What to Do If Your Dog Has Worms

Worms in dogs is relatively common as they can easily pick them up from external environments. Some can be relatively harmless, although may cause some discomfort, whereas others can be more serious. Your dog can easily contract worms by indirectly ingesting worm eggs or larvae via soil, stools or infected hosts. There are different types of parasitic worms which can infect your dog, affecting different areas such as intestines, heart and lungs.

Signs your dog has worms

What can be worrying about worm infestations is that in some cases they are asymptomatic, meaning your dog may display no physical symptoms. This is why it is so important to regularly use a preventative worming treatment to avoid this scenario altogether.

So, how do you know if your dog has worms?

Thankfully, in most cases there are some symptoms which may be present to alert you to a potential worm infestation in your dog. These include:

  • Worms are visible in faeces
  • Scooting – scratching or rubbing rear on the ground of against furniture
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea (with or without blood)
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Lethargy
  • Inappetence
  • Insatiable appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness

However, as many of these symptoms can be signs of other health concerns, the best way to know how to tell if a dog has worms is to seek advice from a vet so you can receive an accurate diagnosis.

Types of Dog Worms

  • Roundworms – live in the intestines and can grow up to half a foot long.
  • Whipworms – reside in the large intestine and are thin and thread like in shape.
  • Tapeworms – infect the intestines and are long and flat in appearance.
  • Hookworms – not always visible to the naked eye, these small and thin worms hook or bite onto the intestinal wall.
  • Heartworm – one of the most dangerous types of worms, this disease can be fatal but usually only contracted through mosquitos, so rare in the UK.
  • Lungworm – these worms can be life threatening and most preventative treatment is available by prescription only.

Causes of worms in dogs

Parasites and worms live naturally in our environment and easily find their way inside your dog. Your dog is most at risk from worms in the following situations:

  • Young puppies can easily contract roundworms from their mothers’ milk.
  • Dogs with fleas have an increased risk of ingesting tapeworms, which live inside the fleas, when grooming.
  • Roundworm and Hookworms can be contracted simply from you pup walking or playing in infected soil.
  • Hunting and eating wildlife such as rabbits, deer and rodents increases the chances of your dog ingesting worms residing in the wild prey.
  • Lungworm and heartworm can be contracted through specific hosts such as mosquitos and ingestions of slug and snails.

Risks of dog worms

Left untreated, parasitic worms in your dog can cause many potential health concerns which vary depending on the specific type of worm. However, by default, any type of worm infestations will affect your beloved pooch on some level, from pain and discomfort to increased risk of future health problems and disease.

In some cases, such as heartworm and lungworm, the disease can be fatal.

Therefore, to ensure their safety, as soon as you notice any signs of worms in your dog, consult a qualified vermination for a precise diagnosis and treatment plan.

Can humans get worms from dogs?

Of the different types of worms your dog may have, there are some such as whipworms, lungworm and heartworm which can not be passed onto humans.

However, there are others, including roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms which can be passed to humans.

Preventing worms in dogs

Worms and parasites can easily be prevented with a routine course of wormer. Your vet will be able to advise on the best and most appropriate brand to choose as some over the counter treatments are not of the same strength as prescription grade worming medication available at a veterinary practice.

Each brand may also differ in terms of what types of worms which can be treated, so be sure to check what is covered before purchasing and if you’re unsure your local vets will be happy to provide worming advice over the phone, most often free of charge.