Preventing and Treating Worms in German Shepherds

Updated on July 23, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed's health and wellness.

German Shepherds are fantastic dogs—loyal, intelligent, and beautiful. Unfortunately, dogs are just as prone to health issues as humans are and this breed is often more prone to some conditions than other types of dogs.

One of the issues that you may have to prepare for when you have a German Shepherd is the growth of worms. There are many different forms of intestinal parasites that they can contract, and it’s important that you learn about these so that you can prepare for them and prevent them.

How Can My Dog Get Worms?

If your dog already has worms, then you might be curious as to how they would have contracted them. If they don’t have worms, then you’re probably interested in making sure that you can prevent them from getting worms as best as you can.

These are some of the most common reasons why German Shepherds contract worms.

  • Maternal Transfer

    Dogs can actually be born with worms; most often, in this case, the dog will be born with roundworms that were passed down through their mother. Dogs can also get worms by drinking the milk of a mother who has worms.

  • Eating Infested Meat

    German Shepherds like to hunt and it’s not rare to see them chasing and eating rodents, fleas, or other small animals. Unfortunately, these animals are just as liable to carry parasites, and your dog might catch them if they eat the wrong animal.

  • Being Outside

    Obviously you shouldn’t prevent your dog from going outside, otherwise, it’ll become very unhappy. But it’s important to remember that there is always the risk of picking up worms when your dog goes outside. They may ingest them, scratch themselves and pick them up, or find other ways to introduce worms into their body.

  • Bug Bites

    Mosquitos are known to be carriers of heartworm eggs and can pass these on to your pup if they get bitten.

Common German Shepherd Worms

There are a lot of different types of worms that your German Shepherd might get. These are among the most common:


Roundworms are common in dogs. There are two subspecies of roundworms that commonly concern dogs:

  • Toxicara canis is the more serious form of worm that can do more damage to your dog. This species can also be passed on to humans, and they can grow to be quite large (a few inches long).
  • Toxascaris leonina is less destructive but can still lead to a number of unpleasant symptoms. Much like other worms, roundworms eat the nutrients that your dog needs to grow strong.

Both types of worms are a cloudy white color and generally found in a cylinder shape.


Hookworms are another common parasite that can be found in dogs. They are much smaller than roundworms and they almost look like thread. Hookworms are named after their preferred feeding procedure: by hooking themselves on to the actual wall of your German Shepherd’s bowel, they are able to suck blood easily.

These can be destructive and they have sharp teeth that can lead to intestinal bleeding. Excessive bleeding can lead to anemia and other issues.


Whipworms might have a cool name, but they’re certainly not any less dangerous for your dog. Whipworms have very long necks attached to their bodies which are much shorter and more stout. They bury their necks into your dog’s intestinal walls, which can lead to bleeding and pain.


Tapeworms are segmented worms that look like long, interconnected rice grains. These are perhaps the most recognizable worm and also less dangerous than other parasites, though they can still consume nutrients and deplete your dog’s energy and comfort.


Heartworms aren’t as common in German Shepherds, but they take up residence on your dog’s heart. Enough heartworms can impede the heart from functioning properly, leading to death.

What Types of Worms Has Your German Shepherd Had?

See results

Symptoms of Having Parasites

If you think your German Shepherd has a parasite, then they are probably displaying a number of symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms that can emerge as a result of intestinal worms and parasites can include:

  • Coughing. Heartworm can cause your dog to experience coughing; in some serious cases, roundworms and hookworms can cause coughing.

  • Diarrhea. Diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms of worms.

  • Vomiting. Vomiting is also quite a common occurrence among dogs with worms.

  • Lethargy, lack of energy. Worms eat the nutrients that your dog needs to have energy, and thus dogs with worms are often lethargic.

  • Big belly. If your dog has a lot of worms, their stomach can appear swollen or larger than normal.

  • “Booty scooting.” If your dog is scooting around on the floor to scratch their behind, this could be an indication of worms.

  • Sudden weight loss. Weight loss is one of the most telling signs of a parasite infestation.

  • Lack of appetite or increased appetite. Some dogs lose their appetite as a result of pain caused by worms; others eat more in an attempt to compensate for what nutrients the worm is sapping from them.

Preventing and Treating Worms

The first thing to know is that there’s no sure-fire way to 100% prevent your dog from getting worms. Humans are at risk of getting worms, and dogs are at risk as well. Aside from confining your dog to an unhappy life, you’re always going to run the risk of getting worms.

Some dogs are more susceptible to it than others. We had two German Shepherds at the same time, having very similar lives, one never got any worms, the other did every couple of years.

  • Avoid letting your dog eat raw meat that you are unsure of. When in doubt just cook the meat.

  • You can use natural, dog-safe, essential-oil based bug repellent to prevent mosquito bites. We never had serious mosquito problems so we never use any repellents, but we probably wouldn't use DEET if the risks for parasites are small since it can be harmful to your dog.

  • Make sure that your dog gets regular worming and heartworm prevention treatment from your vet.

If your German Shepherd does get a worm, you’re going to want to go to your veterinarian and make sure that you can get the proper pharmaceutical treatment for them. When you have a puppy and you see him getting thinner don't wait to go to the vet to get worm treatment medication. You don't want to hamper your dog's growth.

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.

© 2019 Sam Shepards


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Emmanuel Asubonteng 

      5 weeks ago

      What type deworm can i give to my shepherd


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)