What is a worm egg count and why should you do one?

9 CommentsThursday, 18 April 2019  |  Kate

What is a worm egg count?

A worm egg count is a faecal test to look at the worm burden of your dog; if your dog has any worms, what type of worms they are and how many are present. The test results will tell you if your dog needs worming and if your current worming schedule is doing it’s job.

Why you should consider testing your dog for worms.

  • If you’d rather only treat your dog if worms are present
  • If you don’t worm your dog at all
  • If you worm your dog sporadically
  • If they like to scavenge or lick grass
  • Or they are known to take a fancy to dead birds and animals

Then a wormcount is crucial.

How to do a worm egg count

It’s dead easy to do a wormcount. Buy the kit (see below) follow the instructions, take a sample of your dog’s poo and put it in the post to the lab. Your results will be emailed to you in a few days. We use Feclab as our testing laboratory of choice. The postage and lab fees are all included in the price of the kit. It’s fine to put poo in the post as long as it has two barriers between it and the outside world. Ours do.

How does a worm count work?

We use a faecal worm egg count kit in the UK to measure worm burdens in dogs using the McMaster technique. Essentially, the lab takes the poo sample you’ve sent in, puts some of it into a salt suspension and waits for the poo to separate from the eggs. The poo sinks to the bottom and the eggs float to the top. The eggs are counted under the microscope through a grid, the eggs are counted within the grid and there is your EPG (eggs per gram) count.

The lungworm test measures larvae not eggs, using the Baermann Test, similar in principle to the worm test, but looking for larvae. The poo sample is suspended in solution normally for 2-3 hours but can take longer.

What do the results mean?

A typical results sheet will come back with these figures next to each worm tested for.

  • 0 <50 EPG NO EGGS SEEN
    The sign < means ‘less than’, so a result of <50 EPG means the lab could find no trace of worm eggs when the sample was tested. It is very common for a result to come back as <50 EPG no eggs seen.
  • LESS THAN 200 EPG (LOW COUNT)
    If the count is less than 200 EPG then it is a LOW count and your worming measures are working.
  • 200 EPG - 1150 EPG (MEDIUM COUNT)
    If the count is between 200 EPG and 1200 EPG it is a MEDIUM count and your dog needs worming.
  • 1200 EPG OR MORE (HIGH COUNT)
    If the count is more than 1200 EPG it is a HIGH count, your dog needs worming and you need to adjust your worming schedule.

If you get a medium to high egg count result go to your vet and get your dog wormed there. Don’t buy a wormer from a pet shop as they won’t strong enough to do the job.

Which worms are covered by a faecal egg count test?

The common worms found in the UK are tapeworm, roundworm and hookworm. Lungworm is on the increase in the UK and should also be tested for. The first three are covered in one test while lungworm has it’s own. For kit one you get a single pot in the kit. Take a sample of your dog’s poo, fill the pot and get it in the post that day (it’s a freepost envelope and will fit in any post box.

The lungworm test takes longer and needs samples from three days worth of faeces. The kit contains three pots. Fill them up from three consecutive days worth of poo. Once you’ve filled the last pot post the lot to the lab the same day. Results will be emailed to you in a few days time.

How does my dog catch worms?

Tapeworm can be passed on to your dog from immature fleas, but generally dogs get worms from other dogs poo, licking or eating grass which have eggs on them, contaminated soil, licking or eating snails, from fox poo, eating dead animals or animals infected with worms.

Puppies inherit worms from their mother and it is vital to follow the vets worming and flea treatment schedule for the first few months. Worms and fleas can quickly overwhelm a tiny puppy. If you want to go on to natural worming and flea treatment after that you can.

Signs your dog may have worms.

Symptoms your dog may have worms include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Weight loss
  • Dry fur
  • Eating but losing weight
  • Always hungry
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy

Why does my dog get worms?

Intestinal worms need your dog to host them as part of their lifecycle. Your dog ingests worm eggs by any of the means mentioned above, they enter your dog’s gut or blood system where they breed and feed. Hook and tapeworms hang on to the wall of the intestines releasing hundreds of thousands of eggs per day, roundworm and lungworm move into the bloodstream and do the same. Eggs pass out through the dog’s faeces or are coughed up as they work their way up through your dog’s lungs. Lungworm can be fatal can and remain undetected for a long while. When the symptoms finally show themselves their lungworm burden is huge.

Natural worming vs conventional.

How you worm your dog is up to you and for the first few months a puppy should always be wormed by your vet. When a worm egg count comes back with a medium to high reading definitely use a vet wormer. Our Four Seasons and Verm-X work well but should only be done after a worm egg count has come back clear but we strongly recommend overlapping with a vet wormer while moving over to natural because of the way a natural wormer works.

