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How to Tell if Your Dog Has Worms

Updated on November 30, 2015
How you can tell if you dog has worms, and what to do about it.
How you can tell if you dog has worms, and what to do about it.

Worms are one of the most common health problems for a dog. Fortunately, most cases are also very treatable. Since your dog can't speak English, you need to be vigilant and watch for any unusual behavior.

Unfortunately some types of worms do not cause noticeable symptoms until they dog's health is at risk. But the most common types are fairly obvious.

Signs of worms include fatigue, scratching the rear, and visible worms in the feces.
Signs of worms include fatigue, scratching the rear, and visible worms in the feces.

Some signs that your dog may have worms include:

  • Visible worms or eggs in the feces. This is the most common sign of infection. However, not all kinds are visible to the naked eye.
  • Visible worms in fur or around dog's rear. Tapeworms in particular may appear as small moving segments which later dry out to resemble grains of rice.
  • Scratching or rubbing of rear. If you dog scratches their bottom on the ground or against furniture, they may be itchy due to infection. Itchiness however can also have other causes.
  • Visible worms in vomit.
  • Bloated stomach or belly. This is often seen in puppies who get worms from their mother.
  • Weakness, increased appetite, constant hunger, and weight loss. Worms steal their host's nutrition.
  • Diarrhea, particularly with blood.

How Worms Spread

  • Through mother. Newborn puppies can become infected by their mothers. Roundworm eggs form dormant cysts in adult dogs. These eggs themselves are not treatable, but are activated when the host dog becomes pregnant. A mother dog's milk can also pass roundworms to puppies.
  • Dirt. Roundworm eggs and hookworm larvae can live in dirt. If you dog comes into contact with infected dirt, they can become infected.
  • Fleas. Young tapeworms can reside in fleas, infecting a dog that swallows fleas while grooming.
  • Hunting. Wild animals may carry worms. If your dog hunts or eats wildlife, it may become infected.

There are several different types of worms that afflict dogs, from roundworms and whipworms to the sometimes fatal heart worm.
There are several different types of worms that afflict dogs, from roundworms and whipworms to the sometimes fatal heart worm.
  • Roundworms can grow up to six inches in length. They live in the intestines and appear as small, noodle-like bits in fecal matter. They cause swollen bellies and are an especially big problem for puppies.
  • Hookworms are thin and small. They bite or "hook" into the intestinal wall and are not always visible to the naked eye. Hookworms can cause internal bleeding, resulting in bloody stool or anemia.
  • Tapeworms are flat, long worms that live in the intestines. Segments of the tapeworm break off and are visible to the naked eye as rice-like grains after they dry out.
  • Heartworms are among the most dangerous because they are so hard to detect. They are spread by mosquito bites. Normally, until the larvae mature and congregate inside the dog's heart, they produce no symptoms or signs of illness. Heart damage can be fatal. Signs of heartworm infection are weakness, coughing during exercise, severe weight loss, fainting, coughing up blood and, finally, congestive heart failure.
  • Whipworms are thin and thread-like. They live in the large intestine. Adults may be visible to the naked eye, but do not tend to appear in feces so can be difficult to detect. A microscope examination of several fecal samples may be necessary. Whipworms are one of the most difficult worms to eliminate, but they are treatable.

How to Treat Your Dog

If you think your dog has worms, take your pet to the veterinarian.

There are safe and effective treatments available, which your vet will likely prescribe. For the most common types of worms, there are some all-in-one medications in flavored chewable tablets.

  • Iverhart Max tablets are used to treat common worm conditions. The tables include three active ingredients: ivermectin, to prevent heartworm, pyrantel pamoate, to treat roundworms and hookworms, and praziquantel, to treat tapeworms.
  • Selamectin is also used to treat and prevent heartworms, hookworms, and roundworms.
  • Milbemycin oxime is used to prevent heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, and some whipworms.
  • Paziquantel is used to treat tapeworms.

Some vets even recommend that especially vulnerable dogs take monthly tablets to prevent worms.

