As a dog owner, few words can strike as much fear and panic in your heart as “Your dog has worms.” A case of worms in your dog is more than just a gross inconvenience. Left untreated, intestinal worms can cause several health issues for your canine companion.
This is why it’s essential that you know how dogs get worms, how to tell if your dog has worms and how to get rid of worms in dogs.
- Causes of worms in dogs
- How to tell if your dog has worms
- Types of worms in dogs
- Treating and preventing worms in dogs
- Emergency Fund
Causes of worms in dogs
Your dog can contract worms in many ways, which is why worms are so common in dogs. Let’s face it, dogs are curious and frequently investigate the world with not just their nose but their tongue as well. This curiosity and hunting instinct can expose your dog to worms.
According to research, parasites like worms live in the grass and soil, so it’s super easy for your dog to pick these up while sniffing around outside. Scavenging and hunting behavior (chasing and catching other small animals, like birds, rodents, etc.) can also lead to your dog picking up worms.
Fleas and mosquitos can also transmit worms. Roundworms can be contracted through the bite of mosquitos, while tapeworms can be acquired by ingesting fleas while grooming. Roundworms and hookworm can also be passed from an infected mother to her pups.
So, it’s clear that your dog’s world is rife with opportunities to pick up parasitic worms.
How to tell if your dog has worms
Not all worm infestations show symptoms, so it can be tricky to tell if your dog has worms. There may be changes in your dog’s daily behaviors that can clue you in. Look for the following changes in health and appearance:
- Runny poops that may also contain blood or mucus;
- Vomiting that may also contain worms;
- Weight loss or reduced appetite;
- Dry coat and general unhealthy appearance;
- An itchy bottom leading to scooting and chewing to relieve this;
- Worm segments visible in poop, resembling grains of rice. These may also be seen on the fur of the behind or base of the tail.
Let’s take a look at the types of worms in dogs and the symptoms they can cause:
Types of worms in dogs
To defeat an enemy, you must know your enemy, and when it comes to worms, it’s essential to know the types of worms out there and the danger they pose to your precious pup. Feel free to Google these types if you wish to see worms in dogs images (trigger warning: don’t do this if you have a weak stomach).
What follows are the most common intestinal worms that affect dogs:
Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite in dogs, particularly in puppies. There are, in fact, two species of roundworm that affect dogs: Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonine.
T. canis is most common in puppies and can be passed to humans, which is why it’s essential to deworm new puppies. If left untreated, roundworm can lead to poor growth and, in severe cases, death.
- Swollen belly;
- Weight loss;
- Dull coat.
Just the name ‘hookworm’ sounds vicious. And the truth is that these worms can be fatal, particularly in puppies, if left untreated.
Hookworms are small but compared to their size; their appetite is voracious. They can consume large amounts of your dog’s blood once they attach themselves to the intestinal wall.
Hookworm larvae enter your dog from the environment or through an infected mother’s milk to her pups. The eggs of hookworms are excreted in the stool but are microscopic and so aren’t visible to the naked eye. The eggs in the poop can live in the soil for several months, so even once the poop has been picked up or returned to the soil, these eggs can still infect a passing dog or his owner.
- Diarrhea with blood;
- Weakness and lethargy.
Another aggressive-sounding name, whipworms, invade your dog through ingestion of soil, food, water, feces, or animal flesh that is infected. The worm itself lives in the cecum, the beginning of the large intestine, and the eggs are passed in your dog’s poop.
In a warm and moist environment, these eggs can survive for as long as five years and go on to infect other dogs or humans. In mild cases, whipworm doesn’t tend to cause significant symptoms. Still, in extreme cases, you may notice your dog losing weight, passing blood in their stools, and experiencing diarrhea and anemia.
- Mucus or blood in poop;
- Severe weight loss.
Tapeworm in dogs
Dogs usually contract tapeworms from eating infected fleas (another reason to take flea prevention seriously) or eating other small animals that may be infected. The tapeworm eggs go on to hatch inside your dog and attach to the lining of your dog’s intestines.
A dog infected with a tapeworm may pass segments of the worm in their stool; these are visible to the naked eye and resemble small grains of rice.
- An itchy behind;
- Excessive scooting.
The most serious of all the worms are heartworms. But the good news is that these are also the most preventable. These parasites are transmitted by mosquitos, making them almost impossible to avoid, but regular preventative treatment can keep your doggo safe.
What makes these worms so dangerous is that they grow and reproduce within the heart of an infected dog. Once they’ve taken hold here, they can cause heart failure as well as lung problems and go on to damage other organs. Left untreated, heartworms can ultimately result in death.
Prevention, specifically when it comes to heartworms, is better than cure. At least it’s significantly simpler and more cost-effective. Treating heartworm is a long process that will also cost a great deal.
- Avoiding exercise;
- Fatigue after even moderate exercise;
- Weight loss;
- Decreased appetite.
Treating and preventing worms in dogs
The battle against intestinal worms is a very real part of being a dog pawrent. Sticking to a regular dog deworming schedule will go a long way in keeping your dog safe and healthy. Your vet can recommend a good dewormer for dogs to use. Some worms, like heartworms, are difficult and expensive to treat once they’ve set up shop inside your dog.
Other ways to prevent and treat worms in dogs include cleaning up after your pet. Deworming is good and well, but a dog can become reinfected from their poop even after deworming. Make sure to clean up “landmines’ in your yard promptly.
Dog parks are fun and offer a great way for your dog to socialize with other dogs. But spending loads of time here can increase your dog’s exposure to worm eggs and larvae.
Fleas carry tapeworms. So, your job doesn’t stop at deworming. Flea control is an important part of preventing tapeworms.
This one might be a tricky one to execute, but if you can prevent your dog from chasing and catching wildlife, it can significantly reduce your dog’s exposure to worms that may be present in small animals like rodents.
Being a pet parent comes with the responsibility of caring for your pet’s health and well-being. You’ve probably got this all well in hand on a day-to-day level, but what happens when there’s an emergency and your dog needs urgent veterinary care? Accidents and injuries can happen at any time, and when they do, they can rack up veterinary bills at an eye-watering rate.
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What to expect after deworming a dog?
Once you’ve given a dog dewormer, you may see worms in your dog’s poop. Mostly they will be dead worms, but live ones can also be seen. It’s crucial that you clean up these poops thoroughly and quickly, so your dog does not become reinfected.
Other side effects of deworming a dog include diarrhea.
What is the ideal deworming schedule for dogs?
Adult dogs should be given deworming medicine for dogs every three to four months. Puppies should be given a dewormer for puppies every three months. Your family should take deworming medicine twice yearly (every six months) – your family doctor or pharmacist can recommend one.
Is there a natural dewormer for dogs?
A healthy, balanced diet is the first step in boosting your dog’s immune system, which can fight off worms. Fermented veggies are great at keeping gut bacteria balanced, creating an environment in which worms can’t take hold. You can buy these or make them yourself.
Pumpkin seeds – raw and unsalted – contain an amino acid called Cucurbitin, which paralyzes intestinal worms and helps expel them from the body. Garlic can also help deworm your dog but should never be used in pregnant or lactating females or any dog on blood thinning medication.
Other natural ways to get rid of worms in dogs include apple cider vinegar, grated fruits and veggies, and plants like chamomile, parsley, thyme, and olive leaf.