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Worms are one of the more common medical problems dog owners have to deal with, so it’s important to have a basic understanding of how to treat worms in dogs. Although the signs and symptoms of worms may vary a bit depending on the type of worm, treatment is generally the same. Keep in mind that it’s important to follow any specific instructions your vet provides with your dog’s worm treatment.
If your dog has worms, they may have diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, weight loss, and other related symptoms. These symptoms may vary a bit depending on the type of worms your dog has as well as their breed and size. This is why it’s so important to figure out what kind of worms you’re dealing with before you start treatment.
Whether you’re dealing with dog seizures or worms, going to the vet is a critical part of keeping your dog healthy. Your vet can use tests to diagnose worms and determine what type of worms your dog has. You can also get a prescription and instructions for using a dewormer. If you think your dog may have worms, here’s what you need to know about how to treat worms in dogs and when to go to the vet.
- What Causes Worms in Dogs?
- Diagnosing Worms in Dogs
- What are the Signs of a Dog Having Worms?
- Worms in Dogs: Treatment Options
- How Long Does it Take for Worms in Dogs to Go Away?
- Final Notes
What Causes Worms in Dogs?
Worms are a type of parasite, whether you’re talking about hookworms or tapeworms. Dogs usually get worms as a result of something they ate that was infested with worm eggs or larvae. Your dog could ingest contaminated soil, feces, fleas, or grass, all of which can transmit various types of parasitic worms. Even just touching contaminated stool can give your dog worms. If your dog likes to hunt for rodents and other small animals, they could get worms from these animals.
Grooming can also lead to worms in dogs. If your dog has fleas, they might chew at them to stop the itching, and worm-infested fleas can pass on parasites to your dog. Hookworms can also attach to your dog’s coat, which can cause your dog to ingest them when grooming. Learning how to bathe your dog effectively can help reduce these risks.
In some cases, puppies can get worms from their mother. Roundworm can be transmitted via the placenta, and both roundworm and hookworm can be passed from a mother to her puppy through milk. Worms in puppies are a medical emergency, so it’s important to see a vet right away if your puppy has worms.
Diagnosing Worms in Dogs
While you might spot white worms in dog poop as an early indicator of worms, you can’t necessarily diagnose worms on your own. If you think your dog has worms, you should take them to the vet to figure out what kind of worms you’re dealing with.
In order to diagnose worms in dogs, your vet will use a fecal flotation test. During this test, your vet will combine a stool sample with a liquid that causes the parasite eggs to float to the top of the liquid, which makes them easy to collect with a slide. This slide is then examined through a microscope to determine what kind of worms your dog has.
Prior to the fecal flotation test, your vet may ask you questions about your dog’s medical history, diet, and symptoms so they can get a better idea of your dog’s overall health.
Types of Worms: Hookworms, Whipworms, Roundworms, & Tapeworms
While people use the term “worms” to refer to any parasitic worm in dogs, there are actually several types of worms. The four types of worms that dogs most commonly get are hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, and tapeworms.
Hookworms are an intestinal parasite that can cause anemia and can be fatal to puppies. Hookworms look like a very small, thin string that’s often found in your dog’s feces, but you likely won’t be able to see them. A dog can become infected with hookworms through infected soil or feces or infected milk from their mother. Hookworms in dogs are somewhat common.
Whipworms may not always cause symptoms, but they can spread easily due to their long lifespan in the right environment. Dogs can get whipworms from ingesting anything that’s infected with them, including soil, food, water, feces, and animals. Whipworms look like a long, thin piece of thread with one end that’s larger than the rest, but you likely won’t be able to visualize whipworms in your dog’s stool.
Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasites that dogs get. Many puppies are actually born with very small roundworm larvae in their tissue. This is often because if a mother has roundworms, it can be passed on to her puppies. In some cases, raccoon roundworms can infect dogs as a result of eating eggs or an infected host, but this is rare. Roundworms can sometimes be seen in vomit or stool and resemble spaghetti.
Tapeworms are another common parasite in dogs, and they occur as a result of consuming animals, fleas, or other insects that are infested with tapeworms. Your dog may pass small parts of the tapeworms, which you can see in their stool if you look closely. Tapeworms are flat and segmented and resemble a grain of rice. Flea prevention is an important part of preventing tapeworms and keeping your dog’s skin and coat healthy, so talk to your vet about finding the right flea prevention for your dog.
