Worms can cause a large number of different health conditions and issues in our canine companions, which is why deworming should be a regular part of a dog’s medical and healthcare plans. But how do dogs get worms? And how to find out if your dog has worms?
In order to understand this, let’s talk about the kinds of worms that dogs can get, how they come to be inside a dog’s system, and what to do about them.
The 6 Type Of Worms A Dog Can Get
Known as ascarids, roundworms live inside a dog’s intestines and feed on them. They appear almost like spaghetti and are light brown or white in colour, measuring only a few inches in length.
Roundworms are typically contracted from a parent dog to their puppies, as a mother dog who has these worms may pass them on to her puppy before they are born.
Puppies may also become infected with roundworms from drinking their infected mother’s milk.
Dogs may also develop roundworms from eating their eggs, which are often found in the excrement of other dogs.
The eggs consumed hatch, forming larvae that spread and crawl, making their way up a dog’s windpipe through their liver.
This causes a dog to cough to larvae up and swallow them, and from there, they find their way to the intestines. The roundworms mature and lay their own eggs, and the cycle continues.
Symptoms Of Roundworms Include:
- Dull fur coat
- Weight loss
- Bulging or pot belly
- Stomach pain
- Weakness or tiredness
- Worms visible in vomit or poop
In order for roundworms to be diagnosed, a stool sample from your dog needs to be examined by a vet.
Treatment for roundworms usually uses one of the many kinds of deworming drugs that are safe and easy to use. The first few doses will kill adult roundworms and following doses will get rid of underdeveloped ones.
Roundworms spread and multiply very easily – one can lay 85,000 eggs daily – so prevention is incredibly important.
Often, vets deworm young puppies because of how common these worms are to be safe, and even a dewormed dog should be regularly checked for roundworms.
We would recommend deworming your dog before they even turn 3 weeks old.
To reduce roundworm risk, you should make sure your dog’s living environment is always clean and that their faecal matter is always quickly disposed of.
You should also try to keep your dog away from smaller wild animals like squirrels who may carry the worms. Talk to a vet about regular deworming and faecal exams.
Heartworms are very difficult and expensive to cure and treat, but very easy and crucial to preventing. The worms are transmitted through a bite from a mosquito that has been infected with heartworm larvae.
There is no other way to transmit heartworms to a dog. Symptoms of heartworm take a while to show up, but once they do, you may notice some of the following:
Symptoms Of Heartworms Include:
- Shortness of breath
- Inability to exercise
- Loud breathing
Most dogs, when not treated after developing heartworm disease, will pass away. Heartworm causes crowded of the lungs and heart, and more severe heartworm disease can lead to loss of blood flow to the brain and fluid retention.
Heartworms are diagnosed through extensive blood work, X-rays, and other tests that determine the severity of the infection. The dog will then be given injectable drugs to kill adult heartworms in the heart.
The worms will begin to die slowly and break apart into small pieces which may potentially block pulmonary vessels. In order to prevent this from causing fatalities, dogs must be kept and quiet and calm post-treatment.
Preventing heartworm is as simple as paying an inexpensive amount for preventative care. This can come in the form of bi-annual injections or monthly medications in the form of pills or topical products.
Tapeworms appear as flat and white, and their bodies are segmented into tiny parts measuring approximately the size of one rice grain.
They stick to the walls of a dog’s intestines with suckers that resemble hooks and usually measure around 4 to 8 inches in length.
Tapeworms come in a number of kinds, but the kind you will want to worry about the most is the one that has fleas carrying its larvae.
A dog that grooms itself and accidentally swallows a flea that is infected can cause the larvae to take root in the gut and grow.
Symptoms Of Tapeworms Include:
- Visible segments in poop
- Visible moving segments on a dog’s behind or bedding
- Hard, yellow spots sticking to a dog’s behind
- Itching on the backside
- Weight loss
- Vomit (rarely)
- Visible worms in vomit (rarely)
Tapeworm is diagnosed once these tapeworm segments are spotted on the dog or in a dog’s faecal matter. The latter form of diagnosis may take a few samples.
Treatment usually comes in the form of prescription drugs provided in an injection or pill form. These medications dissolve tapeworms and kill them off fairly quickly.
