What is a worm 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.
Then a wormcount is crucial.
How to do a worm egg count
It’s dead easy to do a wormcount. Buy the kit and follow the instructions (see below), take a sample of your dog’s poo, put it in the container provided and freepost it to the lab. The kit will fit into any post box. Your results will be emailed to you in a few days in a clear and easy to understand format along with any recommendations. 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.
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 be 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:
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.
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.