What are the Signs of a Dog Having Worms?
While there are different types of worms, the signs of worms in dogs are often very similar. However, the signs of worms can be similar to signs of dehydration in dogs, so you may not be dealing with worms if you notice your dog panting heavily. Some worms, however, may cause dehydration. Here are some of the common signs of worms in dogs:
- Diarrhea: Parasites in your dog’s intestines can cause diarrhea, and you may notice white worms in your dog’s poop.
- Abdominal pain: Worms can lead to abdominal pain in many cases, so you may notice adult dogs whining more than usual if they have worms.
- Vomiting: Like diarrhea, vomiting occurs as a result of the effect that parasitic worms have on your dog’s digestive system.
- Weight loss: Your dog may lose weight if they have a worm infestation that causes diarrhea and vomiting.
- Dehydration: Worms can lead to dehydration, and some of the symptoms of worms may be similar to the symptoms of dehydration in dogs.
- Lethargy: If your dog has worms, they may experience lethargy that causes them to lie around all day.
- Bloated stomach: Worms can cause distension of the abdomen, which can make your dog’s stomach appear bloated. This is more common in puppies than adult dogs.
The symptoms will typically not be noticeable at first and will progress over time. So if you think your dog has worms, you should take them to the vet to get a diagnosis and start worm treatment as soon as possible.
Worms in Dogs: Treatment Options
The good news is that there are pretty simple guidelines for how to treat worms in dogs. The first step is always getting a diagnosis so you know what kind of worms your dog has. From there, your vet will recommend a worm treatment based on the type of worms your dog has.
In most cases, your vet will recommend a dewormer to get rid of parasitic worms in dogs. For tapeworms, you’ll need to use a dewormer and take steps to get rid of the fleas around your home. Whipworms and hookworms require multiple deworming treatments, and roundworms are also treated with a dewormer.
Dewormers may be administered orally or injected. It’s important to follow any instructions your vet provides to make sure you get rid of all the parasites your dog has. Most dogs will not have any side effects from a dewormer, but it’s possible for them to experience diarrhea, lethargy, or vomiting, so don’t be alarmed if you notice any of these symptoms after the dewormer. In most cases, these side effects will go away on their own with time.
In addition to treating worms in dogs, it’s also crucial to prevent your dog from getting worms. After giving your dog dewormer, clean up after them as soon as they go to the bathroom so that they don’t reinfect themselves by eating their contaminated feces. You should also use flea and tick prevention, which can control intestinal worms. It's also important to not let your dog hunt wildlife, as wild animals are more likely to have worms and infect your pup.
How Long Does it Take for Worms in Dogs to Go Away?
If you’re wondering how long it takes to get rid of worms with a dewormer, it depends on what kind of worms your dog has. Your vet will provide instructions for treating worms, including how often to administer medication and for how long.
Roundworm typically takes about 4 weeks to treat, while tapeworm may be gone in as little as 10-14 days. Hookworm symptoms may resolve in just a few days, but it typically takes a few weeks to get rid of the parasite completely.
As is the case with antibiotics, it’s important to make sure your dog takes their dewormer for as long as it’s prescribed. If you stop administering a dewormer when your dog’s symptoms start to subside, you may not kill all the eggs and larvae, which can lead to another worm infestation. If you’re not sure how long your dog should take a dewormer, you can always call your vet to make sure.
Understanding how to treat worms in dogs is an important part of being a dog owner. If your dog is showing signs of worms, you should take them to the vet for a diagnosis. A vet can figure out if your dog has worms and what type of worms they have. Plus, they can prescribe a dewormer for worm treatment.
Whether you notice signs of dog anxiety or symptoms of an infection, finding the right vet is important. With Dutch, you can connect with vets in your area who can help you keep your dog healthy. Dutch partners with highly qualified, licensed veterinarians who can answer any questions you have about your dog, all from the comfort of your own home. You can even get treatments, such as dewormers, delivered directly to your door. When you need a veterinarian, Dutch makes it simple.