Has your dog ever had worms? Share your advice here.

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    • profile image

      Judy 2 days ago

      My dog was rescued from a shelter where he was taken from a kennel he was always in and abused. I immediately got him check at my vet and he had a lump on his back at the time and hot spots near his tail. He has always itched around there and bitten. Lately he's been scratching under my bed against the frame constantly. Tonight I went to give him his haircut. I cut it really short once a month. Tonight I noticed that there was something moving as I got to his right side. A bunch of small white bugs it appeared. So I got the clippers at that point and shaved him all the way to the skin on his back and sides and ended up shaving his whole body. As I was shaving him I could see them coming out of his skin. They seemed to get worse when I shaved that spot. Also about a week or so ago I noticed a white bump form on his right side. He's had them before and I thought nothing of it. These looked like maggots. When I gave him a bath in dawn and oatmeal, I noticed his entire body was covered in red spots. I read to put aloe or something on it to sooth it but I feel like there are a lot more in him. Advice would be wonderful until his appointment which is Monday.

    • profile image

      sam stanners 2 months ago

      earlier this morning my dogs stools had a tape worm in it i have given him the correct dose of tablet now all funny noises are comming out of his stomach is this normal

    • profile image

      Gilbert Garcia 5 months ago

      My dog has diarrhea but has non of the symptoms that worms would give you but I say that in poop there were white round things in her poop and they didn't move or anything don't really know what they are if anyone does let me know be really helpful

    • profile image

      Emily Wiggins 5 months ago

      My dog has had worms before. I think he has them again because he was scooting his rear on the floor but it might be something that is just itching him. When he had them I took him to the vet and got some tablets that helped really well.

    • profile image

      dyamane0726@yahoo.com 6 months ago

      How would I no if I'm giving my dog the right worm medicine? I'm unable to afford to take my little pincher about 9 years old. I usually give him "worm out" tablets every 3-6 months. Can I buy these medicines in pet store ? Or he only can get treated by get?

    • Schmusse katze profile image

      Schmusse katze 4 years ago

      Very nicely done. Just one thing I think you need to change. Worms in dogs excrete an enzyme that decreases the dogs appetite.

    • profile image

      whitebob_king 4 years ago

      i just keep on washing her hair.

    • imagelist lm profile image

      imagelist lm 4 years ago

      Nice lens...

    • GeekGirl1 profile image

      GeekGirl1 4 years ago

      Thanks for this lens. Informative.

    • bossypants profile image

      bossypants 4 years ago from America's Dairyland

      Just got back from the vet with a worm diagnosis. Yuck! We've administered the tablets she prescribed and now know what to look for. Although our dog was on a heartworm med, she somehow ended up with a tapeworm and round worms. Totally grossed out but glad we found them before the infestation got worse. Thank you fro your informative article!

    • profile image

      AnimalHouse 4 years ago

      I will take note of the dewormer products that you have listed. This lens is very helpful! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @Cookie2112: I agree that a natural wormer is a better solution - chemical wormers are toxic. It's easy enough to get information online; I just found out that grapefruit seed extract and fresh garlic, freshly ground pumpkin seeds, or wheat germ oil are all good natural de-wormers. Unfortunately, they don't tell you the dosage or how to administer the remedy.

    • profile image

      Cookie2112 4 years ago

      @suepogson: i have just bought a puppy from a large home breeder and she seemed really knowledgeable on lots of things. She told me that butternut squash is a natural wormer for dogs - you must chop it all up and including the pips in the mixture give to the dog about 3 times a week (1 tablespoon) in with regular dog food. She said it works on all her dogs and they love it too, she told me that the worming treatments you buy from a pet shop / vets are basically pesticides!!!

    • profile image

      tamibradfitzgerald 4 years ago

      I dewormed my 8 week old puppy a week ago. There are still a few random worms in her leavings but I'm noticing small white pod like things. Can anyone tell me what these are?

    • profile image

      nichole-sams 4 years ago

      We wormed our puppies 7-10 days ago and they have a pot belly. Why?

