Worms in your dog’s poop is a sure sign of parasite infestation. However, you won't always know of worm infestation from a dog's feces alone. Worms in dog poop is just one of the many signs, and there are many other symptoms that you should be aware of.
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It's only occasionally that part of the worm will break off within the intestine and make its way through the rectum and into the dog’s poop. Most commonly, a dog’s feces will contain the eggs of the parasite, which are far too small to be seen with the naked eye.
Routine veterinary examinations of a dog's fecal matter is recommended to spot infestations before more severe symptoms manifest themselves. In the case of obvious visible symptoms of worm infestation in dogs (e.g. many worms in dog poop), it means the condition has already progressed to an advanced state, potentially causing extensive damage.
If your dog has contracted worms, it’s likely that he has either come into contact with another afflicted animal, sniffed around in soil where an infected dog has relieved himself or they've been bitten by a flea or mosquito that is carrying the parasite. You'll need to seek veterinary treatment as soon as you spot worms in your dog's poop.
Who's Most at Risk for Contracting Worms?
All dogs of any breed, age or gender are in danger of developing a parasite infestations. Symptoms, however, will vary slightly. For example, puppies and senior dogs often suffer from a worse reaction to worms because their immune system is weaker and unable to fight off these intruders effectively. Studies have shown that seasons can affect this, too.
There are no vaccines for worms in dogs, but there's deworming medicine and special worm prevention routine that all dog owners must follow as part of essential healthcare. Most dewormer medications are designed to be mild on a healthy dog's system, yet strong enough to kill off any worms. Dog dewormers can be used both as prevention and treatment.
If you have multiple pets within the home, it’s important to quarantine the afflicted animal at the first sign of disease and thoroughly clean any areas where the dog has relieved himself. You can quickly disinfect these areas by clearing and spraying with a household disinfectant, or better yet, a parasite-specific treatment and disinfectant.
Because clinical signs are parasite-specific, depending on the type of worm that your dog is affected by, his symptoms will vary. Let’s take a look at five of the most common types of worms in dogs: their symptoms and contagiousness of each, as well as veterinary treatments, prevention and home remedies if you found worms in a dog's poop.
4 Types of Common Worms in Dog Poop
The most common parasite to infect dogs, the roundworm is almost a guaranteed illness that all dogs will suffer from sometime in their lives.
Puppies can become infested with roundworms from their mother while feeding, and as the roundworm doesn’t always cause your dog to show any symptoms, it’s not always possible to tell which dogs are infected with the parasite. This makes diagnosing roundworms in dogs difficult without testing in a veterinary clinic.
In the majority of cases, roundworm infestations will not cause your dog to show outward signs of illness and the dog is likely to feel fine. However, the condition remains dangerous and, therefore, the dog should be tested on an intermittent basis.
Puppies, older dogs, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to have clinical signs, and sometimes even show severe symptoms such as:
- weight loss
- dull coat
- distended abdomen
Roundworm is highly contagious to other pets in the same household, and on very rare occasions, they can even be passed from dogs to humans. The best way to avoid this is stick with deworming routine, and always keep your home, garden and car clean. After worm infestation has been detected, extra thorough cleaning will be required.
Most dewormers for dogs are available over the counter, to buy online or at your local veterinarian or pet store. This should be your first step after consulting with your vet. The most effective at-home treatment you can use is to relieve the discomfort of the symptoms of roundworms in dogs, such as those below.
Is your dog not acting like his usual chipper self, and instead prefers to lay on his bed and feel sorry for himself? One way that you can help him to feel better is to place him in a quiet area of the house, preferably away from the hustle and bustle of kids and other pets. Make sure that he’s drinking enough fluids; if he isn't, you can encourage a drink by adding a few frozen berries to his water bowl, ice cubes, or making bone broth.
In cases of roundworm leading to a your dog coughing, this is due to the larvae making their way into your dog’s lungs. Veterinary intervention and medical treatment is a must in such cases, but to relieve a dog's cough at home, you may feed honey, either direct from the spoon or stir one tablespoon of honey into your dog’s water.
The more recommended course of action for worms in dogs is using a dewormer, which can be taken orally (for both prevention and treatment). However, in cases of severe worm infestation, a veterinarian may suggest using a stronger wormer for dogs to resolve the situation quicker, and the one that needs to be given subcutaneously.
It’s important to speak with your veterinarian if your dog is currently showing symptoms of parasite infection and infestation before any de-worming at home is done. The dog will not be able to take both types of dewormer (OTC and prescribed ones) due to adverse reactions, and the subcutaneous option may be better in some cases.
The whipworm is a devilish tricky little blighter, most often picked up via contaminated soil where its eggs can survive for months or even years. A dog can contract whipworms through ingestion of contaminated feces or soil. It can also be passed on to your dog by an infected animal, but this isn’t as common. While whipworms can affect both humans and canines, unlike roundworms, you cannot contract whipworms from your dog.
