reactions symptoms
Head pressing or head shaking
Excessive Vomiting (If this happens once or twice just stop giving the medicine, if it keeps happening call a vet)
Fits, Drooling and Shivering
Excessive Diarrhoea (If this happens once or twice just stop giving the medicine, if it keeps happening call a vet)
Usually symptoms stop when you stop giving the medicine.
So what are your options for an alternative/natural approach to worming, and how do these work?
Firstly it is important to recognise that parasites will not live in a healthy digestive system.
The pet’s immune system plays an important role in the level of worm infestation that he might have. The pet will naturally repel a greater number of worms if he has a strong immune system. Pets with a low immune system, such as the very young or the very old, are more at risk from large worm infestations and worm damage because they have low natural defences.
A raw food diet keeps the gut healthy. Because 70% of an animal’s immune function comes from the gut, a healthy GI tract and immune system will allow your companion’s body to function in the way it was designed to, and will naturally keep parasites at a minimum. Raw food also contains enzymes, which have strong anti-parasitic properties. Most low-end commercial diets are lacking these essential nutrients.
Pharmaceutical treatments have only been around since the 1930’s, whereas herbs have been used to repel parasites for hundreds of years. Herbal and natural herbs and substances work with the pet's system to create an environment that repels adult worms and in which they cannot survive.
Nature has supplied us with herbs that are bitter and astringent - these herbs are called anthelmintic’s. Anthelmintic herbs are particularly helpful and beneficial to eliminate worms and parasites from the body. They work best given over a long period of time.
Anthelmintics come in two categories: vermicides and vermifuges. Vermicides are agents that destroy worms without necessarily causing their expulsion from the bowels; Vermifuges usually havie cathartic properties, which expel worms, eggs and larvae from the bowels.
As well as Anthelmintics there are Taeniafuges and Taeniacides. These are herbs that expel (taeniafuges) or kill (taeniacides) tapeworms in the intestinal tract.
For a product to be effective it must include a combination of these herbs. Also needed is a good demulcent: demulcent herbs act as a soothing agent to calm any inflamed or damaged tissue. And last, but not least, it should contain a stimulant to prompt the herbs to work as a formulation.
As many anthelmintic herbs are very bitter and cathartics very strong, it is usually a good practice to add a herb that has both a palatable flavour as well as a pleasant aroma; this can be the chosen stimulant or demulcent.
Another option to consider is the use of diatomaceous earth (food grade). As DE moves through the stomach and digestive tract, it attracts and absorbs bacteria, fungi, protozoa, viruses, endotoxins, pesticide and drug residues, E-Coli, and heavy metals. These toxins are trapped and passed out of the body. In addition, any larger parasites that happen to be in the stomach of digestive tract are “cut up” and killed by the sharp edges of the DE. All of these activities result in a much healthier body with less sickness. Food grade DE is considered to eliminate roundworms, whipworms, pinworms, and hookworms iwithin 7 days of being fed daily.
We also recommend doing a worm egg count on a regular yearly basis. To be honest it’s worth getting done whichever way you choose to treat your dog. A worm egg count will give you an accurate picture of the worm egg burden your dog is currently carrying. It’s an excellent and cost effective way to keep eye on your dog’s gut health.
You can typically get a kit in the post, collect a sample, post it back to the lab and the test results will be emailed to you in a few days. On average this will cost somewhere in the region of €40.