Worms can make your dog sick, so you should get your pet treated right away. The more you know about the signs and symptoms of worms in dogs, the more easily you can go about the process of de-worming your dog. You want to get rid of this nasty parasite fast.
You might already give your pet a monthly medication to prevent parasites from infecting dogs. But, it is necessary to know about all of the different kinds of worms that can harm your dog, so that you can treat your dog for worms correctly. Your canine could be affected by roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. So, you need to know exactly what you are treating!
Does my dog have worms? If you notice that your dog is losing weight, has diarrhea, brittle fur, blood in the stool and they are sick regularly, you should seek the opinion of a vet.
The over-the-counter treatment of worms is based on the size of your dog:
- Small dogs: Sentry HC WormX Plus 7-Way Dog Dewormer
- Large dogs: Excel 8 in 1 Safe-Guard Dewormer for Large Dogs
There are so many questions that go along with canine worms, from how they are spread to how to get rid of them. The better informed you are, the more you’ll be able to protect your dog from contracting these parasites in the future. That way you can keep your other pets, and even yourself, safe from parasites. Yes, humans can be affected by dog worms, so read on!
Table of Contents:
- Why Does My Dog Have Worms Again?
- What Are the Symptoms of Worms in Dogs?
- Can a Dog Die from Having Worms?
- What Do Worms Look Like in Dog Poop?
- How Are Dog Worms Transmitted?
- Which Dog Worms are Contagious?
- Can Dog Worms Spread to Humans?
- How to De-Worm a Dog
- How Long Does It Take to Get Worms Out of a Dog?
- Can You Worm Your Dog Too Often?
- What Are the Side Effects of De-Worming a Dog?
- How to Prevent Worms in Dogs in the Future
- Are Dog Worms Common?
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Why Does My Dog Have Worms Again?
If your dog is exhibiting the symptoms and appears ill, your pet might have worms. How can they have worms again if you’re treating them for a parasite already? Well, there are several types of worms in dogs. Unfortunately, they’re all contracted in different ways.
What Are the Symptoms of Worms in Dogs?
You can usually tell if your dog has worms due to specific symptoms they may be showing. Even though there are different kinds of worms, the signs of a parasite attacking the intestinal tract are usually the same.
Some of the most common signs include:
- Bloody stool
- Vomiting (worms may appear in vomit)
- Dry, brittle fur
- Weight loss
Sometimes, though, there may not be such obvious symptoms. Strangely enough, certain worm eggs can lay dormant in your dog’s body and flare-up at times when your dog is stressed about something.
Can a Dog Die from Having Worms?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Intestinal worms can cause severe health problems for dogs if they go untreated. The symptoms are generally treatable, but in some cases dog worms can be fatal. The most common deaths from worms occur in puppies or dogs with weakened immune systems. They are most commonly caused by hookworms.
The worms themselves don’t cause death, but the fact that they suck blood from the intestinal tract can cause your dog to become incredibly weak. If they end up losing too much blood, they could die. If you have a puppy or young dog who has worms, you should get them treated as quickly as possible as it could save their life.
Other types can be serious, but it’s unlikely your dog will die. Still, they can experience some horrible symptoms, and if some of those symptoms (such as weight loss, vomiting, etc.) become too extreme, your dog could become very ill and much weakened.
What Do Worms Look Like in Dog Poop?
One of the visible clues that your dog is infected is worms in their feces. Flat white worms in dog poop are usually tapeworms. But, because there are different types of worms to consider, you shouldn’t automatically assume your dog has tapeworms. An official diagnosis by a vet is usually needed.
How Are Dog Worms Transmitted?
The goal of any intestinal worm in your dog is to stay inside. They’re safe there, and they can continue to reproduce, grow, and cause more damage. But, there are four main types of intestinal worms your dog can get.
Even though they all want to stay in the comfort of the intestinal tract, they all do different things and have different symptoms. They are also transmitted in many ways.
Knowing more about each type can help to keep your dog (and yourself) safer:
- Roundworms: Unfortunately, roundworms can already be present in puppies (and kittens) when they’re born. They are transferred through a mother’s uterus. The larvae can also be transmitted through a mother’s milk as she feeds her new puppies. Then, they go to the dog’s intestinal tract. From there they can grow up to five inches in length. They don’t only affect puppies or young dogs. According to PetMD, they can be transmitted to older dogs too, and can lay up to 200,000 eggs in a day! Dogs suffering from roundworms often have a bloated-looking belly. The worms can also show up in vomit or the dog’s stool.
- Whipworms: These can be hard to diagnose on your own because they aren’t usually seen in your dog’s stool. They do cause weight loss and can leave your dog’s poop covered in a mucus-like solution. Whipworms are often contracted through kennels.
