As a responsible dog owner, you tend to keep an eye on your dog's health. You are in for a shock, when you observe worms in dog poop. It is very common to observe their presence in the feces, as it is very easy for these parasites to enter your dog's guts. However, most healthy dogs are able to maintain immunity against the effects of these parasites. Only when the infestation turns severe, does one observe the symptoms. These symptoms lead to a poor appetite, lethargy and severe anemia (especially in young pups). So, what are these white worms found in dog poop?
There is not one type of worm, but different types of worms that can infect a dog's gastrointestinal tract. Many puppies are born with worms as they can be passed on from the mother in the womb. Many dogs suffer from worms, and they should be treated immediately. Intestinal worms could lead to many health problems, at times serious issues. Worms enter a dogs system, after the dog eats or licks something that contains the worm or its eggs. This includes infested water or food. A few dogs have a bad habit of sniffing or eating dog poop. Thus, the parasite gains direct entry into the dogs gastrointestinal tract. At times, a flea or mosquito is the carrier and their bites transfer the eggs or larvae of the worm into the dog's body.
In this article we shall learn about some of these nasty parasites that ruin the health of our beloved pet. Let us begin by reading more about the types of different worms seen in dog feces.
Types of Worms in Dog Stools
There are different types of worms who can infest a dog's intestines. The common parasites in dogs apart from fleas are:
- Roundworms (Toxocara canis)
- Hookworms (Ancylostoma caninum)
- Whipworms (Trichuris vulpis)
- Tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum)
- Heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis)
These are some of the intestinal parasites in dogs. Of these, Heartworms do not inhabit the dog intestinal region but are present in the heart and large blood vessels. They spread through mosquito bites and can be over 6 inches long. They lead to congestive heart failure in dogs and lead to symptoms such as fainting, coughing, breathing difficulties, dull coat, enlarged abdomen, etc. Now, coming back to worms in dog stools. Which are the worms that you may have observed in your dog's stools? The following paragraphs will discuss just that.
Worms in Dog Stool
From the above paragraphs, you must have understood that roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms infect the canine intestines. But, not all these worms appear in dog poop. Hookworms and whipworms pass microscopic eggs in stools that are very hard to observe without a microscope. Whipworms produce very few eggs and thus, one may require many stool samples to diagnose the presence of these worms. Hookworms are very small and cannot be seen with the naked eye. Thus, they require microscopic examination of the stools. So, this leaves us with roundworms and tapeworms. Either of these worms can be observed in dog poop. But, how do you distinguish between these two worms in dog stool? You need to go through the characteristics mentioned below regarding these two worms to understand the type of infection your dog has developed.
Canine Roundworm Infection
One of the common worm infections in dogs is by roundworms. This worm infestation leads to a pot bellied appearance in many puppies. Puppies can become infected with the worms when developing in their mother's uterus or when nursing on mother's milk. Thus, it is important to deworm the mother, if one wants to prevent roundworms in puppies. Roundworm eggs can survive in soil for many years and can enter a dog's body by ingestion of contaminated soil or coming in contact with infected animals. Once the eggs are ingested, they travel down to the intestines and hatch. The worms mature and reproduce more eggs. The larvae can travel around the body and get lodged in the lungs or liver.
Some of the symptoms of roundworms in dogs include -
- Dull coat
- Pot-bellied appearance in puppies
- Coughing (in case the worms reach the lungs)
- Weight loss
If your dog is suffering from a roundworm infestation, it is important to note the appearance of the worms in dog stool as well as vomit. These worms are about 7 inches long and may appear like a long spaghetti. You will spot these long, wriggling white worms in dog's poop.
Canine Tapeworm Infection
Tapeworms are long, flat worms that infest the canine intestines. These worms are tiny in size, but easily visible to the naked human eye. These tapeworms are passed into the dog's digestive tract after ingestion of a flea or a contaminated animal meat. Most of the tapeworm infestations do not cause any kind of symptoms. If symptoms do appear, they generally include abdominal pain, nervousness, rectal irritation causing the dog to continuously lick the anus or scoot. These tapeworms are often known as dog worms that look like rice. This is because the broken body segments of the worm often stick around the anal fur. You may even find these white worm segments fallen on the floor or bed where the animal sleeps.
Difficult to Spot Worms in Dog Stools
In the preceding paragraphs, we have mentioned that whipworms and hookworms are very difficult to spot in the feces by the naked human eye. However, when the infestation is very severe, one may observe little worms of either of these species (rare cases). However, it is always better to know about these worms, whether you observe them in dog feces or not.
Canine Whipworm Infection
Whipworms are very hard to spot in dog feces. These worms are never present in large numbers and thus, remain invisible. Whipworms look like tiny threads and remain inconspicuous to the naked eye. They are found living in the dog's large intestine. They reproduce sporadically and therefore, it becomes very difficult to diagnose presence of these worms. These worms attach themselves to the intestinal wall for feeding. This leads to intestinal bleeding. Dogs, especially puppies often become anemic and suffer from diarrhea with feces streaked with blood.
Canine Hookworm Infection
Another type of parasite to infect dogs is hookworms. They hook onto the intestinal walls and suck the blood of the animal. These worms are invisible to naked eye and thus, stool samples are needed for diagnosis. These worms lead to pale gums, lethargy, and blood streaked diarrhea in the animal.
Worms in Dog Stool: Treatment
Once you observe symptoms indicating worms in a dog's poop, it is important to seek veterinary help for treatment. The treatment usually involves deworming medications. Common deworming medications in case of roundworms include pyrantel pamoate, praziquantel, epsiprantel, etc. Tapeworms are effectively killed by use of praziquantel. Also, the veterinarian will advice flea treatment, to prevent reinfection of tapeworms. The dog will be called in after 3 to 4 weeks for a check up to make sure the infection has been treated and cured.
In conclusion, worms in dog poop probably indicates a roundworm or tapeworm infection. If you observe white worms in your dog's poop, then seek veterinarian help. There are many OTC medications to treat dog worms, but it is always better to give your dog medications as advised by a veterinarian.