Worms in Dogs – What You Need to Know !
10 April, 2017
worms in dogs

The idea of worms is very unpleasant for dog owners.  Contrary to popular belief, some low levels of worms can actually help your dog build an immunity to them. Of course, if the infestation reaches a level to where your dog becomes very sick, veterinary care will be needed right away.  The good news is that almost all worms can be detected by a vet and treated with medication.

Symptoms of worms in dogs

While each parasite affects dogs differently, there are some general symptoms that intestinal worms may cause:

Diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, vomiting, poor fur appearance and bloated belly.

Below are the five different types of worms that your dog could possibly have:

Heartworms

Of all of the kinds of worms in dogs, the most dangerous, yet the most preventable, are heartworms. Mosquitoes transmit the parasite and since avoiding mosquitoes is nearly impossible, vets recommend regular heartworm preventatives to keep your dog safe. Heartworms grow and multiply within the heart, ultimately leading to death if left untreated.

Heartworm Disease in dogs is usually accompanied by respiratory symptoms like coughing, exercise intolerance, weak pulse, weight loss, and in extreme cases labored breathing, pale gums, and death.

Roundworms

Roundworms are some of the most common intestinal worms in dogs. Roundworms in puppies can also be transmitted to humans, making it a human, as well as animal, health concern. Many puppies are born with roundworms, which is why it is so important that your newborn puppies receive appropriate veterinary care. Roundworms are diagnosed by a fecal sample and are treated with deworming medications. If left untreated, roundworms can lead to poor growth and death in severe cases.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms are an intestinal parasite that dogs acquire by if they eat fleas or by being in contact with animals infested with tapeworms or fleas. If your vet thinks your dog has tapeworms, he or she will probably ask for a fecal sample to look for eggs or segments of tapeworms in your dog’s poop. Your vet will then prescribe a treatment regimen for your dog to eliminate the tapeworms from his system.

Hookworms

Hookworms are intestinal parasites that cause anemia in dogs and can be fatal in puppies, if left untreated. There are several different kinds of hookworms that can affect dogs, but all feed on your dog’s blood.  Your dog can get hookworms from ingesting hookworm larvae from the environment or the infected larvae can pass from a mother’s milk to her puppies. Hookworms are diagnosed by fecal floats and are treated with deworming medications.

Whipworms

Whipworms are a type of worm in dogs that lives in the large intestine and colon, where they pass their eggs into the dog’s feces. The eggs can survive for up to five years in suitable environments (warm and moist), which is one of the reasons why cleaning up after your dog immediately is so important for general sanitation and health.

Whipworms don’t necessarily cause symptoms in mild cases, but in severe cases they can lead to inflammation, weight loss, diarrhea, and occasionally anemia. Your veterinarian can diagnose your dog for whipworms with a fecal sample and will prescribe a treatment plan suitable to your dog’s needs.

Prevention of intestinal worm

Prevention is definitely the best approach for all types of worms.  Make sure you have your dog checked for worms once a year (remember, you can’t always see the worms if you examine the stool yourself).

If your dog has been infected, over-the-counter worm medications aren’t always the best solutions. Many are effective only against one kind of parasite and require repeat treatments over a long period of time–it all depends on the worm and the level of infestation, as well as the age and general health of your dog.  Your vet can give you the best treatment for the specific type of worm and for most cases, oral medications will do the job.

Worms in dogs can be a serious issue, which is why it is important to be aware of the symptoms, prevention methods, and treatment options available. Worms are yucky and a health risk so always make sure to call your vet if you think your dog has worms.

If you want to know about worms in cats, take a look at our article on Heartworm Disease in Cats.

 

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