- Hookworms: These can be dangerous for a dog because they latch onto the intestine and suck blood. Hookworms can also be transferred from a mother to a puppy. But, dogs can get them from soil that is infested, too. If there are enough hookworms present in a dog’s body, they can kill puppies and smaller breeds of dog. They can also cause weakness, bloody diarrhea, and weight loss.
- Tapeworms: These are usually transmitted to dogs when they ingest fleas. Once in a dog’s intestine, tapeworms can grow anywhere from 4-6 inches in length. They are typically easy to identify. Segments of the tapeworms can be seen in the stool or even attached to your dog’s fur at the base of the tail.
Heartworm is also a somewhat common problem for dogs. In this guide, we’ll be focusing on intestinal parasites. But, heartworm is usually spread through the bite of a mosquito and can be fatal to dogs. Thankfully, you can get a monthly preventative medication from your dog’s vet to keep heartworm away.
Which Dog Worms are Contagious?
Dog worms are contagious! Your dog won’t be at risk for getting worms from another dog simply by being around them. Intestinal worms are different from viruses or conditions, such as kennel cough, that your dog can contract just by being next to another dog.
Instead, worms are spread from dog to dog through feces and vomit. Can dog worms live outside the body? Absolutely! Some can even live for years in feces and eventually soil. That’s what makes them so contagious.
Your dog might step in another dog’s feces and later lick their paws, etc. Some dogs, unfortunately, seem fond of eating dog feces, too, which can lead to different types of worms going into their intestinal tract.
If your dog isn’t on a de-worming solution and they come in contact with infected feces, there’s a good chance they’ll develop an infestation in their intestinal tract. It’s best to keep your dog in a safe area where there aren’t any other dog feces on the ground for them to eat or sniff around.
But, if your dog has a canine friend who happens to have worms, there’s no reason to stay away. The infestation won’t spread through the air or even through contact with another dog.
Can Dog Worms Spread to Humans?
Some intestinal worms found in dogs can pose a risk to you and your family. The most common parasitic worms that can be transmitted to humans are roundworms. How they’re transmitted may sound a bit gross, but it’s easy for humans to ingest the eggs of these worms.
They are usually ingested through dog feces in the environment. You could accidentally pick some up when you’re cleaning up your dog’s poop, or you might touch something that touched dog feces. Roundworms can live in the soil for years, too! So, if you’re digging in the dirt even years after they were deposited there, you could still be at risk. That’s why kids are especially susceptible to these parasites.
We bring our hands to our mouths so many times each day, so it’s nearly impossible to tell when the transfer may have occurred. But, there are severe risks for humans if roundworms end up in the intestinal tract, including infections in different areas of the body.
Hookworms are the only other kind of intestinal worm that can be passed from dogs to humans. They can be especially dangerous because they’re pretty much impossible to see with the naked eye. They can also penetrate through the skin, so you don’t even have to ingest them to become ‘infected.’ You could walk barefoot over an area where there was once a pile of infected dog feces. If they go untreated, hookworms can cause severe intestinal bleeding in both dogs and humans.
How to Prevent the Spread of Dog Worms to Humans
It’s unfortunately impossible to keep all types of parasites at bay all the time. You could be walking around your yard and contract worms. They are much easier to pick up from dogs than most people realize.
Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to lower your risk of getting worms from a dog:
- Dispose of your dog’s feces regularly. This will help to prevent the spread of worms in the surrounding environment.
- Give your dog a flea and tick treatment all year round.
- Practice good personal hygiene and wash your hands frequently.
- Never give your dog raw meat.
- Restrict your family’s access to ‘contaminated areas’ where other dogs may have gone to the bathroom outside.
By keeping these tips in mind, you have a better chance of avoiding getting worms from your dog or other neighborhood canines.
How to De-Worm a Dog
There are effective ways to get rid of worms in dogs! First, the right kind of worm needs to be diagnosed, and this should always be done by a veterinarian unless you have an over-the-counter or prescription treatment that targets all types. This is because not all worms respond to the same treatment. Knowing the type of worm your dog has will make treatment easier and quicker.
The best way to get rid of worms in a dog is to use a de-wormer. These can be given orally or as a shot by your vet. You can also get certain ones over-the-counter. Because there are so many different types of de-wormers, you can give them to your dog on a schedule based on the manufacturer’s instructions or your vet’s recommendation.
Here are two popular options for small and large breeds of dogs:
- Small dogs: Sentry HC WormX Plus 7-Way Dog Dewormer
- Large dogs: Excel 8 in 1 Safe-Guard Dewormer for Large Dogs
De-worming medication works by attacking the nervous system of the worms infecting your dog’s body. The medication also causes the worms to lose their ability to move and cling onto your dog’s intestines. As a result, they can’t bite down anymore. So, they pass quickly and easily through the intestinal tract and are released through your dog’s feces.
