How to tell when your dog has worms (and what to do next)

Even cute dogs get worms.

Even cute dogs get worms.

First of all if your dog has any of signs of any type of worms, stop reading this and go to the vet!

I’m not a vet, I don’t claim to have any type of official medical advice on this blog, the following is just my experience, not a medical opinion. Use your best judgement.

At 10 weeks old we took our newest dog Tesla to the vet and found out she had a very bad case of worms, round worm to be specific. There were no signs of this other than her bowl movements were rarely firm, she seemed very mellow for a puppy, she ate a lot of food and was constantly hungry and her brothers and sisters were growing notably faster than she was. Being a research freak here’s what I learned through professor Google (most of this content came from About.com, just for the record. Thanks for all the great info).

Signs

  • It’s coming out their back-end: Do you see eggs or worms? This should be a no-brainer in identifying whether or not your dog was worms. I’ve also seem people on forums asking about their dogs throwing up worms… this also should be a no-brainer! Go to the vet. 
  • Visible worms in fur, or area around dog’s rear – Tapeworms, in particular, may appear as small moving segments, which later dry out to resemble grains of rice.
  • Scratching or rubbing of rear on the ground or against furniture – if your dog shows signs of itchiness around the rear, it may be irritated by worms in the area. However, this could also be due to problems with glands unrelated to worms.
  • Bloated stomach or belly – This is another common symptom of worms, often seen in puppies who receive worms from their mother.
  • Weakness, increased appetite, constant hunger, weight loss – If your dog has worms, the worms are stealing your dog’s nutrition. Your dog may be weak or constantly hungry, and in severe cases, may be losing weight.
  • Diarrhea, particularly with blood in it.

Why?

  • Newly born puppies – roundworm eggs can form cysts in adult dogs that remain dormant. These eggs CANNOT be removed by medication. When a female dog is pregnant, these dormant eggs will activate and infect the puppies.The mother’s milk can also pass roundworms to puppies.
  • Contact with infected dirt – roundworm eggs and hookworm larvae can reside in dirt. If you dog comes in contact with infected dirt, your dog may have worms.
  • Fleas – young tapeworms can reside in fleas. If your dog swallows fleas while grooming, your dog will ingest tapeworms and be infected.
  • Hunting or eating wildlife – wild animals may carry worms, including tapeworms residing in fleas on wild animals. If your dog hunts or eats wildlife, your dog may swallow worms.

Worm Varieties

  • Roundworms – roundworms can grow up to half a foot in length and live in the intestines. They should be visible as small noodle-like bits in fecal matter and cause swollen bellies. Roundworms are a big problem with puppies.
  • Hookworms – hookworms are thin, small worms that “bite” or “hook” into the intestinal wall. They are not always visible by eye, which means a microscope examination is needed to observe eggs in fecal matter. Hookworms can cause bleeding because of their biting, which results in bloody stools or anemia.
  • Tapeworms – tapeworms are flat, long worms that live in the intestines. Segments of the tapeworm breaking off are visible to the naked eye as rice-like grains after drying out.
  • Heartworms – heartworms are one of the most dangerous worms because they cannot be easily detected. Heartworms can be spread by mosquitoes. Heartworms damage the heart muscle and require a blood test to detect. Heart damage can be fatal, and you will only see other symptoms such as weakness or dull fur after heart damage has already occurred. It is absolutely necessary to keep your dog on a heartworm preventive medicine.
  • Whipworms – whipworms are thin, thread like worms living in the large intestine. Adults may be visible by the naked eye, but fecal matter does not contain many worms, so they may be difficult to detect. A microscope examination of several fecal samples may be necessary to detect them. Whipworms are one of the most difficult worms to eliminate, but they are treatable.

How to treat worms

If you think your dog has worms, safe and effective treatments are readily available.

For the most common types of worms, including heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms, there are all-in-one medications for your dog in flavored chewable tablets. For example, Iverhart Max
tablets are useful for treating all four of these conditions and includes three active ingredients: ivermectin to prevent heartworm, pyrantel pamoate to treat roundworms and hookworms, and praziquantel to treat tapeworms.

Since this kind of medication covers all the major worm types, it is a very convenient multi-purpose medication for the average dog owner. You need to determine the correct dosage based on your dog’s weight, but most of these medications require one tablet a month.

How to select a dewormer

If you know what kind of worm your dog has, you can find the correct medication available from discount online stores. Just make sure to check the ingredient and usage label to determine activity against a specific kind of worm. Common ingredients are listed below. Many convenient formulations which mix multiple ingredients are also available. In some cases, a prescription may be necessary.
  • Ivermectin – prevention of heartworm
  • Pyrantel pamoate – treatment of hookworms and roundworms
  • Selamectin – treatment or prevention of heartworms, prevention of hookworms and roundworms
  • Milbemycin oxime – prevention of heartworms, treatment of hookworms, roundworms, and some whipworms
  • Paziquantel – treatment of tapeworms

Prevention

Because worms are effectively treated with medication, it is important to keep you dog on a worm prevention treatment. Heartworm, in particular, can be fatal, and is preventable with monthly tablets. The same tablets can also help prevent other worms. For example, Iverhart makes a preventive tablet labeled Iverhart Plus, which contains only ivermectin for prevention of heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.

Preventive measures are the best way to deal with worms BEFORE your dog has health problems. By taking this simple measure, you can help keep your dog happy and healthy.

10 thoughts on “How to tell when your dog has worms (and what to do next)

  1. Pingback: Tesla, Week 10 and 11: Trouble with the Wiggles | House of Sand and Dog

  2. Pingback: My dog is acting out lately :(

  3. I am very pleased to have found and read your comments and information! This has helped me alot. I thank you very much. Keep up the good work. AmyAnna

  4. Hi we have 2 miniature poodles one is my and the other one is my friends I’ve learned that my pup has roundworms in the first week I got her. So I’ve being treating her for it with medication I get from a vet! But this morning I’ve learned that her sister has worms as well but their 6 weeks now if not a week older! So I would like to know where her sister got the worms from because she is only now showing the symptoms of roundworms! I have being picking up my pups poop as soon as she did her thing

    • Definitely a question for the vet, most likely your dog was exposed to the worms before the 1st dog was treated… it just took a while for the signs to show up in her fecal matter. Good Luck!

  5. My 5 year old dog has worms. He just had his vet check in beginning of June. He has also been on Revolution for 2 months? So isn’t that a preventative treatment for all these pests? How did he manage to get worms?

    • Hi Deanna, The vet has preventative treatments for Worms. Revolution is most likely just for heart worms (our dogs don’t use that product so I don’t know exactly). I’d ask your vet.

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