Deworming is an important part of pet care, and the thought of creepy crawly worms in your dog or puppy can be quite disturbing, but the good news is worms are easily preventable! With the right deworming protocol, your dog can live happily with no issues with worms.
Common Symptoms in a Dog with Worms
While each parasite affects dogs differently, there are some general warning symptoms that dog owners should be aware of. Intestinal worms may cause the following:
- Poor coat appearance
- Pot-bellied appearance
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Deficiencies in nutrition and anemia
- Intestinal blockage or pneumonia
- Blood in stool (either bright red or darker purple)
Types of Worms
- Roundworms – As one of the most common intestinal worms in dogs, this parasite is most commonly contracted through dirt or infected feces. There are two types of roundworms in dogs: Toxocara canis (T. canis) and Toxascaris leonina. T. canis. From eggs, they grow and develop into thin, thread-like parasites that can mature up to 12cm in length. Some symptoms of roundworms in dogs include weight loss, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, mucus in the stool, and stunted growth.
- Hookworms – Hookworms are one of the most dangerous types of parasites. There are several different kinds of hookworms that can affect dogs. They are very small (about 1/8 of an inch) but can ingest large amounts of blood when they attach to the dog’s intestinal wall. Some symptoms that could indicate that your dog has hookworms are lethargy, anemia, poor appetite, and black stools containing blood.
- Ringworms – These worms are caused by a fungus that lives on the skin. Ringworms can be highly contagious and can be transmitted to humans. A dog with ringworm may develop bare oval patches on its skin. Ringworms can be detected under ultraviolet light at your vet.
- Whipworms – These parasites live in the dog’s cecum (the beginning of the large intestine) and colon, where they pass their eggs into the dog’s feces. Dogs get whipworms from ingesting an infested substance, which can include food, water, feces, soil, or animal flesh. Symptoms that a dog has whipworms is frequent diarrhea, has mucus in its stools, or is experiencing weight loss.
- Heartworms – Heartworms are transmitted through mosquitos, and can potentially cause lung or heart damage, coughing, fatigue, and lethargy. In severe cases, this condition can be fatal. Although heartworms are difficult to cure, they are easy to prevent.
- Tapeworms – A tapeworm can enter a dog when the dog eats its larvae from a host animal, such as a mouse or flea. There are generally no obvious symptoms, but small rice-like segments may be present around the dog’s anus or in its stool. Tapeworms often cause a dog to eat more than normal but with no obvious weight gain.
Puppies should receive a deworming treatment based on the following schedule or as recommended by your vet:
- Every 2 weeks until three months old, starting at age 2 weeks
- Monthly from three months old to six months old
- After six months of age, follow adult recommendations. Dogs six months and older should also use a heartworm preventative that is effective against roundworms and hookworms.
Adult dogs should receive a deworming treatment approximately every six months. If your dog participates in activities that could increase its risk of acquiring parasites, your vet may recommend a more frequent deworming schedule.
If your dog or puppy has worms, it is important to know what to expect after you have administered the deworming medication. A dewormer generally starts to work within two to six hours, and it is fairly common to see worms in their feces after deworming. This occurs because after the deworming medication, the worms have either dissolved or become paralyzed by the medication and must be passed out of the dog’s body. This can also cause some diarrhea after a deworming treatment, but it will not last more than one or two days.