Worms in Working Dogs

working dog on farm

A lot of farmers will remember the good old days of compulsory dog dosing to protect our sheep against sheep measles. Lucky for us, this worked brilliantly and because of this we no longer have to endure these days, however monthly worming is still very important. The incidence of sheep measles is low in New Zealand but if it were to increase again it would have a negative impact on our meat export market. Sheep measles are caused by a tapeworm. The life cycle involves both sheep and dogs. In a nutshell the dogs eat infected sheep meat and then poo eggs onto pasture for sheep to then eat. In sheep after the eggs are ingested they move out of the gut and get into the bloodstream where they travel to the muscle.

Once in the muscle they form cysts. If these cysts are eaten by a dog while still in the infective stage they mature into tapeworms in the dog’s gut and lay eggs which are then dispensed onto pasture starting the cycle again. If the sheep is not killed for meat then the immune system will kill these cysts leaving defects in the muscle tissue. It is these defects along with large active cysts that cause the carcass to be downgraded if they are seen at the works.

Prevention is simple. Don’t feed your dogs meat, if you do ensure it has been frozen to below -10 for at least 7 days or heated to at least 72. Preventative worming programme are also very important. Vetsouth does have a sheep measles preventative worming programme available just give us a call and we can get you signed up. This involves a monthly worm treatment. It is important that ALL dogs coming onto your property are up to date with their worming treatments.

drontal worker for dogs

- Angela Butcher


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