The idea of worms inside your dog is scary but it happens more often than you think.

There are five different kinds of dog worms that can attack your dog: tapeworm, hookworm, whipworm, roundworm, and the most dangerous heartworm.

When your dog is infected, his feces will be filled with millions of worm eggs. These worm eggs are scattered all over the place such as on the floor, soil, and sleeping places. When your dog licks contaminated surfaces, these worms enter the digestive system, hatch out, and are fully developed in approximately 10 days.

Dog worm symptoms

  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low energy level
  • Pot-bellied appearance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight decrease instantaneously
  • Dull coat

Other symptoms of dog worms that can be seen from outside such as hot and dry nose, red and scurfy pimples, irritated condition of the skin, pale lips, watery eyes, pale gums, and foul breath.

Types of dog worms and symptoms in detail

Roundworms

Roundworm is the common type of worm that can be found inside most dogs. They are divided into two main types.

Toxocara Canis

Parasitic worms or helminth parasite that feeds and lives inside the intestine of its host causing nutrient absorption problems which can further lead to weakness and disease. Toxocara Canis are white and yellow in color. An adult worm can have a size ranging from 9 – 18 centimeters.


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Toxascaris Leonina

Toxascaris Leonina is usually found in feces and vomit remains of the animals. When Toxascaris Leonina eggs are ingested, they hatch inside the small intestine of their host. After full growth and molting, they return to the intestinal lumen and live there.

Toxascaris leonina absorbs the nutrients from their host that leads to interference with the digestion system and also damages the inner lining of the intestine. An adult worm is usually 3-4 inches long. The adult female worm lays her eggs which will later be passed into the dog’s feces. The eggs can become infective after three to six days of exposure to the outside environment.

Diagnosis

Roundworms can be detected by examining the feces for the presence of eggs.

Characteristic

Roundworms have a spaghetti-like appearance and length of their body can grow up to 7 inches long. Eggs of roundworms are sticky and can easily adhere to any object or any part of the human body.

Symptoms

An infected dog may not show any signs at first but in more severe cases may experience dull hair coats, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and develop a pot-belly appearance. If roundworms have accumulated in dog intestines then there is a chance that these worms can block the path and result in death.

Prevention

Clean up feces or any dirty objects around your backyard regularly to prevent your dog from contracting roundworms.
Roundworm can also be transmitted to humans by egg ingestion so you should wash your hands after having playtime with your dog or before eating any food that has direct contact.

Treatment

Oral medication is given to puppies at weeks 4, 6, and 8 then followed by fecal analysis using a microscope at around weeks 11-12. Annual fecal exams are recommended for an adult dog to remove all of the asymptomatic infections.
The veterinarian can use medications for deworming process. Medications essentially anesthetize the worms which makes them unable to grip onto the host’s intestine and pass on along with the stool. Roundworms cannot survive long in the outside environment. You may be surprised by their long length and see them moving when they come out.

Author

  • Dr. Winnie, Veterinarian

    Dr. Winnie earned a Master in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria's Veterinary School. She is a full-time Veterinarian specializing in internal medicine for companion animals.