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Intestinal Worms in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment

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Whitney has over 10 years of experience in dog training, rescuing, and healthcare.

Parasite prevention in dogs

Parasite prevention in dogs

The Types of Worms in Canines

There are a number of worms that your dog can contract, and it is important that you get your dog dewormed at an appropriate age as a severe infestation can be fatal in young puppies. Puppies and younger dogs are more susceptible to contracting parasites than adult dogs, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't have your adult dog checked during their regular vet exam.

Although you can see some parasites in a dog's stool or vomit, not all can be identified that way. A vet will take a fecal sample during a routine vet exam to check the stool under a microscope for the presence of eggs. This way, your dog can be treated sooner rather than later.

Signs and Symptoms of Worms

Sometimes, symptoms of an infestation are not apparent right away (such as in a pregnant female dog where roundworms activate during the last stage of pregnancy). In many cases, the worm larvae will lie dormant until times of stress when they are then activated, as is the case with some roundworms. The following symptoms, however, may be observed:

Common Signs of Parasites in Dogs

  • Anemia (pale skin and gums)
  • Bloody stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry hair
  • Dull coat
  • Poor appearance
  • Potbelly (mostly in puppies)
  • Skin lesions
  • Tail-skidding
  • Worms or worm segments in stool, vomit, or around the anus
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss



Hookworms are small, thin worms. They hook to the walls of the small intestine and feed on blood. Symptoms of hookworm include:

  • diarrhea,
  • weight loss,
  • anemia,
  • and weakness.

How Do Dogs Get It?

Dogs can contract hookworms from contaminated soil when they play or dig in the dirt and come into contact with larvae, which then become adults once in the intestine. Young puppies can also contract hookworm from the mother dog, either while in the uterus or from nursing.

How Is It Treated?

Severe infestations can be fatal in puppies, but in older dogs, hookworm is generally not a problem so long as it gets treated. A vet can properly diagnose hookworm by looking at a fecal sample under the microscope.


Roundworms are typically long and round; they can reach an average of about 7 inches long. Female roundworms can produce up to 200,000 eggs each day, which can travel to the lungs via the bloodstream. Roundworms are very common in puppies, and this type of worm is what causes the plump belly in a young dog.

How Do Dogs Get It?

Dogs can contract roundworms by sniffing, licking, or ingesting contaminated soil. Once the eggs are in the body, they hatch in the intestines and grow into adult parasites. Puppies are more commonly susceptible to roundworms, as the larvae can encyst in the mother's tissues and activate during the last stage of the pregnancy.

How Is It Treated?

Roundworms will be visible in the dog or pup's stool or vomit, and a vet will be able to prescribe a dewormer. You can also use over-the-counter dewormers, but remember that if you're not using the proper dosage, you can harm your pup.

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Tapeworms, like hookworms and roundworms, are small intestinal parasites.

How Do Dogs Get It?

Dogs and puppies can contract tapeworm from ingesting fleas or eating wildlife infested with fleas or tapeworms. You can normally see segments of tapeworms in your dog's stool; these segments are typically flat and look like rice when dried.

How Is It Treated?

If you see segments in your dog's stool, take a picture and share it with your vet so that they can prescribe a good dewormer. Tapeworms are fairly common, however, so by keeping your dog on regular flea prevention, you can help to reduce or entirely prevent their occurrence.


Whipworms look like pieces of string with one enlarged end. Whipworms live in the cecum, which is the first section of the large intestine.

How Do Dogs Get It?

Dogs get whipworms from swallowing soil or from ingesting feces that contain eggs.

How Is It Treated?

A vet is the best person to diagnose and treat whipworm, as these parasites typically cannot be seen in the stool or vomit, but only under a microscope.

Other Common Types of Parasites

  • Flatworms inhabit the intestines, lungs, and liver.
  • Lungworms are a type of roundworm found in the lungs.
  • Heartworms are a type of roundworm transmitted by mosquitos and found in the hearts of adult dogs.

How Are Parasites Treated?

There are a number of different treatments for parasites, and this mostly depends on the type of worm and the severity of the infestation. Regular vet exams can catch intestinal worms sooner than later. However, the best thing you can do for your dog is to keep them on a regular preventative.

This can be easily achieved by deworming dogs under one year of age. Flea and tick meds should be used monthly, and if you live in an area where heartworm is prevalent, a preventative against heartworm is also advised.

After a fecal sample is taken and the vet determines what type of parasite your dog has after looking at it under the microscrope, they will recommend a specific treatment. There are several drugs that your vet may prescribe depending on the severity of the infestation.

Common Drugs Used to Treat Parasites in Dogs



Pyrantel pamoate (Nemex) or fenbendazole (Panacur)


Pyrantel pamoate (Nemex) or fenbendazole (Panacur)


Fenbendazole (Panacur)


Praziquantel (Droncit), epsiprantel (CESTEX), or febantel + praziquantel (Drontal Plus)


Sulfadimethoxine (Albon) or Tribrissen (combo)


Metronidazole (Flagyl)

How to Prevent Parasites in Dogs

You can take simple steps to protect your puppy or dog from contracting an intestinal parasite:

  • Stick to routine vaccinations, dewormings, and vet exams
  • Keep any area where the puppy or dog will be kept clean, such as outdoor kennels and sleeping areas
  • Use a flea and tick prevention
  • Use heartworm prevention
  • Prevent unsupervised hunting
  • Remove feces from your yard regularly
  • Wash your hands after playing with another dog
  • Don't feed raw meat or offal; base your dog's staple diet on a high-quality dog food

