Intestinal parasitic worms are a common issue that can infect your dog and cause a number of health concerns. Intestinal parasites can be easily transmitted to your furry companion by consuming soil, water, feces, or food that has been contaminated with parasite eggs or spores. Although the thought of parasites in your dog may make you feel sick to your stomach, just remember that this is a very common health concern that is easily treatable after a brief assessment with your veterinarian.
So how do you prevent your dog from becoming infected? After all, most pets have a tendency to get into things that they know they shouldn’t. So how do you stop them from eating whatever catches their attention?And where exactly are dogs most at risk for getting infected with intestinal parasites?
If you find a worm infestation in your dog’s poop, your dog is most likely suffering from some type of parasitic infection. While finding worms in your dog’s poop may be quite alarming, just know this is a health issue that can be easily treated with professional help.
In more cases than not, your dog will not show actual worms in their poop, but solely fragments of white specks or small abnormalities in their stool. As you will learn, most of these parasitic infections are accompanied by physical signs or changes in gastrointestinal health.
This article will review the various types of parasites that can infect your dog, the symptoms, and what you should do to help. If your dog has worms in their poop, seek veterinarian help as soon as possible. Although most cases of parasites are minor, severe infestations can still occur, which can cause major issues if left untreated.
Types of Intestinal Worms Found in Dogs
There are several common types of worms that can be found in dog’s poop. The most common are roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. Since only a few of these can be seen easily by the human eye, it’s important to get routine checkups by your veterinarian.
Roundworm, also known as ascarid, is a type of larvae that live within an animal’s tissues. This form is often passed down to puppies and kittens by their mothers while they are still in the womb. Once a puppy is born, they can also get roundworm through their mother’s milk if she is infected herself. Roundworms can lay dormant in a dog’s tissue for quite some time and eventually come back during or after pregnancy.
When a parasite infects a dog, it will host within the puppy’s small intestine and will eventually produce eggs. After some time, some of the eggs will be passed through the dog’s stool and can potentially spread to other household pets. Roundworms are commonly spread from one animal to the other through the consumption of stool, which is why it’s especially important to clean up after your dog.
These eggs can also live for years in soil, which is another way dogs become infected with intestinal worms later on in life. In severe cases, dogs that have a high infestation of roundworms can suffer intestinal blockage, leading to severe health complications or even death.
Although rarely spotted in a dog’s stool, whipworms in dogs are another common parasite that can live inside your pet. You can find whipworms in the cecum, which is the first section in your dog’s large intestine.
This type of parasite can be difficult to diagnose because, unlike the roundworms that can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day, the whipworm in dogs can only produce a few eggs at a time. This means that even after several stool samples, a whipworm infestation can be challenging to diagnose.
Most dogs who become infected with whipworm have consumed whipworm eggs through soil or other substances. They can also acquire whipworm if they live in a kennel or an area with infected dogs.
In minor cases, dogs with whipworm may show little symptoms, however, if it becomes an infestation, the dog may experience bloody diarrhea or weight loss.
If you think your dog has whipworm, your vet will conduct a stool test and examine it for any eggs.
Also known as Ancylostoma caninum, hookworms are blood-sucking parasites that can cause significant damage to your dog’s overall health. Hookworms got their name because of the way they “hook” on to the intestinal lining and suck the blood vessels within the intestinal tract.
This type of worm lives within the small intestine and can be transmitted from mother to baby or through contaminated environments. Unlike other parasites, hookworm can also be caused by direct contact with the skin, usually through a dog’s paw pads.
Because these parasites feed on their host’s blood, they are known to cause severe anemia if left untreated. Other symptoms that a dog is suffering from hookworms is if they experience weight loss, dehydration, or dark and bloody stool.
Once a hookworm has infected a dog, they will travel through the body until they reach the small intestine. From there, they will start to hatch their eggs and continue this unforgiving cycle.
One of the most common types of parasites found in dogs are tapeworms. These parasites are transmitted when a dog consumes an infected flea. Adult fleas are common carriers of tapeworms and are usually ingested when a dog is cleaning or licking themselves.
Tapeworms are flat, white parasites that feed within a dog’s gut. These tapeworms are composed of multiple segments, and can grow anywhere from 4 to 8 inches long. In most cases, if a dog is infected with tapeworm, their stool will contain segments that have broken off from the adult parasite. These segments appear to be white specks that can either show up in their stool or vomit.
Just like any other type of parasite, a dog suffering from tapeworm will need a physical examination to be properly diagnosed. Once the vet can figure out the type of parasite that is harming your pup, they can prescribe an anti-parasitic medication and an appropriate course of treatment.
Causes of Worms in Dogs
As said before, the number one cause of dogs becoming infected with worms is through consumption. Whether it’s the soil in the backyard or a stagnant water source found at the dog park, there are many environments that a dog may accidentally consume parasites or larvae.
Keep in mind that worms are a common health concern for pets. Even though severe cases can be deadly, most animals will show no symptoms at all and will have no significant health problems linked to this infestation.
However, if you are concerned about your dog becoming infected by different types of worms, make sure you are always careful about what they are eating. While this may seem impossible (especially if your dog likes to eat everything in sight), make it a part of their daily training. Never allow your dog to eat any substances that are not found in their food bowl.
Symptoms of Worms in Dogs
Depending on the type of worm and how severe the issue is, they may show very little to no signs at all. The majority of these symptoms are very broad, which can make diagnosing the issue at hand even more of a challenge.
As a general rule of thumb, always take note of any physical or behavioral changes you see within your dog. Although it may be subtle, even small symptoms can indicate a more serious underlying issue that is causing internal problems for your furry friend.
Common symptoms of worms in dogs include: