Worms in dogs: what you need to know

worms in dogs

Worms can not only make your dog sick, some of them can infect humans too. Read on to learn more about worms in dogs.

 

Intestinal worms in dogs can cause disease that ranges from mild to potentially fatal, particularly in young, malnourished pups. When it comes to these nasty parasites, there are a number of different types you need to be aware of. Luckily, treating and protecting your dog from worms is usually straightforward.


What are Intestinal Worms?

Intestinal worms are parasites that live in your dog’s intestines and feed off blood or other nutrients that they find there. Worms can be very unpleasant for your pooch and some can even be fatal if not treated.

 
There are four major types of worms in dogs to be aware of:

 

  • Roundworms in dogs: Adult roundworms are long, white and spaghetti-like, and live in the intestinal tract.

 

  • Hookworms in dogs: Much shorter than roundworms, hookworms have sharp, biting mouthparts which they use to attach to the intestinal wall to feed on blood. In severe infestations, the level of blood loss can be fatal.

 

  • Whipworms in dogs: Whipworms are an important cause of disease, even in older dogs.  Adult whipworms live in the large intestine where their thin head burrows into the intestinal wall. 

 

  • Tapeworms in dogs: Tapeworms do not generally cause significant signs of illness in dogs. The flea tapeworm, the most common tapeworm infesting dogs in Australia, is transmitted by fleas.  If your dog is infested you may notice them scratching or licking their bottom, and you may see worm segments in their faeces. 

 

What do Dog Worms Look Like?

Occasionally, worms (or segments of worms in the case of tapeworms) may be seen in dog faeces. In puppies with a large roundworm burden, they may even be found in vomit. However, it usually requires laboratory testing by your veterinarian to diagnose a worm infestation as worm eggs are not visible to the naked eye. The most common type of test performed is called a faecal flotation, which is used to look for worm eggs in the faeces.  This test relies on the fact that worm eggs will float when faeces is mixed with certain solutions. Faecal flotation samples are then examined under the microscope to look for eggs. Eggs of different species can look quite different.


How do Dogs Get Worms?
 

If your dog was diagnosed with a worm infestation you may wonder, how did my dog get worms?


Dogs can get worms in many different ways, even if they are very well cared for. Here’s a few different ways that your furry friend can pick up an infestation: 

 

  • Ingesting them: Worm eggs and larvae can be found in any environment where another dog has toileted. Your dog may simply be snuffling around some grass or dirt when they swallow the eggs. Eggs from the environment can also get stuck in fur, so a dog may become infested when grooming themselves.

 

  • Through their skin: Dogs can become infested with hookworm when larvae in a contaminated environment penetrate the skin and migrate to the intestine.  

 

  • Hunting: If your dog hunts or scavenges dead animals, they are at risk of becoming infested with worms.

 

  • Fleas: You may be surprised to hear that fleas cause worms in dogs. Fleas can be infected with flea tapeworm. If your dog swallows an infected flea while grooming it could result in a flea tapeworm infestation.

 

  • From their mother: While they can catch worms in the same way as adult dogs, puppies can also get worms from their mother. This can happen when they are in the womb, or from her milk when they are feeding.


Symptoms of Worms in Dogs

worms in dogs

Symptoms of worms in dogs can vary, depending on the type of worm and the age of your dog. 


So, what are the signs your dog has worms? Here’s a handy list to help you spot worm symptoms:

 

  • With hookworm, the diarrhoea is often bloody, while one of the symptoms of whipworms in dogs may be diarrhoea with mucus. So, if your puppy has diarrhoea, worms may be present and you should speak with your vet.
  • Bloated Stomach: A pot belly is one of the most common symptoms of worms in puppies.
  • Itchy Bottom: One potential sign of worms in dogs is rubbing their bottom on the ground. Some types of worms make that area itchy and this is the only way a dog can scratch that itch. An itchy bottom can also be caused by other problems too, so either way, it’s a sign that it’s time to see your vet.
  • No symptoms: It is important to note that sometimes there are no symptoms at all. For example, typically there are no tapeworm symptoms in dogs. So how do you know if your dog has tapeworms, or any other worm? In some instances, the only way to know is an examination by your vet. For this reason, a regular checkup is essential.

 

Worm Treatment for Dogs

Worms in dogs

The good news is that worm treatment for dogs is easy and highly effective, and dog worming tablets and dewormers can be easily bought over the counter.


The NexGard® Range includes highly effective worming tablets and chewable dog wormers that are popular with dog owners around Australia. Shop the NexGard range and you will find the following options: 

 

  • NexGard SPECTRA®: A great flea and worm treatment for puppies and dogs which protects against the most important intestinal worms, in addition to providing protection against heartworm, fleas, ticks, and mites, all in a tasty monthly chew 

 

  • HEARTGARD30®  PLUS: A highly palatable real beef chew to provide protection against intestinal worms and heartworm.

 

  • ParaGard®: Liver flavoured worming tablets for small and large dogs provide protection against a wide range of intestinal worms.

 

Talk to your vet if you need advice so you can choose the right product for your dog.


Worms can be particularly serious in puppies. Speak with your vet to decide which puppy worming tablets or chews from the NexGard range are best for your new bundle of joy. 


Worms in Dogs FAQ

  • Can worms be transmitted from dogs to humans? 

For some worms, yes. In some cases dog worms can cause serious disease in humans, so regular deworming of your puppy or dog is recommended to protect you and your family. 

 

  • What do worms look like in dog faeces? 

Flea tapeworm segments look like grains of rice, while roundworms look like spaghetti. Your dog may have worms and pass only tiny worm eggs which are too small to be seen, so don’t rely on seeing worms in your dog’s faeces as an indicator of worms.

 

  • How much does it cost to deworm a dog? 

Worm treatments are not usually expensive, but if your dog has other complications from the worm infestation then further tests or treatment may be required. Regular deworming decreases the risk of your dog becoming infested and requiring more expensive treatment.
 

  • My dog pooped worms after deworming. What does this mean? 

That’s a good sign. It means the worms are dead or dying and being ‘passed’ by your pet. Continue regular deworming to treat any new infestations, or speak to your vet if you’re concerned. 

 

  • How old do puppies have to be to be dewormed? 

Depending on the product, puppies can be dewormed from as young as two weeks of age. Be sure to read the product label and speak to your vet for advice on this matter. 

 

  • What is the best all in one dog wormer?

NexGard SPECTRA provides the most complete protection against fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and intestinal worms, all in one tasty, monthly chew. 

 

Want more information on the treatments available for your dog or puppy? Learn more about NexGard SPECTRA, HEARTGARD30  PLUS and ParaGard for protection against worms and other parasites. 

 

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Disclaimer

All content in this document is the property of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Australia Pty. Ltd. and is protected by copyright. You may only use this document for informational, non-commercial, and personal use purposes. You may not modify this document, publish or commercially broadcast it in part or in full (including on a network computer) without our prior written consent. This notice must be retained in all circumstances. Copyright ©2021 Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Australia Pty. Ltd. ®NEXGARD SPECTRA, NEXGARD, HEARTGARD30 and PARAGARD are registered trademarks of the Boehringer Ingelheim Group. All rights reserved. PET-0102-2019. PET-0123-2021.