Many types of worms can affect your dog. These not only include the dreaded heartworm, but also roundworms, tapeworms, and others. How can you tell if your dog has worms? There are specific things you can look for.
Here’s some information on indications that your pooch might have a problem, as well as the kinds of worms in dogs. You’ll also learn some ways you can prevent this problem from occurring.
Symptoms of Worms
If you carefully watch your dog, you will usually be able to tell if they have a worm issue. These are some of the symptoms that will let you know you need to get your pup to the vet:
1. Worms in Stool
The next time you pick up after your pet, take a look at your dog’s stool to see if you can see worms. This won’t be a pleasant task, of course, but it’s important that you do it from time to time. Roundworms will be the most obvious. They will be cream or white in color and look somewhat like spaghetti.1 Tapeworms, on the other hand, will look similar to small grains of rice.2 A heartworm will not be visible in the stool, because it is not passed through the intestines.
2. Intestinal Issues
If your dog is vomiting on a regular basis, or has diarrhea, a worm infestation could be to blame. The same holds true if your pet is suddenly losing weight or has a lack of an appetite. Take your pet to a veterinarian for a thorough examination. They’re highly trained to diagnose all kinds of worms in dogs.3
3. Weakness or Lethargy
A worm infestation may cause weakness or lethargy in your pup. Your dog might not show an interest in the activities they normally love, such as playing or taking a walk around the neighborhood.4 Again, get them to the vet for a checkup.
4. Stunted Growth
If your puppy isn’t growing the way they should, worms may be robbing them of the nutrients they need to thrive.5
5. Scooting on the Ground
Sometimes, a dog with an infestation of tapeworms will scoot on the floor. This is because the worms are causing an extreme amount of itching.6If your pup starts doing this, check their bottom for worms. Even if you can’t see any physical evidence of worms, it’s best to let the vet take a look.
6. Puppy Pot Belly
A puppy with a pot belly could have roundworms in their intestines. If your puppy’s coat is dull, that’s another potential sign of a roundworm problem.7
7. Difficulty Breathing
Trouble breathing or frequent coughing can be a sign that your dog has roundworms. These issues are occurring because of roundworm larvae in the respiratory system.8If the coughing is soft and deep, that could be an indication of a heartworm issue.9 Whatever the case, if your pup is showing signs of breathing problems, including frequent coughing, it’s time for a trip to the vet.
8. Bloody Stool
A dog passing tarry, bloody stools could have hookworms.10Bloody stools can also be a sign of colitis – an inflammation of the intestinal wall. This is sometimes caused by a whipworm infestation.11
Types of Dog Worms
Unfortunately, dogs are susceptible to worm infestations. Most of these will be relatively minor, unless the dog has a weakened immune system, or if an infestation is severe. Here are just some of the more common types of worms in dogs:
Whipworms will usually reside in a dog’s large intestine. A heavy infestation can lead to inflammation of the intestinal wall. Whipworm infections can be tough to diagnose because the female worms only lay eggs periodically. A veterinarian may have to take multiple fecal samples in order to obtain a definitive diagnosis.12
Tapeworms usually infect a dog through lice or fleas. These worms usually live in the small intestine of your pet, taking nutrients that they need.13
Hookworms are especially common in puppies. They can even infect a puppy while they are still in the womb. It’s very common for a hookworm infestation to occur within the first month or two after the puppy is born. Like tapeworms, hookworms live in the small intestine. But they can be even more dangerous because they ingest a puppy’s blood. If an infestation is severe enough, a puppy could suffer life-threatening anemia.14
This is the most common type of worm that affects dogs. Most puppies have this worm. They either get them before they are born, or through the milk of the mother.15
The heartworm is probably the most dangerous type of parasite that can affect a dog. Mosquitoes carry these worms, and they infect dogs through a bite. A heartworm infestation can be fatal. Not only do heartworms cause heart problems, they can also affect your dog’s kidney and liver.16
How to Prevent Worms in Dogs
Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to help minimize the severity of an infestation. A veterinarian can give your pet a vaccination to help prevent a heartworm infestation, for example. There are other things you can do at home to help protect your pet from serious worm-related problems.
Make sure you pick up “pet poops” from your yard regularly. This will help reduce the chances that worms will move from your dog’s feces to the soil and potentially cause another infestation at a later date. You should also take your pet to the veterinarian for regular fecal examinations to make sure no worms are present.
You can also help boost your pet’s immune system with high quality, natural foods, as well as supplements. The stronger the dog’s immune system, the less of a chance they’ll suffer severe problems due to worms.17
Wrapping it Up
It’s challenging to keep your dog completely protected from worms. But being aware of the symptoms of a potential infestation can go a long way toward making sure your pet won’t suffer serious health problems. Taking some preventative steps, and having your dog checked regularly by your vet, will also help.