Once you start your dog on a de-wormer, you might start to see more worms than usual in your dog’s poop. That’s a good thing! It means the medication is working and the worms are sliding out of your dog’s intestines instead of clinging on.
How Long Does It Take to Get Worms Out of a Dog?
How long it takes for your dog or puppy to be completely free of worms depends on the type of worm and how severe their case might be. You have to make sure you’re giving your dog a de-worming medication long enough and on a regular schedule for it to work correctly.
In many cases, you’ll have to give your pooch more than one dose of a de-worming medication. Why? Because most of them only get rid of adult worms, not eggs or larvae. Giving more than one dose ensures that once the eggs hatch and the larvae grow, you’ll be able to get rid of them, too.
The goal is to keep on a de-worming schedule until there are no eggs left and all the worms have been passed through your dog’s intestinal tract. Typically, this takes anywhere from six weeks to two months. Most people find success with three rounds of a de-wormer but going through a fourth cycle can help to ensure there are absolutely no worms or eggs left.
Can You Worm Your Dog Too Often?
For the most part, de-worming medications are safe. But, you should always follow the directions given by your vet or on the medication itself to get the best results. As with any medication, it’s possible to ‘overdose’ your dog on a de-worming solution.
Adult dogs can safely be wormed anywhere from three to four times a year. Keep in mind that dogs can get infected with worms almost immediately after a treatment. De-wormers work by killing parasites that are already in your dog’s system.
Unfortunately, the medication doesn’t have a lasting effect and can’t protect your dog against getting worms again for a period of time. That’s why worming your dog every 3-6 months can help to keep worms away and keep your dog from experiencing negative symptoms from the parasites.
What Are the Side Effects of De-Worming a Dog?
There are potential side effect risks when you give medication to your dog. The good news is that the possible side effects from de-worming medication are usually relatively mild and don’t last long.
The most common symptoms some dogs face after taking a worming medication are diarrhea and vomiting. Your dog also might lose his or her appetite for a few days. You can ensure that they’re getting enough nutrition by feeding them a bland diet that won’t upset their stomach. Some of the safest foods are boiled brown or white rice and boiled boneless, skinless chicken breast.
Another possible side effect of using a wormer is inflammation around your dog’s anus or in the intestines themselves. It shouldn’t be too severe and is because it takes a lot of work for the worms to get out of the intestine. This kind of pressure and force can cause some swelling to occur. You might even notice a little bit of blood in your dog’s stool for a while.
If your dog has a severe case of intestinal worms, you might notice more side effects after giving them a de-worming solution. Dogs with a heavy burden of worms in their intestinal tract may experience a blockage when going to the bathroom. This is due to the number of worms becoming impacted inside on their way out. This kind of obstruction can cause abdominal pain and may cause your dog to throw up.
In extremely severe cases, dead worms that have created too much of a blockage in your dog’s intestines can be dangerous. Surgery may be required to clear your dog’s intestinal tract and get the worms out quickly.
How to Prevent Worms in Dogs in the Future
Just as it’s not totally possible to prevent humans from contracting worms, it’s also not completely possible to keep your dog from getting them. The fact is, many puppies are born with them from the start. That doesn’t mean your dog will have to deal with worms their whole life. But, they aren’t uncommon.
So, while you may not be able to keep your dog from getting worms entirely, there are things you can do to lower their risk, including:
- Talk to your vet about an intestinal worm prevention plan.
- Clean all dog poop out of your yard regularly. If you take your dog on walks, make sure to clean up their poop immediately wherever they go.
- If you have more than one pet in the house, make sure they are all on a worm preventative treatment plan.
- Put your dog on a preventative flea and tick treatment. Fleas are one of the common causes of tapeworms.
- Try to prevent your dog from eating feces. This includes their own and the feces of other dogs. Some dogs want nothing to do with eating poop while others can’t seem to ignore it if it’s on the ground.
Are Dog Worms Common?
Canine worms are common in all breeds of dogs. Many puppies are born with them. There are several types of worms, and they can be transmitted quickly. So, it’s common for every dog breed to experience one of these parasites at least once in their lifetime.
While any intestinal parasite can be dangerous, most of these are treatable. You need to get an official diagnosis of the type of worm infecting your dog. Once you’re able to get that done, you can start your dog on a de-worming medication to get rid of the parasites safely.
The more you can recognize some of the symptoms associated with intestinal worms in dogs, the better. If you’re able to see the actual worms in your dog’s feces or vomit, don’t wait before commencing a treatment plan. Not all intestinal worms are fatal, but they can cause your dog discomfort.