Symptoms of Worms in Dogs – What To Look Out For And How To Treat It
Are you worried that your dog might have worms, but do not know what the symptoms of worms in dogs are? If you’ve had your dog for any reasonable length of time, you would be very lucky if your dog had not had a bout of worms at some point.
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Worms are a very common issue with dogs. Despite it being common, if left untreated, worms can be very dangerous for your dog. And of course your dog could feel ill and uncomfortable, which is the last thing you would want.
So here, we’ll list the main symptoms of worms in dogs you need to look out for, how to treat your loved pet, and also how to prevent your dog getting worms in the future.
There Are Five Type of Worms That Commonly Affect Dogs
Before we jump into the common symptoms of worms in dogs, we first need to understand what kind of worms a dog could have. Below are five common types of worms that could affect dogs.
Tapeworms – This type of worm is caused by your dog eating pests that are infected by tapeworm, or from your dog licking themselves when grooming and ingesting fleas that contain tapeworm eggs. This type of worm usually infects dogs with flea infestations, or hunting dogs. This is one of the easiest worms to spot as your dog’s faeces will resemble grains of rice. These worms attach themselves to your dog’s intestines, where they absorb some of the nutrients from your dog’s food, and therefore can cause malnutrition in your dog. A tablet or injection can kill tapeworms. Humans also get tapeworms, but this is not usually from an infected pet. If you like to know more about tapeworms, read this article.
Roundworms – Roundworms are basically worms the live and feed inside your dog’s intestines. Most dogs will have some roundworm at some stage of their lives. You can usually spot if your dog has roundworms by looking at their poop (or their vomit If they are throwing up). If you see light brown or white things that look like spaghetti that are a few inches long, chances are that it is roundworm. Roundworms are quite common and puppies are usually at most risk of getting the worms and becoming sick from it. A puppy can usually get the worms from their mother, either while they are still in the whom or even by drinking her milk. Other ways your dog might get roundworms is by eating poop that has roundworm eggs in it, or eating smaller animals (such as mice) that are infected with roundworm. Take note that roundworms can be transmitted to humans through contact of faeces or contaminated soil. If you want to read more about roundworms, read this article.
Heartworms – This type of worm is mainly spread by mosquitos, so you need to keep in mind where you live. Areas where there are a high chance of your dog being infected by heartworm in the USA are Midwestern and Southeastern states, and along the Atlantic coast. This worm is often the hardest to diagnose as the infection process is slow, and your dog will show only minor and very subtle symptoms until the infection passes onto a more advanced stage. Once it infects it host, it lives in the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs, as well as the heart itself. Symptoms include your dog coughing a lot and having problems breathing, amongst other symptoms. At an advanced stage, heartworms will affect how your dog’s heart works and cause blood clots, which could be fatal. Treatment is usually two to three arsenic-based drugs injected into your dog, and then around a month of rest. If you would like to know more about heartworms, read this article.
Hookworms and Whipworms– These types of worm propagate in wet or damp soil. Therefore, if your dog is kept on grass runs, and even more so in humid, warm environments. These types of worms are much more common in dogs that stay in kennels where they have access to communal grassy areas. Adult dogs are usually infected when they are cleaning themselves, or through their skin. A very unpleasant type of worm, it will live mainly in the small intestine of your dog and sucks the blood from their host. Once infected, your dog will feel weak and malnourished. As with roundworm, this worm can also pass from mother to pup, and it can lead to the death of puppies. A couple of rounds of deworming medicine will usually do the trick, but if you have a puppy, they may need further treatment. It’s worth noting that humans can also get hookworms, but that’s usually from eating unwashed vegetables, or walking on damp soil or sand barefoot. If you would like to know more about hookworms, read this article, and if you want to know more about whipworms, read this article.
So What Are The Common Symptoms of Worms In Dogs?
So no that we know what kind of worms can affect our beloved dog, we can start looking at the symptoms of worms in dogs:
Symptoms of Worms In Dogs - Checklist
- Diarrhea – Loose, soft stools can be a symptom of your dog having worms. If there is blood in your dog’s stools, this could be a sign of hookworms.
- Vomiting – Your dog vomiting may be a symptom of worms. Check the vomit, as roundworms can actually be vomited up by your dog.
- Lethargy – Dogs infected with worms tend to appear overly tired. Has your normally active and sprightly dog lost its energy?
- Coughing – This can be an advanced stage symptom of heartworms, as these worms infect the artery taking blood from the heart to the lungs. Coughing can also develop in dogs who have roundworms or hookworms.
- Weight loss – Keep an eye out for your dog losing weight rapidly. Fast weight loss can be a sign that your dog has tapeworm or whipworm.
- Dull coat – If your dog’s coat, which should normally be shiny and thick, starts to become dull and dry, start losing their hair, or develop a rash, they may have worms.
- Sudden increase in appetite – This can be a symptom of roundworms, as this parasite feeds on the nutrients in your dog’s food, which means your dog is not getting all the nutrients it needs.
- Lack of appetite – The opposite can also be true, as dogs who suddenly lose their appetite may also have worms.
