Worms in Dogs
Worms are everywhere, and they are easily spread. This means your dog can easily pick up a worm from another pet or their environment. Gastrointestinal worms can cause real damage to the gut lining of a dog or puppy, which is why you need to regularly treat your dog and break the cycle of infection.
What Causes Worms in Dogs? Daily habits such as walkies, grooming and exploring can mean worms. Here's what to look out for.
The primary source of infection is when another pet ingests dog and cat faeces that contain worm larvae. Many parasites live in grass or soil making it easy for your dog to pick them up whilst exploring. Dogs can also pick up worms by eating infected eggs, small mammals, undercooked or raw meat.
An infected dog can pass on worms to her new puppies in the womb. The puppy may also be infected whilst nursing by drinking their mother’s milk. Regular worming is important to help stop the spread of worms and ensure a healthy puppy and mum.
Roundworms eggs can attach to your dog's coat and when swallowed have the potential to infect the dog. Pets that do not have preventative treatment from fleas may be at a higher risk of contracting worms because fleas carry tapeworm larvae that can develop into adult tapeworms if swallowed.
Symptoms of worms in dogs
Diarrhoea and vomitingIf your dog is vomiting or has soft stools and diarrhoea it may mean worms but keep in mind it could be something else. Prolonged diarrhoea or vomiting can lead to dehydration, which is why it’s very important to consult your vet.
Malnutrition and poor growthParasites feed on the nutrients in your dog’s stomach and may cause malnutrition and weight loss as nutrients aren't absorbed, affecting your pet's growth.
A distended, swollen abdomenA pot bellied appearance is more commonly seen in puppies who have contracted worms whilst nursing but adult dogs may also have this symptom.
Anaemia (the loss of healthy red blood cells)When healthy gums lose their normal pink colour, appearing pale pink to white, this may be a common sign of anaemia. Other signs may be a loss of appetite or tiredness.
‘Scooting’ along the floorSometimes dogs may seek to relieve themselves of the itch caused by worms by scooting along the ground. They may also lick or bite their bottom. Scooting may also be caused through problems with anal glands.
Worms may be visible in faecal matterWorms may be visible in your dog's stools or might appear around your dog's anus. They may look like moving pieces of rice or, if they are dry, they’ll look like hard yellow specks.
Common Worm Types To Look Out For
RoundwormRoundworms are common in puppies and kittens and can cause weight loss, poor coat, pot belly, loss of appetite, vomiting and more. Roundworms can be from 10 - 18cm in length and can cause disease in humans.
HookwormHookworms can affect dogs and cats of all ages. They can cause anaemia, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and more. Hookworm adults suck blood from the wall of the intestine and can be 1 - 2cm in length. Hookworms can also cause disease in humans.
WhipwormWhipworms are only found in dogs and don't always cause disease, however when they do, symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, anameia, abdominal pain and straining. Adult whipworms suck blood from the wall of the intestine and can be from 4 - 7 cm in length.
TapewormTapeworms can affect both dogs and cats, often causing no symptoms. The adult tapeworms attach to the gut wall and absorb nutrients. Tapeworms have a high potential of causing disease in humans.
Treating intestinal worms
It’s important to treat your dog for worms regularly to break their life cycle and keep your pet safe.
If your dog has worms, chat with your vet or pet health professional for advice. Worms can infect dogs in many ways, so it is necessary to:
- treat the dog itself with an allwormer
- reduce the environmental contamination by daily disposal of droppings
- remove tapeworm intermediate hosts eg. fleas
- never allow dogs to feed on offal of any species
Remember to “Repeat and Defeat” intestinal worms with an allwormer like Drontal® regularly. It can be challenging to keep up your worming treatments but with Drontal® treat every 3 months or at the start of each season.