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My Dog Has Worms, What Do I Do?

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I have a passion for animals. I enjoy researching and writing educational articles to help dog and cat owners become better pet parents.

Don't be surprised, worms are very common!

Don't be surprised, worms are very common!

Does Your Dog Have Worms?

So you have worms! Actually, let me rephrase that, your dog has worms! Yuck. Though worms are gross, they are a very common canine problem. In fact, they are so common that some pups are even born with them! The good news is that veterinary medicine has come a long way, and there are many different ways to rid your four-legged friend of these nasty parasites.

Most worms live inside of your dog’s intestinal tract. The most common worms are as follows:

  • roundworms
  • hookworms
  • whipworms
  • tapeworms

The most common symptoms of worm infestation are diarrhea and vomiting. Heavy worm loads may cause more serious problems such as anemia, loss of appetite, and malnutrition. In a nutshell, worms tend to suck the life right out of Fido. They live off of your dog’s blood, as well as the food in your pet’s body.

Roundworms

Roundworms look like pasta—like strings of spaghetti, in fact. They are easy to detect, as they can be spotted in your dog’s feces or in some cases their vomit. As previously mentioned, roundworms live in their host’s intestinal tract. So how does your dog get roundworms? Well, one way is through eating a contaminated substance such as old dog poop that he just so happens to find on his daily walk (as yucky as it may sound, many dogs do in fact like to eat old dog poop). Dogs can also get them if they play with, roll in, or—God forbid—eat a dead rodent.

Puppies get roundworms from their mothers when they are born (she transmits larvae during birth or when nursing). It is very important that you bring a poop sample to the vet when you go for your dog’s yearly check-up as they can determine if your furry friend is infested. Obviously, if your dog has signs of a possible worm problem, don’t wait for their yearly health check. Make an appointment as soon as possible!

So now that you know your dog has roundworms, how do you get rid of them? Well, you don’t, but your veterinarian will! Your vet will most likely prescribe a de-wormer such as PROWormer-2 or Safe-Guard Granules. Basically, these medications kill the mature worms living within your dog, which will then allow the dead worms to pass through them. De-worming is not quick; it can take several treatments to rid your pup of worms completely.

Hookworms

Just like roundworms, hookworms are also a common canine problem. There are several ways that your dog can become infected with hookworms, including through the skin, ingestion from eating contaminated food and or water, through a mother dog’s contaminated milk, or through the mother's reproductive tract when pups are born.

If you are anxious to see a hookworm, don’t bother looking for one, as they are microscopic and can’t be seen with the human eye; they are virtually invisible. Symptoms of hookworms include pale gums, black poop, lethargy, and dull, dry hair. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

As with roundworms, your vet will prescribe a de-wormer in order to rid your friend of hookworms. Because hookworms can cause other problems, your dog may need supportive care while being de-wormed such as a special diet or iron supplements.

Tapeworms

Ah, the mighty tapeworm! Fresh tapeworms tend to look like tiny white squares in your pet's poop. They are very common in dogs and cats and can be easily treated. Tapeworms are most commonly transmitted by fleas.

Though not pretty to look at, tapeworms don’t do a great deal of harm unless untreated for a long period of time (this is not to say that you shouldn’t take your pet to the vet). Common tapeworm symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and anal itching.

Tapeworms are treated with a medication called praziquantel. It is available in oral as well as injectable form. Your veterinarian will tell you what treatment is best for your dog.

Many pups are born with worms.

Many pups are born with worms.

Whipworms

Whipworms, like tapeworms, are microscopic little guys, unable to be seen by the human eye. They are common in dogs and found throughout the United States. Whipworms are two to three inches long and are very thin.

A dog can become infected by ingesting food or water that just so happens to be contaminated with whipworm eggs. Once your dog swallows the eggs, they hatch and, in three months, the larvae mature into adults who then begin sucking the blood out of your poor, unsuspecting pooch. Because these little worms love blood, they can cause your dog to become dehydrated and anemic. They can also cause nutritional problems.

De-wormers that are effective against whipworms include Safe-Guard Granules, Panacur, and Interceptor (which is also a heartworm preventative). Once your dog is diagnosed with whipworms, your vet will let you know the best course of treatment.

Ask Your Vet

As you have probably figured out by now, worms are nasty little buggers that can cause serious canine health issues. If you suspect that your dog has worms, take them to the vet as soon as possible. The faster you begin treatment, the better.

De-worming medications have come a long way, and there are a variety to choose from. Heartworm preventatives are also available (such as Heartgard-30 Plus), so be sure to ask your veterinarian what is best for your dog. Good luck, and may you and your dog live a happy and worm-free life!

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.

© 2009 Cygstarz

Comments

MPort on September 03, 2020:

HI all. I just got a rescue puppy (10 wks old) from a shelter. He was wormed three times before I got him but he apparently still has them (roundworms to be specific). Vet confirmed and put him and my two indoor cats on medicine. The cats have been almost 100% separate from him. Only interaction has been indirect (for instance: Toby the dog lays on one of us humans, then we have picked up a cat, or they have walked on the same floor). What do you think the chances of the cats having it would be?