As one of the most pathological parasites, whipworm in dogs symptoms are often vast and severe, with common ailments including:
- watery or bloody diarrhea
- weight loss
There should be no messing around when your dog comes into contact with contaminated soil or another infected animal. Seek immediate veterinary advice. Your vet will conduct a number of relevant whipworm related tests and prescribe strong enough medicine for treatment.
Delaying whipworm treatment can result in severe health problems for the dog, including chronic colitis and anemia, both of which can be deadly. If you notice worms in dog poop, this means your pet has already been infested with the parasite for days, so immediate veterinary consultation is a must.
Once traditional medical treatment has been undertaken, you will have to move to deworming routine for prevention of future instances. You can also explore holistic solutions (in addition to, not instead of dewormers) to help clean up damage caused by parasite infestation, and boost your dog’s blood count which was likely massively depleted during the infection.
Raising iron levels is one of the best ways to help a dog feel well again. You can do this by feeding iron-rich dog-friendly foods including lean meat, cooked liver, non-toxic nuts, and vegetables. Fortifying the diet of a canine suffering from anemia with B Vitamins is also recommended, whether through supplements or foods like egg yolks, carrots, pumpkin.
The most common medical treatment for whipworm in dogs is albendazole and mebendazole. These two medications are taken orally by the dog for one to three days depending on the severity of infestation. Once the full-course of treatment has been completed, the vet will re-test a dog’s stool to confirm that whipworms and eggs are no longer present.
The hookworm is especially dangerous to dogs because the areas that it bites within the dog’s intestine will continue seeping blood to the invasive nature of these bloodsuckers. Hookworms can be especially fatal when picked up by puppies. The most common cause of young dogs developing hookworm is from the milk of their mothers.
A dog that's been infested with hookworms will quickly begin to look unwell. You'll notice lethargic behavior, they'll have a dull coat, cloudy eyes, and there will be noticeable weight loss. Other physical symptoms include darkened stool, diarrhea or constipation.
Due to severe blood loss, this condition can quickly turn fatal if not treated. Before you see a worm in your dog's poop, you should check the dog’s gums and ears for a paler than normal appearance to determine whether your dog is suffering from something.
Managing hookworm symptoms is your only option, with the worst symptom being anemia. Speak with your vet about the best ways to help boost your dog’s blood count. Standard methods of treating anemia in dogs at home are through diet management, dog supplements and high-doses of Vitamin C.
Veterinary treatment is almost always required for treatment of hookworms in dogs. Dewormers are a must and other treatments that may be necessary include:
- subcutaneous fluid therapy
- blood transfusion
- oxygen therapy
These treatments are ordinarily performed only in more extreme cases, and the prognosis with treatment is guarded with some dogs just being too far along for effective treatment.
This is perhaps the easiest parasite for humans to contract, and they are very contagious. Hookworms can be transmitted by walking on contaminated soil barefoot. For dogs, they often pick it up from their mothers or from the stool of an infected dog, cat or fox.
Perhaps one of the most well-known types of worm in dogs and humans is the tapeworm. It can grow to between four and eight inches long. As you can see in the photo above, tapeworms are made up of sections, each the length of a grain of rice.
Some of tapeworm's sections will detach and be passed through the feces out of the dog's rectum, which is when many owners notice white moving specs that are actually worms in dog poop. The departure of these sections of tapeworm can cause discomfort to your dog and cause him to “scoot” his rear end across the floor or bite at his rectum to relieve the itching.
A dog scooting is generally the giveaway sign of a tapeworm infection. If you notice your pet doing this, you should take him to the vet immediately and recount the symptoms.
There are few physical symptoms for a tapeworm infestation in dogs, with the most common being the behavior of scooting butt across the floor. Other symptoms can include your dog vomiting and weight loss.
The three most common oral veterinary medications for tapeworms in dogs are praziquantel, nitazoxanide, and the already mentioned albendazole. Other treatments may be needed sometimes, including anti-inflammatory medication and even surgery in cases where cysts have formed.
While veterinary treatments are essential, one natural remedy that you can include in addition to that and that might work to eliminate worms is feeding ground pumpkin seeds orally. You can feed around ¼ teaspoon of ground seeds per 10 lbs of bodyweight.
Tapeworms are extremely contagious. They're most commonly picked up by a dog’s exposure to a carrier flea. Humans can contract the ailment in the same way and not through contact with the infected animal itself. However, if a flea from your dog is passed to you then it is possible to become infected.
Best Dewormers for Dogs (for Treatment and Prevention)
Whether you've spotted worms in dog poop just now, or you suspect your dog to have worms, or you want to prevent them in the future, deworming medication will be essential. Fortunately, it's available over-the-counter and is highly effective. Some of the best dog dewormers that can be easily given to your pet are these below.
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In most cases of a dog worm infestation, you won't see any worms in dog poop when investigating it or just picking up dog poop. That doesn’t mean that your pet's in the free and clear. It’s vital to stick to a dog deworming schedule, and most veterinarians recommend de-worming of your adult pet every three months.
Make sure your dog gets routine stool tests, preferably every six months. Parasite infestations are incredibly common but with careful management, they won't be a problem for your dog. Remember that if you see worms in dog poop, you must seek treatment immediately or more serious health complications could arise.