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Worms Affecting Dogs

dog urinary system

How Worms Cause Digestive Problems in Dogs

Dogs are loyal animals that offer loads of unconditional love and plenty of companionship, but it is unfortunate that often worms may get in the way, with the end result of leaving owners disgusted and repulsed while dogs suffer from digestive problems and more.

As much as worms in dogs may sounds like bad news, the good news is that educated owners will considerably lower the chances of their dogs being affected by parasites by simply learning how dogs get worms and how they can be prevented. 

There are a variety of worms affecting dogs, the most common being intestinal worms that thrive in the dog's intestinal tract creating a variety of signs and symptoms. It is important however to recognize that dogs may still have worms even though they are not visibly seen in the dog's stool. Indeed, some intestinal parasites can only be recognized through a fecal flotation test.

How a Dog Gets Worms

Because there are a variety of worms affecting dogs, it is important to realize that each type of worm is transmitted in different ways. Following are types of worms affecting dogs and how dogs get infested by them.


[adinserter block="4"]Tapeworm segments are often found crawling out of the dog's rectum or in areas where the dog sleeps. They resemble grains of rice once they dry out. The actual tapeworm is attached to the dog's intestinal wall and only its segments are visible as they exit the intestinal tract.

These segments capable of moving for a little while, may look like little worms when in reality they are simply sacs full of eggs. Dogs get tapeworms from ingesting an infested flea such as when they lick their fur to groom themselves. These fleas are infested because they have fed on the tapeworm eggs.

Once the flea is digested, the tapeworm eggs are released and the tapeworm's life cycle begins once again. In some cases, tapeworm eggs are contracted when a dog ingests wildlife animals that were infected. Tapeworms segments are easily visible by the naked eye. Owners suspecting tapeworms should collect some specimens and bring them to a veterinarian. Once the vet confirms their presence, a special de-wormer will be prescribed.

However, in order to completely eradicate the tapeworm population, owners should also focus on preventing the dog from getting into contact with fleas. This can be accomplished with effective top on flea products such as Frontline and with special flea sprays that will kill the eggs, pupae and fleas in the dog's environment.


Roundworms are worms that resemble strands of spaghetti. They may be found in the dog's stool or at times they may be vomited, however they may not always be visible. Most puppies are already born with these worms or they may get infested by ingesting the eggs found in the mother's milk.

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Adult dogs on the other hand, most likely get them from gets ingesting soil infested with hardy roundworm eggs or by ingesting feces contaminated with roundworm eggs. By simply licking his paws after walking on soil, dogs can ingest eggs. In some cases, roundworms may be transmitted when the dog eats a small infested mammal such as a mouse.

Roundworms cause a variety of symptoms in dogs such as a pot bellied appearance, weight loss, episodes of vomiting and diarrhea, and a dull coat. In some cases, if the larvae migrate to the lungs the dog may have coughing spells. The presence of roundworms is confirmed through a fecal flotation test. Treatment consists of administering a dewormer followed by a stool recheck 3-4 weeks thereafter.

~Whip Worms

These worms are not generally visible in the dog's stool. However they do tend to cause a variety of symptoms in dogs such as stools covered with blood or mucous, weight loss and diarrhea. Transmission occurs when a dog drinks or eats from a whip worm egg infested bowl or floor. It is important therefore to keep dogs away from contaminated areas. Treatment upon obtaining a positive fecal test consists of the administration of an effective dewormer.


[adinserter block="5"]These worms thrive in the dog's small intestine. They are commonly found in puppies and are transmitted from mother to pup or through the mother's milk. Hookworms also infest adult dogs by ingestion of larvae or by penetrating in the dog's skin.

Symptoms suggesting hook worms are the following: anemia, pale gums, weakness, dull coat, vomiting, diarrhea and black tarry stools. The larvae may eventually migrate in the lungs causing coughing spells. Fecal tests are required to confirm or rule out the possibility of hook worms. Treatment consists of administering effective deworming medication. 

And What About Heartworms?

Dog owners may have heard of heartworms, but these are not worms that thrive in the intestinal tract. Rather, these worms grow in the heart's ventricle causing serious problems and even death. Affected dogs will initially likely have coughing spells, and an unexplained tiredness.

Dogs get heart worms when a mosquito deposits heartworm eggs which will migrate into the heart clogging the main blood vessels. This debilitating condition is prevented by giving monthly heartworm medication after having the dog undergo blood work. 

As seen, there are plenty of intestinal worms out there just waiting to infest dogs and give them problems such as an upset tummy. By learning how dogs get infested by worms and by preventing them in first place, the chances of them infesting your dog will be considerable lower.

So be informed, get those recommended yearly fecal tests run and do not allow worms to interfere with the bond you and your dog share.

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