    • suepogson profile image

      suepogson 4 years ago

      I live on a tropical farm with outdoor dogs - some worms seem unpreventable so it's treatment I'm looking for - natural if possible.

    • profile image

      kaylee-johnson-31392 4 years ago

      ok what i do know about worms is that they can be ingested through other animals pooping on grass and the dog eats the grass, you can buy de worming medication at walmart in the pet section where the grooming stuff is, and read the label, it will tell you if its safe to use on puppies. that's just common sense, no need to panick. :)

    • profile image

      maymay0522 4 years ago

      i have a pit puppy that just turned a month yesterday and i saw worms tonight, since he is too young to go outside can my other dogs get the worms? a 9 month old pit bull and a 10 year old yorkie poo

    • profile image

      mrssnake08 4 years ago

      i have a 9 week old pitbull puppy...he has worms I took him to petco to get his shots and a dewormer but it seems that his belly isn't getting any smaller how do you know if he has gotten rid of the worms

    • profile image

      ellen-gipe 4 years ago

      Good Heavens!! Brand new puppy born 11-11-12; WE adopted Sat. Feb 2,2013, 6 hours into adoption the puppy takes a poo and about 1 inch white worms dominate in poo. What on earth do I do??!! We bought her from an elderly lady and she gave us Shot information, and also the Registration to get the puppy registered as she is a pure bread. Very loving dog, but I also have another dog and now I am completely freaking out. ANYONE, PLEASE respond that has an answer that will be helpful.

    • profile image

      mary-podmore 4 years ago

      @lalee1963: I think it's tapeworms, I was looking for the explanation myself because my dog is having the same issue. They are coming from her rear area and in her stool, and look like maggots until they dry. Hope this helps.

    • profile image

      lalee1963 4 years ago

      @bad-ass-cass23: I'm thrilled to hear that! Like I said, she has no other signs so I was hoping it was an external factor.

    • profile image

      bad-ass-cass23 4 years ago

      @lalee1963: I've seen these dried up worms on my floor before when I didn't even have a dog. I'm not sure what they were but I don't THINK they came from your dog....

    • profile image

      goodgreen2 4 years ago

      I have 2 puppies there brothers and sister... by reading this page I realize my puppies has the roundworms... but they are only 5 weeks old.. and I wanna know if I can start treating my puppies now? I don't have the $ to take them to the Vet... what can i do?

    • profile image

      lalee1963 4 years ago

      @auntkimmie: It's definitely not maggots. These are much longer but still very small. They are definitely worms of some kind. Thanks though!

    • profile image

      auntkimmie 4 years ago

      @lalee1963: to me it sounds like maggots but im not sure what they come from

    • profile image

      lalee1963 4 years ago

      I recently moved to the south and have seen some of the strangest bugs since then. Lately I have been seeing these weird dried out worm things on the kitchen floor. They are thin and very short. Are they coming from my dog (who have no signs of worms, otherwise) or could be be something from outside?

    • amytrumpeter profile image

      Amy Trumpeter 4 years ago from Oxford

      I usually worm him every 3-6 months. Thanks for this great lens.

    • profile image

      crstnblue 4 years ago

      Very informative lens! : )

      Thanks for sharing!

      Blessed!

    • Donallphin profile image

      Donallphin 4 years ago

      Great photos and a fine lens. Very informative.

    • profile image

      HeavenSweetBliss 4 years ago

      What a great lense! ...very informative and helpful!

    • profile image

      mistaben 4 years ago

      Excellent information and helpful lens, thank you for sharing =)

    • amytrumpeter profile image

      Amy Trumpeter 4 years ago from Oxford

      This is a great and informative lens, thanks!

    • profile image

      AnimalHouse 4 years ago

      Proper care and monthly check ups are great ways to avoid worms.

    • profile image

      xtianfriborg13 4 years ago

      Thank God our dog is safe from worms. He did not show any of the symptoms. Lucky him!

