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Question
Posted by: Jean | 2012/04/04

Cybervet - Spirocerca in dogs

Dear Cybervet. Please can you give us a little more info on a worm I have heard about and googled: Spirocerca - which apparently is all over the country, and you do not know your dog has it until it may be too late. Can you tell us what to look for in our dogs? Can our Vets diagnose it with simple checks, or must it be more complex checks? Seems to be a very scary worm. Real fancy info on the internet, but maybe we need a little simpler info. Can you help?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

Great question.

Spirocerca is a common parasite of domestic dogs and wild carnivores. Animal are infected through the ingestion of the dung beetle as well as mice, hedgehogs, lizards, birds and rabbits. Following ingestion the larvae go from the stomach and eventually into the oesophagus where the worm matures in nodules. Clinically the condition can vary depending on the stage of the disease. You can get oesophageal disease - vomiting, weight loss, regurgitation, salivation etc. Other signs may include coughing, enlargement of the salivary glands, pyrexia and chronic anemia. Roughly 2-12% of cases present as acute deaths following migration of the larva through the aorta. Diagnosis is confirmed with the aid eggs in faecal material, x-rays and endoscopy. The current treatment in SA is the use of Doramectin or Advocate.
I hope this helps.

Kind regards

Angus Campbell

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Jean | 2012/05/17

Dear Cybervet. Thanks for your great advice. I went to my Vet, and he said the worm is rife in my area in Centurion, and other areas. He gave me further information on Advocate, and I now have my 2 dogs on monthly treatments to prevent them getting this horrible little worm. I used to pick up poop daily, I now do it at least twice daily, or whenever I see it on the lawn - dung beetle is key. I am relieved that I can protect my companions. I have noted when they need their monthly treatment in my dairy for the next years. Thanks again.

Reply to Jean
Posted by: CyberVet | 2012/04/24

Great question.

Spirocerca is a common parasite of domestic dogs and wild carnivores. Animal are infected through the ingestion of the dung beetle as well as mice, hedgehogs, lizards, birds and rabbits. Following ingestion the larvae go from the stomach and eventually into the oesophagus where the worm matures in nodules. Clinically the condition can vary depending on the stage of the disease. You can get oesophageal disease - vomiting, weight loss, regurgitation, salivation etc. Other signs may include coughing, enlargement of the salivary glands, pyrexia and chronic anemia. Roughly 2-12% of cases present as acute deaths following migration of the larva through the aorta. Diagnosis is confirmed with the aid eggs in faecal material, x-rays and endoscopy. The current treatment in SA is the use of Doramectin or Advocate.
I hope this helps.

Kind regards

Angus Campbell

Reply to CyberVet
Posted by: george | 2012/04/19

Thanks for the little extra. Heard dewormer needs to be at least monthly. We need more information from Cybervet for all to see as we all are getting various messages - heard there is something new - will see my Vet this weekend to find out more for myself. Hopefully Cybervet will sometime tackle this and give us all clarity.

Reply to george
Posted by: megan | 2012/04/17

My labrador Dan had the spirocerca worm. I didn''t know anything about it before and always dewormed him regularly. He started coughing, but only after eating, and for a short while so I didn''t think it was serious.The vet x-rayed him and there was a lump found in his oesophagus - which was the spirocerca worm. Apparently the dog gets the worm from eating poop (ha-de-da or other dog) yucky I know... but some dogs do this and mine has this unfortunate habit. you can get a special dewormer from the vet called " Milbemax"  that will kill the worm and I now use it for all my dogs every 3 months. My dog Dan is fine now, and I take him for regular x-rays and checkups and all evidence of the worm is gone, but there is a small bit of damage to his heart unfortunately. Hope my experience helps with your question.

Reply to megan
Posted by: Magrie | 2012/04/04

Hi,

Yes, I would also like some info. I take my dog for his vaccinations on a yearly basis but I believe that there is no vac against Spirocerca? How do we protect our pets against this worm?

Reply to Magrie

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