Dogs of every age, breed, and lifestyle are at risk of getting worms. Most worms are invisible to the human eye and can only be detected with a fecal exam at your veterinarian's office. Today, our Edgewater vets discuss the types of worms dogs can get, their signs, and how they can be treated.
Worms in Dogs
It's always frightening to think about our beloved dogs becoming infected with worms, but it's critical to understand the symptoms of worms and how to prevent them. When dogs come into contact with contaminated feces or soil, they can become infected. Some worms can even be passed on to humans.
If worms go untreated they can lead to a variety of dangerous conditions such as internal organ damage, loss of consciousness, and death.
Here we discuss the ways dogs can get worms, the common types of worms, and how they can be treated.
How Dogs Get Worms
There are many ways dogs can get worms. Usually, dogs get infected by ingesting or eating a substance that has been contaminated with microscopic parasitic eggs such as feces, soil, raw meat, prey animals, or external parasites (such as fleas during grooming).
An infected mother can even pass worms onto her puppies either through birth or by feeding them milk.
By coming into contact with contaminated stool or soil, a dog can also contract certain types of worms (such as hookworms) through their skin. The worms can then burrow into your puppy's skin. This makes it critical to always pick up your dog's poop because you could endanger the other dogs in your neighborhood.
The Types of Worms
Here are the types of worms that can infect dogs:
This worm is flat and segmented, and it lives in your dog's intestines. Tapeworms can be transmitted to dogs through the consumption of infected fleas or the consumption of infected wild animals. Tapeworm eggs hatch and attach to the dog's intestinal lining after being consumed. The most common type of tapeworm in the United States is Dipylidium caninum, which can be transmitted to dogs by fleas.
One way you can tell if your dog has tapeworms is by checking their stool, this type of worm can pass through their feces and look like tiny pieces of rice. Your dog may also scoot, rubbing its butt along the ground. If you notice your dog exhibiting either of these signs, call your vet to schedule a fecal examination.
There are two types of roundworms a dog can get, Toxocara canis (T. canis) and Toxascaris leonina, and they are some of the most common worms among dogs. However, T. canis is most common in puppies. They can also be transmitted to humans.
Puppies are frequently born with roundworms from their mothers. As a result, it is critical that new puppies receive the necessary level of veterinary care. Because roundworms have hard shells that can survive on soil for years, dogs can pick up this parasite from their surroundings. Roundworm eggs can pass through a dog's stool, reinfesting the animal or transmitting the worm to another dog.
After it has been ingested the larva emerges from the egg, and makes its way to the lungs where it is coughed up, swallowed, and enters the small intestine where it matures.
This type of worm is diagnosed with a fecal exam and can often be treated with deworming medication provided by your veterinarian.
Whipworms live in a dog's cecum, which is the start of the large intestine. Dogs can get this worm from ingesting contaminated substances including feces, water, soil, or animal flesh.
It can be difficult to tell if your dog has whipworms because dogs rarely exhibit symptoms until their condition has progressed. In severe cases, dogs may experience weight loss, inflammation, diarrhea, and, on rare occasions, anemia.
Since dogs don't usually show any signs of whipworms in their early stages, it's very important to bring a sample of your dog's stool to the vet regularly for fecal exams.
Hookworms are seen more often in dogs than in cats and pose a serious threat to the health of canines. They attach to the walls of a dog's intestine and drink large amounts of blood. These worms can cause anemia and potentially death if they go too long without treatment. This parasite can also be passed on to humans.
Hookworms can infect dogs through their environment, where the worms can burrow into their skin or ingest them through infected soil. Puppies can also contract it from their mother's milk if she is infected. Infected animals can pass hundreds of microscopic eggs through their stool, and when they hatch, they can survive on soil for months, but they are so small that they cannot be seen.
Vets can diagnose hookworms through fecal floatation, where a sample of your dog's stool is combined with a solution that makes the worm eggs float to the top.
Symptoms of Worms in Dogs
Dogs can show various signs of worms, depending on which kind they have, we've listed the most common ones below:
- Abdominal Pain
- Bloated Stomach
- Poor Coat Appearance
- Worms in Stool
If your dog shows any of the signs above call your vet immediately to schedule an examination.
How To Get Rid of Your Dogs Worms
Most of the time a microscopic examination of your dog's feces needs to be performed in order to determine if your dog has worms. If your pooch is exhibiting any signs of having worms, your veterinarian will ask you to bring in a sample of your dog's stool to perform a fecal examination. In the event your dog isn't showing any symptoms, it's always best to have a fecal exam conducted by your veterinarian at least once a year because some worms will show no signs in the early stages.
Deworming medications can usually be prescribed by your veterinarian to alleviate your dog's symptoms. There are various types of deworming medications available, and the type used by your veterinarian will be determined by the type of worms your dog has.
We also recommend providing your dog with prevention products to help keep your dog from getting parasites in the first place.
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.