    • profile image

      new-jersey-veterinarian 4 years ago

      Well written posting

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What a great and informative lens. :)

    • profile image

      mko9819 5 years ago

      @Corinna_pupylover: If your dogs are losing weight but still eating normally (or more is usually the case) then they either have tapeworm or hook worms and need to be treated right away. Feed stores usually have the cheapest worm medicine. It's not to expensive to take care of but well worth it. Except when you have to clean up the poop that has the dead tapeworm in it. Then it's just disgusting.

    • spids1 profile image

      spids1 5 years ago

      Great lens very well written.

    • blue autumn profile image

      blue autumn 5 years ago

      My dog never had any problems with worms but one of my cats was super bloated for a long time and seemed perfectly fine because she had been that way since we got her. On a trip the vet they recommended a dewormer and she got super thin! guess that answered that

    • profile image

      lynberg 5 years ago

      @Corinna_pupylover: take him to the vet with a sample of his fresh fecal matter. You have a responsibility to take care of your dog's health. They also need to draw blood to find out if it's heartworms. The longer you wait, the worse it can get.

    • profile image

      lynberg 5 years ago

      @becky-goldstein-7: take him to the vet with a sample of his fresh fecal matter. They also need to draw blood to find out if it's heartworms. You have a responsibility to take care of your dog. The longer you wait, the worse it can get.

    • profile image

      Corinna_pupylover 5 years ago

      @becky-goldstein-7: I have the same problem my puppy is getting skinnier but she is still active and eats her food but she seems to be gettig skinnier?!?

      Anybody with A solution Please help me I love her and shes a German sheapord and a lab mix and I really want to see her grow :(

    • profile image

      Dianeyp LM 5 years ago

      My dog has managed to avoid worms so far, but my cat hasn't! great lens

    • profile image

      becky-goldstein-7 5 years ago

      My dog has lost weight but still active and eating his food with no problem? What can be the problem?

    • profile image

      Aleayah 5 years ago

      Thanks for great info!

    • KanesCanines profile image

      KanesCanines 5 years ago

      Great information! A must read for a person who has a dog or puppy or thinking on getting a dog. Great stuff!

    • profile image

      handmadewithlovealways 5 years ago

      my dog had a litter of pups just over a month ago - they do not seem to have worms but she does? Which would be the best course of action for me?

    • profile image

      selene-lindhout 5 years ago

      I have a litter of puppies, i treated them fro fleas yesterday with stronghold flea and worm and today i found a 5 inchworm in the bed... I am hoping this will be the first of many to die im worried about my puppies.

    • profile image

      tonimerritt 5 years ago

      what are u giving your dogs as a de-wormer?

    • profile image

      dean-smith-315428 5 years ago

      I just got a 6 week old pup today and within the hour it threw up roundworms. This being my first dog I was upset but I went out to TSC and got a dewormer. Gave him just a half teaspoon. He just just passed an incredibly large amount of worms less than 12 hours later. Possibly the grossest thing I have ever seen.

    • profile image

      tonimerritt 5 years ago

      @victoria-greer-980: 4 yr old pug vomited up what looks like a hookworm and has been on ivehart max forever

    • profile image

      tonimerritt 5 years ago

      @victoria-greer-980: looking for that answer as well

    • profile image

      PuppyPadLady 5 years ago

      Great info..thanks for sharing!

    • poorwendy lm profile image

      poorwendy lm 5 years ago

      Worms in dogs sound painful. Yuck!

    • profile image

      mistahtee845 5 years ago

      @kdanielle711: thats usually from eating things that are not food. Like eating string. They get part of the stuff stuck in the butt till you or the dog pull the string out.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Great coverage of worms. Fortunately, my dog has never had them and is on prevention.

    • profile image

      victoria-greer-980 5 years ago

      My dog he is 2 months and he vomited up a long white worm.... is that round worm? it was round.

    • WriterDave profile image

      WriterDave 5 years ago

      My puppy had worms, no fun!

    • profile image

      bunitasmith 5 years ago

      Thank you for the information. Great lens.