To reduce the risk of your dog contracting tapeworms, make sure your dog is on a de-worming plan and is given check-ups and treatments regularly.
Since tapeworms are commonly gotten from fleas, make sure you take good flea prevention and control steps to reduce their numbers. A vet can prescribe flea prevention options for you.
You should also make sure your dog doesn’t wander around unsupervised where other animals often are, and make sure you are always cleaning up after your dog at home or when you go out.
Contrary to popular belief, ringworm is not a result of an actual worm. Instead, it is a highly contagious variety of fungus.
Dogs can get ringworm from animals that are infected with it or from items – like dishes, bedding, and toys – where infected fur or scales are present. In spots like kennels or shelters, ringworm can spread very quickly.
Symptoms Of Ringworm Include:
- Lesions on head, paws, ears, and limbs
- Patchy bald spots
- Bald spots with reddish centres
- Broken hairs
Do note that some dogs may not actually display any symptoms but still carry ringworm. If your dog seems to show any signs of a skin condition, bring them to the vet.
Diagnosis of ringworm is done in a number of ways. Fur may be looked at under a microscope or a culture of infected areas may be taken.
A vet may also diagnose through the use of a Wood’s lamp, which is a kind of ultraviolet light, to take a close look at a pup’s fur.
Treatment differs depending on the severity of the ringworm infection. Ointments, shampoos, or dips that contain miconazole or lime sulfur can kill off the ringworm fungus.
Your dog may also be given tablets or pills, or you may be instructed to use a mix of oral medications and topical ones in more severe cases.
You should start noticing healing in one to three weeks but do not stop treatment until your vet tells you to.
There’s no surefire way to prevent ringworm. Try to keep your dog’s bedding and toys all very clean and keep them away from infected animals.
Hookworms are potentially fatal parasites that suck blood and invade the small intestines of a dog. Blood is sucked through bite sites and even larvae can cause anaemia or intestinal inflation.
These worms are usually contracted through the ingestion of contaminated water that contains hookworm eggs or larvae, but they can also penetrate the skin in an infected environment.
Puppies may also ingest hookworms through feeding on their mothers if their mothers already have hookworms.
Some Symptoms Of Hookworms Include:
- Lack of appetite
- Dark stools
- Pale linings of lips, ears, and/or nostrils
- The general appearance of unhealthiness
Hookworms can very quickly and suddenly become fatal for dogs, especially in puppies or in cases where the worms move to infect the lungs. It’s important to recognize symptoms early for this reason.
In order for hookworms to be diagnosed, a stool sample from your dog needs to be examined under a microscope by a vet.
This will determine the kind of treatment needed. Usually, medication is used to expel or kill the existing hookworms.
This medication is also sometimes given alongside nutritional supplements. Treatment should be performed for as long as necessary to eradicate all worms and larvae.
In more serious worm infestations, the dog may require hospitalization, blood transfusions, fluid therapy, or even oxygen supplementation. This is because more advanced larvae can cause anaemia and other issues.
To reduce the risk of your dog developing hookworm, the environment they live in should be kept clean and accumulated water in that surrounding area should be thrown out or replaced as needed.
Whipworms are extremely easy to contract on accident. They can live virtually anywhere and may exist in food, water, soil, excrement, or flesh.
Most dogs who develop whipworm contract it from consuming things that are infected with whipworm eggs, but they may also catch them from other infected animals.
Symptoms Of Whipworm Include:
- Bloody diarrhoea
- Bowel inflammation
- Weight loss
- Visible whipworm eggs
Do note that some dogs do not show clear symptoms of whipworm, so be on the lookout for whipworm eggs in your dog’s stools.
Diagnosis is typically done through an examination of a faecal sample.
Most treatment for whipworm involves using medications that kill both adult worms and larvae, and check-ups will be performed to ensure no more eggs reside within the dog’s body.
Prevention of whipworm is fairly simple: make sure the environment your dog lives in is clean and try to keep them from spending too much time in crowded spaces with other animals.
You can also speak to a vet about possible preventative medication. I hope we helped you in finding out how do dogs get worms.