- Developing a pot-belly – This is much more common in puppies than adult dogs. If your dog looks bloated, or has developed a pot-belly, they may have worms. If you spot this in a puppy, there is a good chance it has picked it up from its mother.
- Itching skin – If your dog is constantly itching itself, there could be quite a severe infestation of worms.
- Worms seen visually on faeces or fur – Roundworms can be seen in dog stools, as can tapeworms. Tapeworms may also be spotted as small moving worms in your dog’s fur, or around their anus.
- Rubbing bottom on ground – A dog infected with worms may find their anus extremely itchy, and will try to rub their bottoms on the ground to relieve this itching.
Treatment For The Symptoms Of Worms in Dogs, and Prevention To Stop Future Infections
It is good knowing what symptoms of worms in dogs to look out for, but what can we do about it? Below we list some possible actions to take if you notice symptoms in your dog:
- No one dewormer will get rid of all types of worms, so try to find out what kind of worms your dog has using the above information. If in doubt, check with a vet, who will be able to ascertain the type of worm infection.
- Products effective on roundworms, hookworms and whipworms (worms that are round in shape) are not usually effective on tapeworms (which are flat shaped), and vice versa.
- Treatments can come in many different types, depending on the type of worm infection your dog has. Medications are available as capsules, tablets, chewable tablets, liquids, granules and topical creams.
- If symptoms persist, consult your vet as soon as you can.
Our Pick - The Best Dog Dewormer Options
If your dog is feeling really sick and you are worried about your dog, you should definitely take it to the vet to get it properly diagnosed. However, if you want to treat a mild case of worms there are dewormers available to buy over-the-counter. When looking for a dewormer, make sure you get the right options to suit your dog's size and that will be effective for the specific type of worm that your dog has.
Merck Animal Health Panacur C Canine De-Wormer
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This dewormer helps treat hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. Treatment using this dewormer is to give your dog one packet of powder each day, for three days. You can mix the powder in with some dogfood to make it easier to get your dog to take it. There should not be much side-effects when your dog takes this dewormer. They might have some loose stools though.
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What I like about this dewormer is that it is a natural dewormer that does not have a bunch of chemicals in it. It contains some healthy ingredients, such as Black Walnut Green Hull, Black Seed, Sage Leaf, Fennel Seed and Papaya Leaf . This dewormer helps treat pinworm, roundworm, giardia, tapeworm, whipworm and ringworm.
Take note though that this dewormer takes a bit of time to work (usually a few weeks!).
If you also have cats, you can use this to deworm them too, which should save you some hassle and money!
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This is another powder based dewormer that you can mix in with your dog's food. It treats tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. Similar to the Panacur dewormer, this is a three day treatment and you can adjust the amount you give your dog based on their size.
Take note thought that this dewormer is only intended for dogs that are 6 weeks or older. So do not get this for a new born puppy!
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How To Prevent Symptoms of Worms in Dogs
We all would prefer having a healthy and happy dog! So what can we do to prevent the symptoms of worms in dogs? Below we list some actions you can take proactively:
- Puppies need to be dewormed as a matter of course, and not when you spot symptoms of worms. If you have a puppy from birth, start the first deworming treatment 2 weeks after birth, and then every 2 weeks till the puppy is 3 months old. After 3 months of age, deworming can be downscaled to monthly until 6 months of age, when you can deworm every 3 months.
- If you have adopted a puppy, start deworming straight away and don’t wait for 2 weeks. Then treat as above.
- For adult dogs (6 months or older) you could opt for a faecal test. We don’t recommend them though, as many of these tests will show negative results (i.e. no worms) when your dog may still be infected. Instead, opt to deworm your adult dog every 3 months as a matter of routine.
- Tapeworms are caused by fleas, so keeping your dog free of fleas is important, apart from the fact that fleas in themselves are not pleasant for dogs. There are medications that combine heartworm medication with flea treatment in one tablet. Bear in mind, though this is a good option if you know your dog is susceptible to heartworm and tapeworm, it will not help against other worms. We recommend routine use of topical flea treatments instead.
- Ensure your dog is restricted from certain environments – Try to keep your dog away from grassy, warm areas which are shared by other dogs (especially if you know these dogs are not regularly dewormed). Do not allow your dog to touch wild animals, or prey. Try to avoid humid climates that attract mosquitos (although this is easier said than done if you live in this type of climate). Lastly, do not allow your dog to eat or rub themselves in faeces left by wild animals or other dogs.
- Get into the habit of disinfecting your dog’s food and water bowls regularly. Make sure you only use disinfectant that is dog-friendly.
- Be a responsible owner and ensure you clean up after your dog, and dispose of faeces carefully.
- Always have regular check-ups with your vet. Remember, your dog may have worms and not be showing any symptoms yet, or you may have simply overlooked the symptoms. Check-ups mean your dog is seeing a professional regularly, who is well placed to spot signs before you can.
Conclusion - Symptoms of Worms In Dogs
If you notice symptoms of worms in dogs, take action! Do not wait too long hoping it will just go away. We listed some possible actions you could take to address the symptoms of worms in dogs, but if the problem persists take your dog to a professional veterinarian that can properly diagnose the symptoms and prescribe a treatment.