    • profile image

      derekswifey20 5 years ago

      @beach1234: Sounds like roundworms to me since that's what my puppy had around the same age, and that's exactly the way I found out he had them. The vet confirmed it was indeed Roundworms.

    • profile image

      stephen-perry 5 years ago

      @purefoy09: Hey purefoy09.

      Mate I just purchased a British x Americian Staffordshire poor little guy had belly worms . You can purchase worming tablets from a vet or from the dog/cat food isle at your local supermarket. I think I picked up a 3 pack of tablets for about $17.00 ( $5.66 a tablet) . I fed my pup a tablet on Sunday while his belly was HUGE !!!!! The next afternoon on the Monday after work I checked on my little guy his belly is normal size now and you can see his definition. Looks like he had worms and the tablets fromn the super markert did the trick. I believe you have to do this once a month ?? I could be wrong .

      Hope this helps .

    • profile image

      purefoy09 5 years ago

      some people have found a white puppy and i don't know what kind it is. They have asked me to hold on to it in case we find or ever find the owner. the puppies belly is very bloated and very hungry all the time ...i think it got worms from its mother since it is only like 8 weeks old maybe. i just need to know how to treat this poor guy, p;ease if there is anyone there right now i need help!!!!!

    • profile image

      alana-deweever 5 years ago

      Thanks for the info. Really helped. By the way..that puppy is so adorable in the last pic. What kind of dog is that?

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      chiquitasmom9665 5 years ago

      thank you for the info

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      angelwings1968 5 years ago

      My dog,chloe,has a large belly,shakes at night and rubs her butt on the floor. Could this be worms?

    • profile image

      iluvmybullys 5 years ago

      @justin89: omg take him to the vet immediately that's the only way you will know for sure

    • profile image

      aquarian_insight 5 years ago

      Some great information and advice here. Luckily we've never had to deal with worms. Thank you.

    • profile image

      justin89 5 years ago

      my dog buddy just threw up worms and we gave him dewormer. but now is acting really off. and i don't know if these are all the syptoms of worms. hes very incohearent so dizzy he can't stant and falls over. hes drewling so much and shakeing when hes not cold at all almost looks like tremors. is this just a really bad case of worms or should i be worried it could be anything else?

    • profile image

      justin-fransoo 5 years ago

      @kdanielle711: You should go to your local pet store as your dog seems to have one kind of worms , but there is a pill or chewable tablet that you can buy that treat's many kinds of commun worms dog have . Hope that help's your dog will be fine after a week to 10 days after taking the tablets

    • profile image

      rpmweb 5 years ago

      Thanks for the useful info!

      Fish oil for dogs

    • profile image

      darby-skittles-benjamin 5 years ago

      Y dog nikki recently lost a lot of weight and you can see her cheekbones. She is constantly hungry and this worries me because she is outside a lot and tends to eat rocks and dirt so I was wondering what this might be?

    • profile image

      Petmedication 5 years ago

      Nice Informative Article!

      Pet Medications Online

    • AlphaChic profile image

      AlphaChic 5 years ago

      Luckily, I haven't had to deal with my dog having worms, but I did find your lens very informative.

    • profile image

      kdanielle711 5 years ago

      I just got a five year old rat terrier about two weeks ago. When we first got her, she had ticks and fleas, which we treated for. The people we adopted her from said that she has only had her puppy shots, and she had been an outside dog for the past few months (she was an inside dog before then) and now she lives in my apartment. Today, when I took her out for a walk, her first excrement had came out but there was a little bit hanging out of her rear by a very thin string like thing. She started walking oddly and then sat down and used her two front legs to drag herself forward. She was able to get it off, but I'm worried about her. Can someone please tell me if this is a sign of worms or not?

    • profile image

      HausZweiHomes 5 years ago

      adopted a rescue dog that had worms. It was given a milky substance (I can't remember the name) to squirt in his mouth once for 3 days by the animal shelter where we adopted him. He still has diarrhea, so I'm taking him to the vet tomorrow. I didn't think to check his stool till now and it does have a bit of blood in it. Anyone had this occur?

