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Does My Dog Have Worms?

A basic understanding about Intestinal dog worms will help you to identify the condition in your pet.
Sonia Nair
Last Updated: Jul 12, 2018
If you have a pet dog, you must have a basic idea about the common health problems that can affect him. Dogs can get infested with worms, that are parasites that live within its body.
Even though, intestinal parasites (whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms) are commonly found in dogs; heartworms that infest the heart and blood vessels, are also not uncommon. 
Dog worms may not cause any symptom during the early stages of infestation. Even though, the dog exhibits some mild symptoms, you may not notice them. If left untreated, dog worms may cause severe symptoms; and in some cases, such infections may spread to humans. So, it is very important to get the condition treated at the earliest.
Dog Worm Symptoms
Early detection is always beneficial for treating dog worms. This prevents worsening of the condition, thereby reducing the discomfort caused to the dog.
While intestinal worms in dogs may not cause fatal complications, heartworms can lead to serious problems. So the latter condition has to be treated as soon as it is detected.
In general, dogs with worm (intestinal) problems may exhibit symptoms, like dull coat, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, blood in stools, and dehydration. In some cases, affected dogs may also develop pot bellies.
If the dog is infested with roundworms, the most common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting and pot belly. You may also find the worms in the dog's poop. These white worms are almost four to five inches in length.
In case of whipworms, the dogs may lose weight and may also experience recurring diarrhea, blood in stools, anemia, and inflammation of the colon. Sometimes, the poop may contain worm eggs.
Tapeworms cause vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss in canines. In this case, the affected dogs experience severe discomfort, along with itching. Tapeworm segments are often seen in dog's poop, as uncooked rice grains.
Unlike other types, hookworms cause itchy feet that may develop rashes too. The dog may also have cough and wheezing, apart from diarrhea and vomiting. The poop may also turn red or black. Hookworms, if left untreated, may even lead to death in puppies.
In case of heartworms, symptoms may not appear during the early stages. As the condition worsens, the dog develops lethargy, cough, loss of appetite, weight loss, protruded chest, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in stools, dull coat, and even blindness.
How do Dogs Get Worms
While heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites, tapeworm infection is often caused by ingestion of infected fleas. Hookworm infection can be caused by ingestion of the eggs or larvae. These larvae can also burrow the skin and enter the body, thereby causing infection. Such infection can be transmitted to the fetus inside the womb of an infected mother.
If there are hookworm larvae in water, drinking such water may also result in infection. Roundworms can also infect the fetus inside the womb. Ingestion of infected animals can also cause roundworms. In case of whipworms, infection spreads through contaminated water or food.
While some worms are visible to naked eyes, some others are microscopic in nature. So, if you find worms in the dog's poop, identifying the type of infection may become easier. Otherwise, microscopic evaluation of the feces is done. So, if you notice symptoms of worms in dogs, contact your vet immediately; and provide the right treatment for your dog.
In most cases, medication for deworming is prescribed. Flea and tick collars may be found beneficial, to prevent tapeworms. You have to follow the treatment plan to eradicate the problem completely. The type of medication may change with the type of infection.
Disclaimer: This is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.