Dog Worms - Symptoms and Treatment

Keep your dog healthy by educating yourself about dog worms. Here is information about dog worms along with its signs, symptoms and treatment to help you do just that.
| Thursday, September 11, 2008

If you are a dog lover, I am sure you would like to do everything to ensure that your precious dog is always healthy. You can take the first step by collecting knowledge about things that may make your dog ill. One such problem is dog worms. There are basically 5 types of dog worms, namely roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms and heartworms. The symptoms of each of these worms may be slightly different from the other as also their treatment. Here is information that will help you recognize the presence of dog worms so that you can seek medication on time and ensure that your dog is fine!

Common Symptoms of Dog Worm Infestation

  • Loss in weight
  • Loss in appetite
  • A pot-bellied appearance
  • Pale lips
  • Foul breath
  • Coughing
  • Low level of energy
  • Rough and dry coat
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Types of Dog Worms

Tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum)

The tapeworm is so named because it has a flat, long and tape-like appearance. Similar to roundworms, tapeworms are visible to the naked eye. This worm can be found in broken pieces in the dog’s fecal matter. Despite the fact that it is broken, it can be found still moving around in the dog’s stool, anus or bed. Dogs often get tapeworms from infected fleas and can transmit the worm directly to human beings. In case of severe tapeworm infestation the symptoms are nervousness, vomiting, loss of weight, pain in the abdomen and severe itching in the area around the anus. Dog tapeworm treatment is possible with prescription dog worm medicine that is either administered by injection or orally.

Roundworms (Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonine)

Roundworms are of two types, Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonine. Roundworms are dog worms that affect the intestines and are the cause of a pot-bellied appearance in dogs and puppies, though mostly puppies. Generally puppies get infected with roundworms before they are born, through the mother’s uterus or the ingestion of an animal that has been affected or even soil. When a dog has ingested the soil, the eggs enter its intestines and hatch there. It is there that roundworms live and grow. Once fully grown, these roundworms produce more eggs in the intestines.

Roundworms are able to grow to about 7 inches in length and look like spaghetti. These dog worms can be found in your dog’s vomit or stool. If this dog worm infestation is not treated on time it can cause death. Some of the symptoms caused by this dog worm are diarrhea, vomiting, dullness of the dog’s coat, loss in weight and a pot-bellied appearance. This dog worm is contagious and is usually transmitted through soil that has been infected. To stay healthy, it is thus advisable to wash your hands regularly. Treatment for roundworm involves the administering of dog worm medication orally. This is later followed up with fecal exams as well as monthly heartworm medication.

Hookworms (Ancylostoma caninium)

Hookworms are dog worms that live in the intestines and are contagious, very much like roundworms. A hookworm is a small and thin worm that hooks itself onto the walls of the intestine and sucks blood from its prey, thus eventually causing anemia and death. Hookworms also possess sharp teeth, which causes intestinal bleeding! Unlike tapeworms and roundworms, hookworms cannot be seen with the naked eye; only a vet can diagnose it. Transfer of hookworms is done before the puppy is born or through her breast milk. Symptoms caused by this dog worm are anemia, loss in weight, pale gums, diarrhea, low energy level and bloody stool.

Humans can also become infected by hookworms by the simple act of walking barefoot on soil that has been infected. Once hookworms find their way into the human body they can cause intestinal bleeding along with other problems like pain in the abdomen and diarrhea. Vets treat hookworms with the use of oral medication, intravenous treatment, a follow-up fecal exam and in some cases, a blood transfusion. Since hookworm infestation can turn fatal, it is very important to visit the vet regularly and keep up with all the exams and veterinary visits.

Whipworms (Trichuris vulpis)

Long and thin dog worms are called whipworms. These dog worms live in the colon of the dog and cannot be seen with the naked eye. Whipworms cause bleeding in the intestines since they attach themselves to the walls of the intestine and live off them. Anemia, loss in weight, diarrhea, mucus and blood in the stool and weight loss are a few of the common symptoms of this dog worm infestation.

Whipworms can best be treated by using prescription medications. The treatment for whipworms usually takes about 5 days and is usually also repeated after 3 weeks. Once this dog worm treatment is complete, ask your vet for advice about heartworm medication.

Heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis)

This kind of dog worm is spread by mosquitoes during the long warm months when they are most active. Mosquitoes spread this disease when they become infected from biting dogs that have it. Heartworms have the potential of turning fatal if left untreated, since they destroy the tissue and muscle of the heart which eventually leads to congestive heart failure and then death. When dogs reach this stage, they experience signs of worms like coughing, dullness of their coat, a pot belly and loss of energy.

Since there are no early symptoms of this dog worm, it is advisable to begin your dog on heartworm preventative medicine. Do consult your pet before you do so.

How to Prevent Dog Worms

  • Avoid feeding your dog raw fish or meat.
  • Pick up your dog’s feces when you take your dog for a walk in the park. This will help prevent soil contamination as well as the transfer of many other dog related diseases.
  • Check your dog for fleas since they spread tapeworms.
  • Spray your dog’s area with a strong saltwater solution whenever you clean it. This act will help prevent worms.
  • While taking your dog out for a walk, keep it away from feces. This should be done because feces are the most common cause of dog worm infestation.
  • Consult your vet before going traveling with your dog.
  • Try not to expose your dog to birds, dead rodents and stray animals since they sometimes conceal immature tapeworms that may later mature inside your dog’s body.
  • To spot tapeworms, inspect your dog’s anus as well as feces. Tapeworms can easily be spotted as they resemble white rice grains.
  • If you want to make doubly sure that your dog is free from worms, have your dog’s feces checked by a vet once or twice a year.
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