Also, I have to admit, I am FREAKING out about myself and my spouse getting roundworm from him. I have no idea how to clean the house because he touches so much. He's just a puppy so he jumps, licks, bites, etc. I have cleaned up poop inside with bleach but my worry is that he goes outside, then tracks in anything that may be on his little paws. Am I overreacting or do I really have to deep-clean EVERYTHING or get rid of the things I can't?

Thanks in advance to anyone with advice! This is my first puppy.

Chun Li on December 28, 2019:

my puppy started pooping wads of worms today out of nowhere. will he be okie??

sherriee rodgers on October 13, 2019:

Hey my puppy name princess she 4 months old she has worms I don’t know what to do

Savannah on July 04, 2017:

I have a new puppy named Oreo, he doesn't eat only if he's really hungry. He hardly poops,he doesn't bark and he sleeps a lot. He threw up this morning so I'm worried..He is 3 months,I could understand if he is lazy and laid back but not eating and not pooping.

Today he threw up worms that moved into a circle and looked like a snake but it was clear and have lines on the sides.. I believe it's round worms but I'm not sur

ashly on May 13, 2016:

My dog has hookwarms but ! she is eating playing around, she has diarrhea, and a little of weight lost. the vet gave me medicine will she be alright ?

Tommy on August 15, 2015:

My dog has a lilttle strange and she getting very skinny and I can't worms in her poop so I don't know what medication I can get her

Cygstarz (author) from Maryland on December 03, 2012:

Hi Sherry...

Sounds like your pup has a case of the tape worm! Don't worry...these are common and can be easily treated. Be sure to take your dog to the vet next Saturday when you have an appointment. In the meantime...keep an eye on him. If he begins to act strangely, vomits, or doesn't eat...you may want to take him to the vet sooner rather than later. Good luck and thank you for your comment.

Sherry on December 02, 2012:

My little doggy has worms, I just got him yesterday and he took his first poop today and I saw little white worms that were moving around. I am panicking. Will my doggy be okay? He isn't vomiting or pooping a lot he is just sitting still and laying around a lot. I have an appointment next saturday, will he be okay by then? Should I give him something over the counter first? Someone Please HELP!!!!

nick on December 11, 2011:

we bought a puppy 2 weeks ago and the owner said that he had dewormed her, due to the state of the place i didn't take his word for it and goit her booked into the vets for her first jabs and a flea and worming treatment...that was 7 days ago. Today she has gone right off her food and has no energy, she went outside for a poo and i was shoicked at what came out of her......piles and piles of white worms, Phoned the vets, nothing to be worried of the wormer is now doing the job and getting rid of them. To all you people that dont think that it is a problem, think again...get them down the vets and get them treated, and do not feed them rich wet food when they have worms...bland food will help the pup and the worms to move through

dog breeder on September 13, 2011:

Surely everyone gives their dogs worming tablets every 3 months. It is what all vets recommend. I have had dogs all my life & never had a problem with worms. A tablet every three months is inexpensive and surely a preventative is always a better option than going for an expensive vet visit!

mmmm on June 06, 2011:

My dog has worm, but I'm not sure what they r.

meee on January 31, 2011:

i think my dog has round worms can i get sick by that?? oh and i have 2 dogs i didn't see which one puked the vomit with the worms so how do i know which one it was before taking them to the doctor/vet?? is there any signs of them having it??

Cygstarz (author) from Maryland on July 17, 2010:

uh oh: If at all possible, you should take your dog to the vet...especially if she is vomitting! Better to be safe than sorry. Good luck and I hope your dog is ok.

uh oh on July 16, 2010:

my dog has worms in her poop and she vomits yellow recently i think she might have roundworms but im not really into going to the vet cause idk where it is but i do know where a pets mart is

Cygstarz (author) from Maryland on August 23, 2009:

Neuffj: THANKS!!!!

Neuffj on August 23, 2009:

This is fab!!! I am directing my readers here!

Shalini Kagal from India on August 19, 2009:

I de-worm them twice a year - so far so good! Just thinking of all those worms inside them is awful!! Very informative - thanks!

Cygstarz (author) from Maryland on August 16, 2009:

DoggyUncle: I'm not surprised! Every time I go to the vet I end up spending a small fortune!

DoggyUncle on August 16, 2009:

I took a dog to the vet with worms. I called ahead and said "i've got fresh poop with worms visible - should I bring it in". Nooooo they said. Instead, the stuck a little thing up my dog's butt and charged an extra $28 bucks to do so. So beware, not all vets want you to bring a sample! Some want to charge you to extract a sample!

Cygstarz (author) from Maryland on August 10, 2009:

A trip to the veterinarian is always a good idea!!

e on August 10, 2009:

I think that i would take my dog to the vet or give her dewormer medicen.