When talking about dogs and internal parasites, it is very likely that the first thought crossing our mind is the image of a puppy and the importance of deworming for their health, given just how vulnerable a puppy is. However, young dogs are not the only ones affected by these invasive “worms.” The most experienced ones of the pack, adult and elderly dogs, can also suffer from internal parasites.
There are certain points that we need to bear in mind in order to protect an aging dog from internal parasites:
- Over the years, adult animals develop a certain “tolerance” to some internal parasites. This means that they become very good at concealing a number of parasitic diseases: they show practically no symptoms, so by the time we realize it, the condition has worsened considerably.
- Although adult dogs are very good at concealing internal parasites, they also eliminate their eggs into the environment, contaminating it. If the dog lives together with a younger one, it is very likely that the younger one will become infected and suffer more from the infection. It is therefore essential to deworm both at the same time.
- Stressful situations may depress their immune system and expose parasitic diseases that had been concealed.
- Some aging dogs, either because of their own digestive sensitivity or due to a concurrent disease (kidney, liver or hormone disorders, etc.), do not usually tolerate oral anti-parasitics very well. Fortunately, today there are better alternatives that are applied directly on the skin and absorbed with no need for digestion, eliminating round- and flat worms at the same time.
- Certain parasites and their larvae migrate or become lodged in various organs, such as the heart or kidneys, causing their dysfunction. When your pet shows the symptoms and a diagnosis is reached, many times these organs are already so affected that the prognosis, as regards their quality of life, may prove discouraging.
- Some medications administered to elderly dogs may interfere with certain anti-parasitics and vice versa. Therefore, it is important not to medicate your pet on your own but to do so under professional orders.
- The eggs and larvae that are passed along with stool, whether they come from puppies, adult animals or elderly dogs, may affect other family members living together with the pet.
Ultimately, frequent deworming of elderly dogs is really important, especially if your pet lives with children or immunocompromised individuals such as an elderly person or a pregnant woman, among others. It is best to deworm preventively to eliminate adult parasites and larvae, instead of waiting for your pet to show symptoms. As we said, this can mean that the deterioration in their body is greater.
Bottom line: always talk to a vet you trust to choose the anti-parasitic most suitable for your pet, considering its health condition and life habits and your family’s composition.