Does my dog have worms?

While intestinal worms in dogs are common, they are also very treatable. It’s important to be up to date on relevant information about intestinal worms, and how to protect your dog from an infestation.

How do dogs get worms?

Depending on the type of worm, there are different ways in which a dog can get worms.

  • From the environment: dogs may ingest worm eggs (e.g. roundworm) from any environment where another dog has toileted. Hookworm larvae in a contaminated environment (e.g. sand or soil) can infest a dog by penetrating the skin.
  • Hunting: Dogs that hunt or scavenge other animals are at risk of being infested with worms.
  • Grooming: Worm eggs from a contaminated environment can stick to your dog’s fur and then be ingested as your dog grooms themselves.
  • Fleas: Fleas can transmit flea tapeworm. Dogs can become infested if they swallow a flea while grooming.
  • From mum: Puppies can get worms from their mother, either in the womb or through her milk.

Symptoms of worms in dogs

It’s important to watch out for the signs of worms in dogs, such as:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloated abdomen (pot belly)
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Pale gums

If you notice any of these signs, you should speak with your vet. There are other causes of these signs and so it is important for your vet to assess your dog to make a diagnosis.

Sometimes worms or worm segments may be visible in an infested dog’s faeces. However, not all kinds of worms are visible to the naked eye and so if you don’t see them it doesn’t mean your dog is not infested.

Some types of worm can cause irritation around your dog’s bottom, and the resulting itchiness can lead to your dog rubbing its bottom along the ground or on furniture. It is worth noting that this ‘scooting’ behaviour can also be due to issues completely unrelated to worms, such as anal gland problems.

Sometimes there are no obvious signs that your dog has worms. In these cases, the only way to diagnose a worm infestation is for a vet to conduct a faecal examination.

worms in dogs 2
worms in dogs 2

Roundworm symptoms

Roundworm infestations in puppies are common. Puppies can get roundworms from their mother when they are in the womb, or from her milk when they are feeding. They can also be infested by ingesting eggs from the environment or by consuming rodents or birds. Symptoms of roundworm infestation in puppies may include a pot-bellied appearance, stunted growth and diarrhoea. Roundworms can also cause disease in people.  For more information, click here.

Hookworm symptoms in dogs

Hookworms are less than a centimetre long with hook-like mouth parts. Hookworm symptoms can include bloody diarrhoea, weight loss and anaemia. Severe infestations can be fatal. Dogs get hookworms in a few different ways:

  • Puppies can acquire hookworm from their mother through the milk
  • Hookworm larvae in a contaminated environment (e.g. sand or soil) can penetrate the dog’s skin
  • Dogs may ingest hookworm larvae from a contaminated environment

Hookworms can also cause disease in people. For more information, click here.

Tapeworm symptoms in dogs

Dogs get tapeworms by ingesting an infested intermediate host. For example, flea tapeworms are transmitted when a dog ingests an infested flea and hydatid tapeworms are transmitted when dogs eat the offal (organs) of infested grazing animals (e.g. sheep or kangaroos).

There are usually no symptoms of tapeworm infestation in dogs, although flea tapeworm segments passed by infested dogs may be visible in the faeces or around the anus – they look like small white grains of rice. Both hydatid tapeworm and flea tapeworm can infest and cause disease in people. For more information click here.

Dog ringworm symptoms

Ringworm is not actually caused by a worm. It is a fungal infection which can cause skin lesions in dogs and cats. It is also zoonotic which means that it can be transmitted from animals to humans. If you notice any skin lesions on your pet it is best to speak to your vet.

Whipworm symptoms

Whipworms are a parasite of the large intestine. The symptoms of whipworms in dogs can include watery or bloody diarrhoea, weight loss and lethargy.


  • How old do puppies have to be to deworm them?

    Deworming of puppies typically starts from 2 weeks of age, but it is important to check the recommended starting age before using a product as it will vary. 

    ParaGard® Allwormer for Dogs is registered to be given from 2 weeks of age. NexGard SPECTRA® for Dogs can be used in puppies from 8 weeks of age and 1.35 kg bodyweight.

  • My dog has tapeworms, what should I do?

    ParaGard Allwormer for Dogs is a liver flavoured worming tablet which treats and controls a wide range of intestinal worms, including flea tapeworm and hydatid tapeworm. If you have any concerns or questions about your dog’s health, it’s best to speak to your vet.

  • How long can a dog have worms?

    Some worms in dogs can live for months or even years and so it is important to deworm regularly.  NexGard SPECTRA for Dogs provides the most complete protection against fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and intestinal worms, all in one tasty chew. ParaGard Allwormer for Dogs is a liver flavoured worming tablet which treats and controls a wide range of intestinal worms, including tapeworm.




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Intestinal worms such as roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm can infect your puppy and cause illness. Read on to learn more about worms in puppies and how to protect against them.

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