Dog Intestinal Worms

Updated on January 26, 2009
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Whitney has over 10 years of experience in dog training, rescuing and dog healthcare.

Intestinal Worms

There are a number of worms that your dog can contract, and it is important that you get your dog dewormed at the appropriate age, as a severe infestation can become fatal in young puppies.

Puppies and youner dogs are more succesptible to contracting worms than adult dogs are, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't have your adult dog checked during his regular vet exam.

Although, you can see some worms in a dog's stool or vomit, not all worms 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 signs of worm segments or eggs, so that your dog can be treated sooner than later.


Types of Worms

Hookworms: Hookworms are small, thin worms. Hookworms hook to the walls of the small intestine and suck the blood. Dogs can contract hookworms from contaminated soil, when the dog, or puppy, digs and plays in the dirt, he can come into contact with the larvae, which become adults once in the intestine. Young puppies can also contract hookworms from the mother dog, either while in the uterus or from the milk while nursing; severe hookworm infestation can be fatal to puppies, but generally hookworms is not a problem with older dogs. You want to look for diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, and weakness. A vet can properly diagnose hookworms by looking at a fecal sample under the microscope.

Roundworms: Roundworms are typically long and round; they can reach an average of about 7 inches long. Roundworms are very common in puppies, and this type of worm is what causes the plump belly in a young puppy. Dogs can contract roundworms by contaminated soil. Basically, the larva crawls up the windpipe and the dog swallows it; once the worm eggs are in the body, they hatch in the intestines, the worms grow into adults. Female roundworms can produce up to 200,000 eggs each day, which can travel to the lungs by the bloodstream. 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. Roundworms can be seen in the dog, or pup's, stool or vomit, so it's not 100% necessary to see a vet in this case, although a vet can prescribe the best wormers. However, you can use over-the-counter dewormers to rid your pup of roundworms; just remember that if you're not using the proper dosage, you can harm your pup.

Tapeworms: Tapeworms are a smaller worm, but like hookworms and roundworms, they are a small intestine parasite. Dogs and puppies can contract tapeworms from ingesting fleas or eating wildlife infected with fleas or tapeworms. You can normally see segments of tapeworms in your dog's stool, which are typically flat and look like rice when dried. A vet is the only place where you can get a good wormer against tapeworms.

Whipworms: Whipworms look like pieces of string with one enlarged end. Whipworms live in the cecum, which is the first section of the large intestine. A vet is the best person to diagnose and treat whipworms, as they typically cannot be seen in the stool or vomit, but only under a microscope.

Other common types of worms include:

  • Flatworms which inhabit the intestines, lungs, and liver
  • Lungworms which are a type of round worm found in the lungs
  • Heartworms which are a type of roundworm found in the heart, and is commonly found in adult dogs

Roundworms in stool
Roundworms in stool

Signs of Worms

Although, some types of worms will not show any signs of infestation until in the later stages, such as in a pregnant female dog where roundworms activate during the last stage of pregnancy where the puppies are then infested.

In many cases, the worm larvae will lie dormant until times of stress where they are then activated, which can be the case of some roundworms- again the example being a pregnant female dog.

Common signs of worms can include:

  • Anemia (pale skin and gums)
  • Bloody stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry hair
  • Dull coat
  • General poor appearance
  • Pot-belly (mostly in pups)
  • Skin lesions
  • Tail skidding (dog rubs butt on the carpet)
  • Visible signs of worms or worm segments in stool, vomit, or around the anus dried in the fur
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

Treating Intestinal Worms

There are a number of different treatments for worms, mostly depending on the type of worm and the severity of the infestation. But, the best treatment for worms is prevention, which can easily be achieved by worming dogs under one year, puppies especially should follow the schedule of deworming medicines. Heartworm medicine should be provide for puppies 4 months and older, and a flea and tick preventative should also be used.

Regular vet exams can catch intestinal worms sooner than later, which is the ideal situation for treatment. After a fecal sample is taken, and the vet determines what type of worms your dog has after looking under the microscrope, a treatment will be prescribed accordingly.

There are several drugs that your vet may prescribe and depending on the severity of the infestation, your dog may only need a heartworm pill to start flushing his body of the worms, and then of course regular heartworm pills. Heartworm pills contain anti-parasite medications (varying depending on the type of heartworm prevention), so they can be used to treat even roundworms.

Medicines used as treatment for intestinal worms include:

  • Roundworms: Pyrantel pamoate (Nemex) or fenbendazole (Panacur)
  • Hookworms: Pyrantel pamoate or Fenbendazole (Panacur)
  • Whipworms: Fenbendazole (Panacur)
  • Physaloptera (stomach worm): Pyrantel pamoate (Nemex)
  • Strongyloides: Fenbendazole (Panacur) or pyrantel pamoate (Strongid T, Nemex)
  • Tapeworms: Praziquantel (Droncit), epsiprantel (Cestex) or febantel + praziquantel (Versom)
  • Coccidia: Sulfadimethoxine or trimethoprim-sulfa
  • Giardia: Metronidazole (Flagyl)

Regular Worming Schedule

Prevent Intestinal Worms

Again, the most important for treating intestinal worms is preventing it. You can take simple steps to preventing 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 a 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

 Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a veterinarian.

Questions & Answers


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        DawnArgenbright 20 months ago

        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?

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        melissa 22 months ago

        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.

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        casper 6 years ago

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

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        Cindy 6 years ago

        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?

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        Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

        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.

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        tiffanygooch 7 years ago

        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.

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        Adrianne  7 years ago

        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.

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        Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

        Yes, your other dog can get the worms.

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        Brian Neely 7 years ago

        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?

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        Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

        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.

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        Shelley 8 years ago

        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?

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        Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

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

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        Timeril 8 years ago

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

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        Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

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

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        russ hunt 8 years ago

        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?

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        Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

        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.

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        priscilla 8 years ago

        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!

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        Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

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

        anjalichugh, thanks. hopefully it will help your friend.

      • anjalichugh profile image

        anjalichugh 9 years ago from New York

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

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        sheenarobins 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

        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 :)