Parasitic worms are a common health problem in dogs. They can cause serious disease especially in young puppies and debilitated animals. To better protect your dog, you should educate yourself about these potentially dangerous parasites.
Types of Worms in Dogs
The five most common types of worms found in dogs are roundworms, tapeworms, heartworms, whipworms and hookworms. Roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms are intestinal parasites while adult heartworms in dogs live in the heart and nearby vessels.
How Do Dogs Get Worms?
- Eating Feces or Contaminated Soil
The most common way for canines to acquire worms is eating soil or other material contaminated with infected feces. Worms transmitted through eggs in soil include roundworms, hookworms and whipworms.
- Nursing From an Infected Mother
Some parasites can infect puppies when they nurse. Roundworms and hookworms can infect canines this way.
- From Their Mothers Before Birth
Canine roundworms have the ability to cross the uterine wall and infect puppies in the womb. In fact, most puppies are born infected with these worms. Certain species of hookworm can also infect puppies in the womb.
The type of tapeworm that most commonly infects dogs lays eggs in the environment where the eggs are eaten by fleas. When a dog eats a flea with a tapeworm egg in its gut, the dog becomes infected with tapeworms.
Dogs become infected with heartworms after being bitten by infected mosquitoes. It is possible to prevent life-threatening heartworm infections in dogs by regularly using a preventative medication such as ivermectin, selamectin or milbemycin oxime.
- Eating Animal Carcasses
A number of parasites have the ability to encyst in animal tissue. When a dog eats a bird, squirrel, rabbit, mouse or other small animal infected with parasites, the dog can contract these parasites. Dogs can acquire roundworms and tapeworms by consuming infected prey.
- Walking in a Contaminated Area
Hookworm larvae have the ability to burrow through a dog’s skin and infect the animal. This means that a dog doesn’t even have to lick or eat contaminated soil to acquire hookworms.
Symptoms of Worms in Dogs
Common symptoms of roundworms include the following:
- Pot-bellied appearance
- Poor coat
- Delayed growth in puppies
Symptoms of hookworm infection in dogs can include the following:
- Pale gums
- Poor growth in puppies
- Tarry or bloody stools
The most common signs of whipworm infection include the following:
- Blood in the stool
- Mucus in the stool
- Weight loss
Dogs often show no symptoms when infected with tapeworms. When symptoms do occur, they include itching in the anal area and the presence of white segments resembling rice grains in the feces or stuck to the fur.
Symptoms of heartworm disease range in severity and include the following:
- Persistent cough
- Exercise intolerance
- Coughing up blood
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Sudden death
Now you know how dogs get worms, the symptoms of worms in dogs and the most common types of worms found in canines, check out worms in cats.