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How Do Dogs Get Worms?

How Do Dogs Get Worms

All dog owners will have to deal with worms at some point in their lifetime. Statistically, most dogs get some type of worms during their life. Using a dog dewormer is the most effective way to prevent works, but how do dogs get worms, exactly?

We'll take a look at the different types of worms and how each can be contracted by your pet. Knowing the way dogs get worms can help you further in your battle against them. I will then explain the way to prevent them, and how you can get rid of an infestation.

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How Do Dogs Get Worms?

How Do Dogs Get WormsYou may be wondering just how do dogs get worms in the first place. Your dog’s environment is likely kept very clean, so how does this happen? Different types of worms get into your dog in different ways.

Roundworms are often passed through the uterus and milk of the mother to the puppy. Your veterinarian will worm your puppy as part of its routine first exams.

No matter how clean you keep your dog’s environment, you cannot avoid contact with insects. Tapeworm is usually caused from your dog eating fleas that contain tapeworm eggs.

Infected mosquitos spread heartworm and can be especially problematic in certain areas of the country. Your veterinarian will suggest testing and a monthly preventative that will protect your dog from infestation. Some newer products can also provide flea and tick protection, thus avoiding tapeworm contamination as well.

Hookworms and whipworms can be found in moist humid environments and can survive many years in some areas. This is why cleaning and sanitation in kennels is so important. Even with a clean area for your dog, worms can still become a health issue at some point in your dog’s life, so learning how do dogs get worms and how to deal with them early on can be key to successful treatment.

Identifying Worm Infections

How Do Dogs Get WormsUnderstanding the conditions and types of worms is crucial. Here is a good guide on everything about worms in dogs.

As a dog owner becoming familiar with and being able to identify worm infections is very important. These types of parasitic infections can happen to any dog. Start with examining your dog’s feces thoroughly. He could be completely free of symptoms, and you could still find physical evidence of worms in its feces.

Since some worm types live in the gut or pass through it, you will find evidence of the infestation at different stages of their life cycle. You may see actual worms, but sometimes the eggs or larvae are harder to spot and require a microscopic exam.

Tapeworms can be very long, but usually break off in tiny segments. You can check for eggs near the anus, where they can wriggle out. They can also get collected in the fur around this area and will look much like cream colored sesame seeds or small grains of rice.

Types of Worms

Before answering the question how do dogs get worms, you need to know what types of worms are out there. Trying to distinguish between all the different types of worms can be difficult. While you may figure out how to identify tapeworm, roundworms look similar to spaghetti noodles. Other worms will require the help of your veterinarian to distinguish them apart.

Worm infections will get worse the longer that they are left untreated. Your vet will run the appropriate tests and determine the type of worms that is affecting your dog so that the right treatment can be provided. The more common types of worms include:

1. Roundworms

One of the most common type of intestinal worm in dogs is roundworms. Roundworms are highly transferrable from a mother dog to her puppies, which is why puppies are routinely wormed during their first vet visit. These worms actively reproduce with the female roundworm producing over 200,000 eggs in just one day. Severe infestations if not treated can result in death through intestinal blockage.

2. Whipworms

This type of parasite is often difficult to diagnose as it is so small it may take several stool samples to indicate the presence of whipworms. Whipworms are often described as threadlike and live in the cecum, the entrance to the large intestine and colon. The eggs can survive outside the body in warm, moist environments for up to five years, so using a scooper right away is good for neighborhood sanitation and everyday health.

3. Hookworms

There are a variety of different intestinal parasites known as hookworms that feed on your dog’s blood and cause anemia and can be fatal.

4. Tapeworms

The most common type of tapeworms “Dipylidium caninum” is an intestinal parasite that is acquired by consuming fleas. Tapeworms can also be found in humans.

5. Heartworms

One of the most deadly and preventable types of worms in dogs.  A threadlike worm that hosts upon your dog’s heart, lungs, and without treatment will result in death.

6. Lungworms

Lungworms are at type of parasitic worm that affects the lungs and trachea resulting in severe respiratory infections. Lungworms are a shared infectious disease with foxes and cats.

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Getting Rid of Worms in Dogs

You need to keep track of when your dog was wormed last. If you don’t know then that should make you even more alert to watch for symptoms of worms.

Since there are different types of parasites, the symptoms can vary. The common symptoms of worms that you should watch for are:

  • diarrhea possibly with blood
  • abdominal pain
  • weight loss
  • vomiting
  • loss of coat
  • pot-bellied appearance
  • coughing
  • exercise intolerance
  • labored breathing

Intestinal parasites tend to cause more of the stomach issues. Heartworms, however, effect the heart, causing symptoms such as coughing and labored breathing. Though there are ways to try to identify worm infections, some infections are internal and require blood work. Others are excreted in your dog’s feces.

Now that we know how do dogs get worms, we need to find out how to get rid of them. Your veterinarian will diagnose and treat your dog’s worms appropriately. Being able to identify your pet’s infection promptly and getting him into your vet’s office as soon as possible is the best way to get rid of worms.

Allowing an infection to go untreated can result in what is known as a “heavy” infection, and can include a great number of adult worms. These types of infections can be more difficult to treat, and may ultimately lead to death.

Most infections are treated with deworming medications, which can be hard on your dog causing additional abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. Your veterinarian will most likely send your dog home with a future preventative depending on the type of parasitic infection.

Preventing Worms in Dogs

You may already be thinking about how you can avoid all of this and prevent any worm infestation from starting. The idea of parasites on or inside your dog makes your own skin crawl.

Talking to your veterinarian can help you work out a regimen that is right for your dog. There are many prescription products available that can prevent fleas and ticks from being on your pet.

These monthly preventatives will also protect your dog from certain types of worm infestations. There are over-the-counter products as well. Over-all flea prevention is key.

For heartworm, your dog’s vet will first run bloodwork to be sure that your dog is free of the parasite before beginning a preventative treatment. These can come in monthly chews that are flavored so that your dog takes them as easily as a treat.

Keeping your dog out of communal grassy runs or with other kenneled dogs can also help prevent the spread of certain parasites. The best preventative may in fact be you and your due diligence in keeping up with your dog’s health, habits, and environment.

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Diana currently lives and works in London, UK and she's been an animal lover and dog owner since she was a child. After graduating high school, she focused on getting her degree in English to become a writer with a focus on animals, pets and dogs.