    • profile image

      HausZweiHomes 5 years ago

      I adopted a rescue dog that had worms. It was given a milky substance (I can't remember the name) to squirt in his mouth once for 3 days by the animal shelter where we adopted him. He still has diarrhea, so I'm taking him to the vet tomorrow. I didn't think to check his stool till now and it does have a bit of blood in it. Anyone had this occur?

    • profile image

      Pangionedevelopers 5 years ago

      congrats, great info

    • profile image

      Edutopia 5 years ago

      Proper care and medical prevention should always be factored in to the cost of owning a dog. If you care for you dog the cost of heartworm prevention is well worth it than having to spend the money to treat them after putting your dog through the suffering of them in the first place.

    • queenofduvetcover profile image

      queenofduvetcover 5 years ago

      My dogs take Iverhart every month to prevent worms. This is a very helpful lens, thank you! =)

    • profile image

      jeremykim2011 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for sharing. Very useful and informative lens.

    • JackieSonia profile image

      JackieSonia 5 years ago

      Your lens is very informative. There's a lot of good advice here. My dog is due for the vet this month and I will make sure I ask questions and maybe find out if she should be on heartworm med. Thanks for sharing

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 5 years ago

      A VERY useful lens.

    • Shana rios Chavez profile image

      Shana rios Chavez 5 years ago

      great lens

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 5 years ago from Sweden

      Good advices - thanks a lot

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      That's exactly why I have regular check ups for my dog.

    • profile image

      peterwrite 5 years ago

      Great tips on dog worms your pets health should high priority to every owner.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      good to know, 'thumbs up' for your explanation.

    • profile image

      jeffn516 6 years ago

      Great lens! Excellent easy to read format and very much appreciated as a pet owner. Thanks!

    • profile image

      kyhillbullies 6 years ago

      Loved it

    • profile image

      andrew77sosa 6 years ago

      Some commons worms and their eggs or larvae are visible to the naked eye. For example, mature roundworms can be six or seven inches long. Tapeworm segments are about the size of a grain of rice. Thus, visible worms or eggs in fecal matter are a clear warning sign that your dog has worms. In general, a decline in health, such as weight loss or dry fur, are all possible signs that your dog has worms, since they steal your dog's nutrition and make your dog sick. Very sick dogs have also been known to vomit worms. dog gates

    • profile image

      buenasmichelle 6 years ago

      Dogs can also feel bad and have worms in their stomachs. This is why it is important that you choose the right veterinarian to check up on your dog. The veterinarian is in charge of giving your dog a check up and writing prescriptions as to how to get rid of the worms. Additional bits of advices on the dogs health are also included in the check up. Check out Yuppy Puppy Boutique Here for more information

    • RetroMom profile image

      RetroMom 6 years ago

      Very helpful and useful lens. My advice is, regular checkup of your dogs to their vet. To make sure their healthy.

    • ThePetGuy profile image

      ThePetGuy 6 years ago

      Great lens! I love my dog and also write about how to keep your dog healthy. Its amazing how people will neglect the simple things about dogs, like dog fleas. I believe dog worms was my biggest pain when we had our black lab.

    • profile image

      thescubadude 6 years ago

      This a really brilliantly written lens! Would you consider doing a guest post for our dog products website blog? I could pay you modest amount for an article.

    • kimark421 profile image

      kimark421 7 years ago

      Hey! This is a great lens. It's important to give your dog preventive care...just like your kids.

      Thanks!

    • profile image

      martialartstraining 7 years ago

      This subject has always kind of grossed me out but i would just like to add that a lot of these parasitic worms can pass to humans so if u fell like your pooch might have worms to keep some distance and to wash your hands after you touch them.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 9 years ago from New York

      Excellent lens with some really good advice and information.5* for well done! I lensrolled you to my dog lens and added you to Faves.

      Top 10 Dog Food

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      thank you for the advice

      relly helpful