Something like Four Seasons works by making your dogs gut a hostile environment for parasites so when they pick up eggs they’re ushered through your dog’s gut and waved bye-bye on the way out the other end before they get a chance to take hold and lay eggs. Because lungworm moves out of the gut and into the bloodstream no natural product will treat it once it’s in the blood, hence we strongly recommend doing an overlap of conventional with the natural so when one is done the other takes over and any worms in the blood have been dealt with.

Which worms does natural worming protect from?

All the worms listed above provided you follow the overlap first and come back with a clear worm egg count result.

How many times a year should I do a worm egg count?

We recommend doing a test four times a year.

Wormer resistance.

While worms have become far more resistant to conventional wormers over the past few decades, especially in agriculture it’s only just starting to be seen in pet animals. There is no known resistance from using Four Seasons or Verm-X because they’re formulated from plant extracts used naturally by people and animals for centuries.
My Itchy Dog Worm Egg Count Testing Kit

My Itchy Dog Worm Egg Count Testing Kit

  (40)
  • Find out if your dog has worms using a simple worm egg count by post
  • We email you the results, with advice on how to treat any worms present
  • Works with conventional and herbal wormers
  • Save time, money and unnecessary treatment
£17.00
Details

Four Seasons Anti-Parasitic Tincture for Dogs & Cats

Four Seasons Anti-Parasitic Tincture for Dogs & Cats

  (48)
  • An anti-parasitic tincture
  • Use on dogs, cats, horses, sheep and goats
  • No known resistance and completely natural
  • Only 1ml per month required
£11.99
Details

Verm-X Herbal Dog Treats - Natural Intestinal Hygiene Control for Dogs

Verm-X Herbal Dog Treats - Natural Intestinal Hygiene Control for Dogs

  (84)
  • Verm-X Herbal Crunchies for dogs
  • Effective intestinal hygiene control
  • Works for dogs on a raw diet
  • No pharmaceutical ingredients, all natural
£6.45
Details

Nemaslug Natural Slug Killer

Nemaslug Natural Slug Killer

(Not yet reviewed)
  • Help protect your dog from lungworm
  • Control slugs and snails organically
  • Safe for pets, children and wildlife
  • Safe for fruit and veg plants too
£14.95
Details

Susi
Sunday, 29 June 2014  |  8:04

great resources and info- thank you


Diane
Tuesday, 24 February 2015  |  14:05

Hi Katie,
I am interested in the verm-x products but on reading the ingredience noted that the biscuits contain chicken.does the tincture contain chicken? my dog has meat allergies including chicken so I need to avoid products containing the same.
thank you
diane wallace


Kate
Thursday, 26 February 2015  |  11:53

Hi Diane

You can use the Four Seasons as it's homeopathy and herbs. No chicken or any other meat sources. You could also use the Verm-X liquid too.


Lucie
Thursday, 30 July 2015  |  10:36

Hi, I have 3 dogs who I am going to switch over to solely your products (so happy to have finally found a healthier way to protect them) Would I need to test all 3 at the same time with this or would a spot check on one each time (different dog each time) do the trick?


Kate
Thursday, 30 July 2015  |  12:53

Hi Lucie

I would say you need to do a test on all three. Especially with lungworm as you don't know what each dog has licked!

Kate


Sian Harrison-Yale
Friday, 25 November 2016  |  6:53

Hi I have bought four seasons off you and Billy no mates. I am just coming into my second month of using them. I have 2 dogs and a cat and I can find no information on here or the net about the prices of these worm test, including the testing!
Please could you let me know
Thanks Sian


amberitchydog
Tuesday, 31 January 2017  |  13:34

Hi Sian

Thank you for your enquiry.

Worm Count Kits are now available to order, I have attached the link below.

https://www.myitchydog.co.uk/my-itchy-dog-worm-egg-count-testing-kit.html

Amber.


Renate Heywood
Friday, 19 April 2019  |  13:45

Hi Kate,

I live in Montreal, Canada. We do not have a store with your natural dog supplies here and England is the envy of my family. I have ordered dog treats from you and they came very quickly, faster than they do from the USA.
My dog loved the crunchy tendons treat above all and I shall soon order more.
Your book TOP DOG is my dog bible!
Thank you,
Renate


natalie
Tuesday, 23 April 2019  |  11:32

Hi Renate

Thanks so much for your kind words!

I'm so sorry but due to many orders now failing to get through customs when they reach the US, and insurance going through the roof when we try and add the US to our product liability we can no longer send to the US or Canada. So much as we would like to continue we can't.

Natalie