how to know if your dog has worms

How to Know If Your Dog Has Worms

One of the most common health issues that dogs experience is worm infestation. Thankfully, most of these cases on worms are easy to treat. The important thing is for you, the dog owner, to watch out for signs that your beloved pooch has some parasites in its body.

dog on table

Types of Worms in Dogs 

Various worms can be the cause of infestation in dogs, and each type would have different symptoms and will cause a variety of health problems.

  1. Roundworms 

This type of worms can actually grow as big as six inches long. They normally live in the dog’s intestines, showing up as tiny bits that look like noodles in the dog’s feces. They will also be a reason why your pet’s stomach looks big and swollen. Puppies are especially at risk for roundworm issues.

  1. Hookworms 

In comparison to roundworms, hookworms are small and thin. They also live in the intestines, biting or “hooking” into the intestinal wall, as their name suggests. Unfortunately, they are invisible to the naked eye. When left untreated, they can cause internal bleeding, which will manifest in anemia or bloody stool.

  1. Tapeworms 

Another type of worm that stays in the intestines, tapeworms are long and flat. Over time, parts of the worm break off and can be seen when they become dry as they look like rice grains.

  1. Heartworms 

Heartworms are very dangerous and worse, they are almost impossible to detect. This type of worm is spread through a mosquito bite. The larvae then mature and group together at the dog’s heart. Until then, there are no signs or symptoms of their presence inside your pet’s body. Soon after, fatal heart damage can occur. It is important to look out for the signs of heartworm infestation which includes severe weight loss, fainting, weakness, coughing while exercising, coughing out blood and congestive heart failure.

  1. Whipworms 

These worms are so thin that they seem just like thread. They can also be found in the large intestine. While adults can be seen even with the naked eye, they do not normally appear in the dog’s feces so dog owners might not detect them. To fully diagnose an infestation, it is necessary to analyze several fecal samples under a microscope. They are treatable, but whipworms are among the most difficult worms to get rid of.

It is important to know how these worms are spread in order to prevent your dog from getting infected. The first way is through the mother, by which the worms can be transmitted to the newborn puppies through birth or even through drinking the milk of the mother dog. Worse, roundworm eggs can be present in the mother’s body as dormant cysts which become activated when the dog gets pregnant.

Another way they spread is through the dirt, where they live until a dog gets into contact with them. Fleas can also transmit worms when dogs swallow them during grooming. Lastly, wildlife can carry worms so when dogs accompany their humans hunting, they become infested when they touch infected wildlife.

Related Post: 5 Signs Your Dog Has Fleas

dog laying on table

Signs that Your Dog May Have Worms Include

  1. Visible Worms or Eggs 

The most common sign of a worm infestation is seeing worms or eggs in the dog’s feces. However, as not all types of worms are visible without the need for a microscope, not seeing them does not necessarily mean your dog does not have problems with worms.

Worms can also be seen in the dog’s fur or in the butt. They may be small, like tapeworms, so you might only see some small things moving and eventually drying out, looking like small rice grains. Worms can also be seen when the dog vomits.

  1. Rear Scratching or Rubbing 

Your dog might be infected when it keeps on scratching its bottom on the floor or even against your furniture. But itchiness might also be a sign of something else.

  1. Bloated Belly

 When puppies get infected by worms from their mother, the most common sign is a bloated stomach.

  1. Digestive and Nutrition Issues 

Worms steal what the dogs eat, which can manifest in various digestive and nutrition problems. They might seem hungrier than normal or even hungry all the time and still losing weight. Your dog might also seem weak.

The presence of worms in your dog’s body can really affect its health and unfortunately, it is unable to tell you when it feels bad or suffers from this infestation. As dog owners, it is your responsibility to be aware of these signs and to watch out for the symptoms. Once you suspect a problem, your vet can help determine if there is truly an issue with worms and can start treatment of your pooch.

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  1. Leslie Gillette, DVM, How to Tell If Your Dog Has Worms, PetMD
  2. Lisa Maciorakowski, DVM, Intestinal Parasites in Dogs and Cats, The MSPCA–Angell
  3. OMG. What’s in My Dog’s Poo?, Animal Humane Society

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Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.