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Types of Worms in Dogs

Types of Worms in Dogs

If you have a dog, you already know how dogs suffer because of parasitic worms. Here is an overview of the different types of worms in dogs, in order to know what is ailing your beloved canine, and understand to identify the symptoms. This will definitely help you to take correct action at an early stage.
Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
The world of a canine lover revolves around his/her dog! The slightest of discomfort to the beloved canine is enough to bring furrows on the owner's brow. And why would it not be so? After all, even the dog's life revolves around its owner―indeed, its owner is its whole world. But eternal bliss is a hypothesis, even in the life of a canine, and worms prove this to be true. This is a list of the chief kinds of worms in dogs, and a brief account of how they harm their health. Arrest your pet's sufferings by identifying the worms and their symptoms.

6 Types of Worms in Dogs

Heartworms: Heartworms are among the different types of canine worms that fall under the roundworm family. Heartworms in dogs cause two major diseases - Pulmonary Heartworm Disease wherein the parasites thrive within the pulmonary arteries and Caval Syndrome, wherein the parasites invade the heart itself. These worms are usually transferred to dogs via bites from infected mosquitoes. How a dog reacts to this parasite depends upon certain factors like the number of worms in its system, immunity of the dog, size of the dog, the duration which the worms have spent inside the dog, and how active the dog is. Larger dogs are able to tolerate the infestation better due to larger artery openings, and more active dogs are known to have more severe cases of infestation. Symptoms of heartworm include coughing, breathing problems, weakness, frequent unconsciousness, enlarged abdomen, and high blood pressure.

Flatworms: Commonly known as flukes, these worms are contacted through feces or consuming the flesh of an infected animal. Most flatworm infections do not exhibit any symptom, and an infestation can be diagnosed only by examining the dog's feces under a microscope.

Roundworms: Also known as Nematodes, roundworms are smooth, narrow, cylindrical and taper at their extremities. These can usually be seen under microscope and these usually settle in the intestines of the host. Pups can contact roundworms while in the mother's uterus or from her milk. Also, ingestion of small, infected animals or contaminated soil may pass on the worms or their eggs to the dog's system. Roundworm eggs can survive in soil for many years in a dormant state and once these enter the host's body, they hatch and the worms that are born thrive in the intestines of the dog. They feed on the enzymes and multiply by laying eggs within the host's body. These eggs can be seen in an infected dog's feces if scrutinized under the microscope. The roundworm family includes many types of worms in dogs such as esophageal worms, hookworms, threadworms, whipworms, heartworms and lung worms, kidney worms (Dioctophyme renale), etc. Roundworms are among most common types of worms in dogs and symptoms of their infestation include diarrhea, vomiting, rapid weight loss, and pot belly. The eggs of roundworms can be found in the feces of an infected dog if it is examined under a microscope.

Whipworms: These worms belong to the roundworm family and are ¼ inch long. Once they enter the dog's body, they thrive in its cecum and colon, causing irritation therein. Whipworm eggs can live in canine feces for about 5 years, and can be contacted by a dog if it happens to run over it or sniff it. These are also intestinal worms and they feed from their hosts by sucking blood from the hosts' intestinal walls. Symptoms of whipworm infestation include anemia, pale gums, intestinal bleeding, bloody stool often accompanied with mucus, dehydration, weakness, lethargy, and rapid weight loss.

Tapeworms: Also known as ,Cestodes, tapeworms are among the most common worm types in dogs and are of three different types - Dipylidium Caninum which is the commonest and is contacted by ingesting fleas, Taenia Taeniaformis which is contacted from farm animals and pests such as sheep, rats and mice, and Echinococcus Granulosum which can be contacted from mice and humans. Are tapeworms in dogs contagious? The answer is a big YES! Tapeworms attach themselves to the small intestine with the help of its feeding organ, and are composed of 1/8-inch long segments which contain eggs. These egg containing pieces break off, release the eggs and then dry up. These are excreted by the dog. The symptoms manifested by an infestation of any of these three worm types in dogs include vomiting, weight loss, itching, restlessness, and abdominal pain.

Hookworms: Hookworms are also among common types of worms found in dogs, and can be contacted through the skin as well as consuming contaminated articles. It can also be passed on from the mother through the placenta or from milk. These belong among to the category of roundworms. Since these parasites can enter the host through the skin, a dog can contact them if it walks on contaminated ground or if it smells hookworm-infested feces of another dog or animal. Hookworms are the most common types of intestinal worms in canines, and once they enter the host's body, they settle on the intestines and feed on its blood, causing intestinal bleeding and anemia. Symptoms include pale gums, weakness, wheezing, coughing, diarrhea, dry skin, itchy feet, stomach cramps, bloody stools, and rapid weight loss.

Diagnosis and Treatment

On the manifestation of any of the above symptoms of dog worm, the exact infection can be diagnosed via a number of methods like stool tests or examining stool samples under a microscope, through blood tests, sometimes X-Rays and or by examining the anal area of the dog. Blood test and X-Ray are required to diagnose heartworm and tapeworms' broken segments can be detected around the anal opening of the dog. Other types of worms can be diagnosed by examining the dog's stool. Treatment may include prescription drugs such as Fenbendazole and pyrante (roundworm), Nemix tablets and other oral medications, injections (hookworm), fenbendazole, milbemycin oxime and febantel (whipworm), surgery and administration of melarsomine dihydrochloride (heartworms), etc. Also, in case of severe anemic symptoms, blood transfusion may be a necessary inclusion. Here are some home remedies for dog worms, that work wonders in stemming the infection.

Preventive Measures
  • Visit the vet regularly and get the treatment done diligently.
  • When taking your dog for a walk, pick up its feces, to prevent soil contamination and spread of infection to other dogs.
  • Administer strict flea control measures.
  • Keep your dog way from feces - its own as well as of others.
  • Make sure your dog doesn't come in contact with stray animals.
  • When cleaning your pet's living space, wipe it or spray it with salt water to prevent worms' infestation.
  • Consult the vet at the slightest doubt.
Keeping your pet away from contamination and unhygienic surroundings is the best way to keep away all types of worms in dogs. Your pet is your responsibility―the least you can do in return for its unconditional love for you is to take good care of it. Keep your eyes open to any abnormal behavior or physical changes of your dog. Know and be prepared to handle the task of getting rid of worms from your dog's system for spontaneous diagnosis and eradication. Your alertness can save your pet a lot of suffering.