Using Preventatives Is Key

Again, the best thing you can do as a pet owner to protect your dog from parasites is to use regular prevention.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


DawnArgenbright on August 09, 2016:

I have an aprox. 7 month old rednose pitbull puppy, i rescued him from a place that was beating him to make him be mean to fight him. Ive got his shots and one shot for worms but the clinic neglected to inform me he needed to return for more deworming i purchased a dewormer and have been giving him a dose every2 weeks as i was instructed. It was every 2 weeks for 4 doeses then once a month there after. He has had 4 doses already and the worms are still appearing in his stool and they come out of his rectum during the night time i find them on the bedding in the morning but they appear to be (for lack of better word) dehydrated... when theyre in his stool they are alive , white and flat. When i find them on the bedding they look like tiny grains of yellow rice and there have been as many as 30 (to my calculation) of them. I am not in a position to take him to a vet i just got laid off. I love my baby with ALL my heart and and want him to get better!!!! Any suggestions as to what i can do?

melissa on June 14, 2016:

My puppy is 10 weeks old and we just got him yesterday from a shelter. he looked real thin when we got him and hasn't really stopped eating since. his poop is green and a bit runny but I didn't see anything that looked like worms. he has a large pot belly that hasn't gone away (probably from eating) and he whines constantly, even when being held or just moving around the house. is this normal puppy behavior? my other dog never did this when she was small.

casper on December 17, 2011:

i found a long white worm one of are dogs choughed up on the couch iv been haven cramps and thr poos

Cindy on July 25, 2011:

I just got a puppy yesterday and I found little worms in their stool. The worms were still alive and moving. They were small in size but how do I know what kind they are/what medicine I should go get at the pet store?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on December 01, 2010:

If the pup just had a wormer, then what was pooped out were dead worms, showing that the de-wormer is working. The vet will more than likely use three doses of the de-wormer. I want to say that's what my vet did when I first got my last pup.

tiffanygooch on December 01, 2010:

i have a 10 week old puppy and she had a poo today and i found wot i can only discribe as chinese noodle size white thing only 2 of them we have only just finished a worming soloution on her all the doses yesterday dose this me the worm like things were not moving. she as been podgy since we got her.

Adrianne on November 23, 2010:

My 7 yr old peke just suffered what I suspect was a seizure. He knocked into my bedroom door 3x unable to push it open which prompted me to check on him considering the door was ajar. I found him shaking, with his muscles locked, a crazed stare and heavy drool. I noticed he's been eating more than usual but looks to have lost some weight. I looked online and saw that worms might be to blame for the weight loss and now the seizure. Any idea what type of infestation he might have? Or any other helpful info/suggestions? I have another dog and a cat as well and am now worried they may all be infected.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on September 13, 2010:

Yes, your other dog can get the worms.

Brian Neely on September 11, 2010:

I just adopted a pup that has had his first worm treatment from a vet. They told me to take him back next week. I noticed that he has kittle living worms in hi stool. Can he give them to my other dog that is also four months old?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 14, 2010:

Usually, puppies get three treatments for worms, not just one. At 8 weeks (2 months), the pup should have had 1 or 2 treatments already. The vet will need to give you roundworm treatment. The heartguard is ok if the worms are just a little, but if the dog is passing them, she's got a lot in her body. Are they moving or dead?

If they're dead, then maybe the heartguard did kill them and she's passing the bodies, which is possible.

Shelley on January 14, 2010:

My dog is 7 months old. We got her at 2 months as a rescue dog. Took her to the vet and they said she probably had roundworm so they gave me some meds for her. Now at 7 months she has started to have stools with what looks like broken short pieces of spaggetti. i`m sure it is a worm but I`m not sure want kind it is. I gor HeartGuard for round and hook worm but it still looks like its there. What kind of worm could it be?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 09, 2010:

Over the counter is not really ideal. At the age of the dog, seek veterinary assistance as soon as you can.

Timeril on January 08, 2010:

My border collie has what looks like maggots coming from his anus. I gave him worming tablets, is this sufficient? He is 16.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on July 16, 2009:

Try a chlorox carpet cleaning solution. You'll want to clean the entire carpet, not just that area.

russ hunt on July 15, 2009:

I just got a boxer who was not taken very good care of and I took him to the vet she said he had hook worms and he has now pooped in my carpet how can I clean it to were there is no worms in the carpet?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on June 13, 2009:

The dog is probably just heavy on worms. I'm not sure how a dog that young has worms that bad. You may want to get a second opinion. 40 days old is just over one month, just 5 weeks.

priscilla on June 13, 2009:

my puppy is 40 days old , i took him to vet as he looked weak. my vet diagonosed him to be anemic, also he suspected that my puppy might have worms causing anemia. he gave him some kinda of anti worm syrup and said to bring him after 21 days. i dont know what he gave to my pup, as he is not relieved and some times looks miserable and refuses to eat.

please any suggestions!

Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 12, 2009:

Sheena, definitely keep up with puppy shots. They are very important.

anjalichugh, thanks. hopefully it will help your friend.

anjalichugh from New York on January 11, 2009:

Thx for the info. I forwarded this link to my friend who owns a dog.

sheenarobins from Cebu, Philippines on January 11, 2009:

thanks for the info on this. It's my first time to own a puppy and I think I should go to the nearest vet for deworming my puppy. Her name is Gigly :)

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