Dogs of every age, breed, and lifestyle are at risk of contracting worms. Most worms can't be seen by the human eye and can only be detected with a fecal exam at your veterinarian's office. Today our Santa Cruz County vets discuss the types of worms in dogs and how they can be treated.
Worms in Dogs
It's always unnerving to think about our beloved dogs becoming infected with worms, but it's very important to know the signs of worms and how to prevent them. Dogs can become infected by coming into contact with contaminated feces or soil. Some worms can even be transmitted to people.
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.
A dog can also get certain types of worms (such as hookworms) through their skin by coming into contact with contaminated stool or soil. The worms can then burrow their way into your pup's skin. This makes it very important to always pick up your dog's poop because you could be putting the other dogs in your neighborhood at risk.
The Types of Worms
Here are the types of worms that can infect dogs:
This type of worm is flat, segmented, and resides in your dog's intestines. Dogs can become infected with tapeworms by ingesting infected fleas or by eating infected wild animals. Once consumed the tapeworm eggs hatch and attach to the dog's intestinal lining. Dipylidium caninum is the most common type of tapeworm in the United States, and dogs can get them from 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 often born with roundworms because they get it from their mother. This makes it essential for new puppies to receive the appropriate level of veterinary care. Dogs can also get this parasite from their environment because roundworms have hard shells that can survive on soil for years. Roundworm eggs can pass through a dog's stool, where the animal can be reinfested, or the worm can be transmitted 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 hard to tell if your dog has whipworms because dogs don't usually show any symptoms until their condition becomes more advanced. In serious cases, dogs can develop weight loss, inflammation, diarrhea, and occasionally 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.
Dogs can get hookworms from their environment where the worms can burrow into your dog's skin or your dog can ingest them through infected soil. Puppies can also get it from drinking their mother's milk if she is infected. Infected animals can pass hundreds of microscopic eggs through their stool, and when they hatch can survive on soil for several months, however, they are so small they can't 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.
Signs 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:
- Worms in Stool
- Abdominal Pain
- Bloated Stomach
- Poor Coat Appearance
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.
Usually, your veterinarian will be able to prescribe deworming medications to help your dog's symptoms. There are different types of deworming medications available and the kind your vet uses will depend on 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.