Dog worms, otherwise known as internal parasites, come in five different types and can disrupt your dog’s life. The five types are tapeworm, hookworm, heartworm, whipworm and roundworm.
Early detection is vital, and be aware that dog worms were not created equally. Each may require a different form of treatment to eradicate its presence. Hookworms and roundworms are zoonotic. That means that they can be transmitted to people too. While some worms give off hardly any symptoms, others display harsh symptoms. Some of those symptoms are weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea. It is always a good idea to have your vet do a stool test for your dog every year, since some worms cannot be seem by the naked eye and others can.
Here is a list of the most common symptoms of an infestation of dog worms. Unfortunately, and please keep in mind, that these symptoms could also represent other more serious problems. You should always consult your veterinarian when your pooch isn’t looking like it’s old chipper self.
- dull coat;
- appetite loss;
- weight loss;
- low energy level;
- pot-bellied appearance;
Roundworms a/k/a Toxascaris leonina, Toxocara canis: There are two types of roundworms to be concerned about. Toxocara canis is the most common type found in dogs and is the most common type of either. The other type is the Toxascaris leonina. Roundworms negatively affect a dog’s intestines and gives them a pot-bellied look, particularly in puppies.
Roundworms, if present, will be found in your dog’s vomit or stool. They will grow to about 7 inches and they actually have an appearance that makes them look like spaghetti. If this infestation gets out of hand it can cause a severe buildup and blockage that could actually result in the death of the animal. Severe infestation symptoms are: dull coat, vomiting, weight loss, pot belly and diarrhea.
Dogs ingest roundworm eggs from contaminated soil on food or other things they pick up. The eggs hatch in the intestine and the larva are transported to the lungs by the bloodstream. Then the larva crawl up the windpipe and get swallowed. Once returned to intestine, the larvae grow into adults.
Hookworms a/k/a Ancylostoma caninium: These worms are found in the intestines just like the roundworm are also capable of being transmitted to people. They can affect dogs of all ages. A thin, small worm that hooks on the wall of the intestines, it sucks it’s victim’s blood through the attachment.
Dogs become infected with hookworms when they come in contact with the larvae in contaminated soil. Like roundworms, the hookworm larvae matures to adult stage in the intestine. Pups contract hookworms in the uterus of an infected bitch and she can infest her pups through her milk.
Tapeworms a/k/a Dipylidium caninum: This worm has a long, flat tape-like appearance, hence, giving it its name. And like the previous two mentioned, it also affects the intestines. If you look you can find broken pieces of this worm in your dog’s fecal matter. These pieces contain tapeworm eggs. You’ll need to get a prescription dewormer for this worm, since regular over-the-counter meds are not effective in eliminating this threat.
Your pet, dog or cat gets tapeworms from fleas. Flea larva, while grazing through dirt, eat tapeworm eggs. The tapeworm matures in the flea larva and continues right through all the flea life stages. The adult flea takes up residence on an animal and goes about its business, namely sucking its host’s blood. When the host grooms, the flea is licked up and swallowed. The flea’s body is digested, but the young tapeworm is released. It finds a nice spot for attachment and the life cycle starts all over. From when the the flea is swallowed to the time tapeworm segments appear on the pet’s rear end or stool takes about three weeks.
Whipworms a/k/a Trichuris vulpis: Whipworms are thin, whip-shaped dog worms and this type lives in a dog’s colon. You will obviously not be able to see these with the naked eye. They also need to be treated with prescription medication. No effective over-the-counter remedy is available.
Whipworm eggs and larvae can be found in a variety of places, including dead animals, dirt, soil, and feces. They are also passed by close contact with other whipworm infected animals.
Heartworms a/k/a Dirofilaria immitis: This worm can be fatal, but it is also very preventable. Just don’t leave it untreated and all will be fine. They are mostly spread by mosquitoes, and the worm itself destroys the heart’s muscle and tissue.
The mosquito inadvertently sucks up microfilaria from an infected host. The microfilaria develop through two more stages and then migrate into the mosquito’s salivary glands. The mosquito then bites your animal and these near heartworm things burrow into the victim (your dog) through the mosquito’s small bite wound. Development continues for six or seven months before they become sexually active and can finally be detected with a heartworm test. They will have already found the heart by then.
Any of the worms noted above are a hazard to your dog’s health. Your veterinarian will be your best partner in maintaining your pooch’s health in reference to worms. Make it a practice to take a stool to your vet when you take your dog in for its annual shots. Doing this as well as watching for the symptoms noted above will keep your furry friend free of dog worms.