dog worms

Worms in Dogs: Signs & Symptoms of Dog Deworming

Worms in dogs are deadly and can cause death. Dogs can get worms simply by licking themselves and ingesting fleas or through feces and specific bugs such as slugs. Worms, if not treated, pertain to serious health risks for dogs and pets. 

Luckily, there are preventative measures your dog can take through medication and diet. This article is not to take professional advice from a veterinarian but to help you become aware of the signs and dangers of worms. 

Types of Worms

Coughing, diarrhea, and lethargy are just some symptoms your dog may be suffering from a type of worm in their system. There are four types of contagious worms that can infect your canine friend:

  1. Roundworms

Roundworms are the most common parasite and are mainly found in puppies, transferred through mothers’ milk, or are born with them. Roundworms consume puppies’ food and nutrition, essentially starving their host. Roundworms find their way to the dog’s liver and live in the dog’s intestines. Roundworm larvae shed into dog feces and repeat the life cycle once ingested by a host. 

  1. Whipworms

Whipworms suck the host’s blood by burrowing their heads into the dog’s large intestine, where they live and feed off the dog’s sustenance. Dogs ingest whipworms through self-grooming. Once whipworm is ingested, they make their way to the small intestine to lay their larvae before moving to the large intestine to live. 

  1. Tapeworms

Tapeworms are parasites that live in the small intestine and are contracted from dogs eating fleas. Tapeworms are ingested by fleas and then lay eggs inside the flea. If the dog ingests the flea, the tapeworm then finds a home inside the dog’s intestines and grows into segments of itself reproducing at a significant speed. 

  1. Hookworms

Much like whipworms, the hookworm sucks the host’s blood through the intestinal mucosa and is smaller than roundworms, nor can they be seen in the stool or vomit. Hookworms live in the dog’s small intestine, and their eggs are released through the dog’s bowels. Hence, the cycle repeats if ingested into another host. 

What Do Worms Look Like In Dogs?

  • Roundworm – Round, white, or light brown, and look like cooked spaghetti noodles
  • Whipworm – Wide end while the rest of the body is tiny in circumference. It looks like a whip and is rarely seen by the naked eye.
  • Tapeworm – Flat (tape-like) body that is several inches long and consists of multiple segments that attach to the head and neck. It looks like a grain of rice or sesame seed found in dog poop. Different types of dog poop can mean different things for their health.
  • Hookworm – S-shaped, clear, and microscopic

Signs Your Dog Has Worms

Luckily, there are many clear signs that your dog may have worms. If you notice any of the following symptoms, ensure you get your canine friend to the vet immediately for treatment:

  • Weight loss
  • Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Anemia
  • Lethargy
  • Bloating
  • Pneumonia
  • Vomiting

Since dogs can become in contact with parasites from birth to adulthood, it’s always best to take your dog to the vet monthly for regular checkups. 

Are Worms Contagious?

Yes, when dogs come into contact with worms, they can be very contagious to other pets and humans. If you clean your dog’s feces (or cat’s litter box) without knowing they have parasites, you can become in contact with roundworms. Ensure that you wash and sanitize your hands every time you deal with animal deposits. 

Accidental ingestion can happen through touching your face, mouth, eyes, or even using the washroom and wiping without first washing your hands and face thoroughly.

What Happens if Worms Are Not Treated?

Dogs will transfer hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms to humans if these parasites are left untreated. Hookworms and whipworms suck the host’s blood through the intestines, so this can cause anemia which is treated with blood transfusions if severe enough. 

Worms and other parasites can lead to death, especially if left untreated in puppies (or kittens and babies.) Dogs who have weakened immune systems and are very old or young are more likely to experience serious issues. 

How To Prevent Dog Worms?

The best preventative method for worms and parasites is monthly vet visits for deworming and defleaing treatment. However, there are things you can do to prevent your pup from coming into contact with parasites. 

  • Practice good hygiene for the entire family
  • Give your dog monthly baths
  • Schedule regular vet checkups
  • Avoid heavily fece areas when taking your dog to the park or for a walk
  • Properly dispose of your dog’s feces with gloves immediately after they have defecated, followed by washing or sanitizing your hands

Parasite Prevention Diet

If you’re more of a health nut and prefer the natural option above medical options, there is a solution for you and your dog. Although there is no evidence that the following ingredients or food works as a dewormer prevention technique, it is proven to help with health-related issues. 

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Chopped raw carrots
  • Coconut
  • Turmeric
  • Chamomile tea
  • Kefir

Other natural ingredients can be found in unique dog recipes across the web, as some human food is safe for dogs and their health. 

Dog Worm Treatment and Care

Even with preventative measures, your dog can still contact worms anywhere, whether they ate dirt at the dog park, hunted another animal, or you brought in another puppy or kitten who had them. It is not always possible to completely prevent worm ingestion, and luckily there are many treatment options. 

  • Bi-weekly vet visits until six months of age
  • Monthly checkups until one year
  • Yearly checkups until death
  • Regular and seasonal flea and worm treatment
  • A healthy diet and exercise routine

How Often Does a Dog Need to be Dewormed?

Puppies can develop a parasite problem right from birth, so it’s best to get them deworming treatment right from the beginning. Continue the deworming process every two weeks or monthly (depending on your vet) for at least six months of age. 

When Does Deworming Treatment Stop?

Once deworming treatment has started, continue feeding your dog their special diet into adulthood monthly. Treatment can stop after six months; however, it is best to continue treatment for the rest of their life twice a year in the fall and the spring. Since dogs can contract worms through fleas, talk to your vet about a deflea/wormer all-in-one treatment plan. 

Keep Your Dog Safe From Worms

Regardless of how hard you try to prevent worms and parasites from coming into contact with your animals, in most cases, it’s irrelevant. The best thing you can do is practice good hygiene for all family members (including other pets).

Natural methods are not to take the place of your vet’s advice but rather be used to help your pet stay healthy – not used when they require help. Since worms are contagious for the whole family, safety measures need to be taken to find out your dog has developed a worm infestation. Continue visiting your vet to practice the best pet health in your home.