DOG WORMS – THE 5 TYPES THAT AFFECT PUPPIES AND OLDER DOGS
The sheer mention of dog worms to first time owners can be frightening. Worms in dogs and puppies is a situation all owners will come across eventually, and it can be quite daunting if you’re unsure of the process.
Firstly, the types of worms in dogs is all important, and establishing what you are up against is the correct starting point.
We have brought you this extensive guide to worming dogs to get you started on the right track and get your puppy worm free.
Lets take a look:
The First Step in Tackling Dog Worms is Establishing The Type.
Dogs are susceptible to various internal parasites known collectively as worms in fact worms are one of the most common health issues in dogs, but exactly what are these little freeloaders and what problems do different dog worms cause for our beloved pets?
- My dog has worms what do I do?
- My dog has worms in his poop?
- What causes dogs to get worms?
- What symptoms should I look for?
- How often should I worm my dog?
These are just some of the questions dog parents need the answers too. Our pups depend on us to look after their health so it is vitally important we understand how and when to help them.
There Are 5 Main Types Of Worms, 4 Of These Affect The Intestinal Tract
Tapeworms are a common problem in dogs they are flat white worms made up of tiny segments. They can grow from 4 to 28 inches in length although it is very rare to see the adult. Each segment has its own reproductive organs either male or female and new segments are constantly being reproduced in the neck area of the worm.
As it grows the ones at the end fall off and can be seen in the dog's stools like grains of rice. They may also be noticed around the tail and anus as small yellow specks which can cause your dog to scrape its butt along the ground or cause excessive licking of the area.
Once inside the animal, the tapeworm burrows into the small intestine where it feeds on nutrients and blood. Over a period of time, the adult produces small egg packets which are passed through the body when the dog poops.
You may notice them in your dog's stools. The only time you would notice an adult worm is if it makes its way into the dog's stomach where it may cause the dog to vomit.
There are several kinds of tapeworm the most common being Dipylidium Caninum this tapeworm uses fleas as the intermediate host whereas Taenia and Echinococcus which are less common are contracted by contact with either rodents such as rats, squirrels, mice and birds or larger livestock like Deer, Sheep, and Horses.
The most common form of transmission, however, is via flea infestation.
All dogs will likely have a worm problem at some point in their life but are there any breeds that are more prone to contracting worms? The simple answer is yes. However, it is the work they do or their environment that makes them more likely to pick up the larvae rather than breed-type.
Working or Hunting dogs are more likely to pick up worms as they come into contact with other animals and birds more frequently and may eat rodents or raw meat which can be infested with the parasites.
How do I know if my dog has tapeworms?
Many dogs do not show any outward signs of having tapeworms which can go unnoticed for a long period of time without causing any serious problems, therefore, it can be a shock for the owner to see the wriggling egg packets in their dog's faeces, however, if you notice any of these it can be a sign your dog is suffering from tapeworms.
- Itchiness around the butt area
- Excessive Licking
- Scraping bottom along the ground
- Increased appetite without gaining weight
- Pot-bellied appearance
- Weight-loss while eating the same amount of food
- Poor skin condition
The most common visual evidence is the presence of the rice-like segments around the rear end of your pooch if you notice these it is vital you treat your dog immediately.
Although a vet can administer an injection to worm your dog or prescribe tablets.
There are many perfectly safe de-worming products and worm treatments for dogs including worming tablets, pastes, granules and liquids that you can purchase over-the-counter for the treatment of tapeworms these contain epsiprantel, fenbendazole or praziquantel which dissolve the worms.
Make sure you check the label to ensure that it is effective against tapeworms and as these parasites sometimes require a different dosage to others read the label carefully to ensure correct administration.
Most medications kill the adult tapeworm within 24 hours but a second dose is required 3-4 weeks later to treat any that were larvae at the time of treatment. Because the main cause of tapeworms in dogs is fleas it is also essential that you get rid of any infestation otherwise, the dog will become re-infected almost immediately.
Most dogs suffer no ill effects from de-worming treatment, however, in isolated cases, some have experienced sickness, poor appetite, diarrhea, and lethargy. If these persist, contact your vet for advice.
Although rarely serious, tapeworms are uncomfortable for your best-friend and some ways to prevent infestation include-:
- Good Hygiene
- Regular treatment for fleas both for the dog and his environment
- Preventing your dog from coming into contact with the intermediate hosts -Rodents etc.
- Not allowing your dog to eat carrion or prey - Birds, Rabbits
- It is possible for humans to catch tapeworms
Although tapeworms are not usually a serious issue for adult dogs they have the potential to cause significant health issues in puppies such as anemia and slow growth.
All bitches should be treated for both fleas and dog worms to ensure good health during pregnancy. If you suspect your pregnant or nursing dam has tapeworms check with your vet for information regarding what medications are safe for both her and the puppies.
The most common type of worm found in dogs with most being infected at some point in their lives There are 2 main species Toxocara Canis and Toxoscaris Leonine the former causing the most serious problems and also capable of being transmitted to humans.
These dog worms can grow quite long up to 7 inches in length they are pale-coloured and have the appearance of spaghetti. They reside in the small intestine of the host both types are similar in that they can produce millions of eggs which are passed in faeces.
They do however have different life cycles which are important when we look at dog de-worming treatments for these parasites.
Toxoscaris Leonine has the simplest life cycle of the 2 after the infective eggs have been ingested by the dog they hatch, with the small intestine providing the environment for the larvae to mature. The adult then lays huge amounts of eggs which are passed back into the environment in the dogs' stools where they become infective at around 3-6 days.
Toxocara Canis has a much more complicated cycle and has developed a way of ensuring they are transferred from generation to generation which is the reason most puppies are born with worms.
As with Toxascaris Leonine the eggs are usually ingested via the faeces of infected animals which can include birds and rodents.
The larvae enter the small intestine they then migrate to the circulatory system where they can enter other organs and tissues within the body or the respiratory tract. They lay dormant in the body for months or years which is why a seemingly worm free adult can still pass roundworms to their offspring.
The dormant larvae can also infect the nursing mother's mammary tissues and be transmitted to the newborn through her milk where once again they are swallowed and take up residence in the puppy's small intestine.
If the pup passes the larvae in their motions these dog worms can then re-infect the mother as she cleans her babies. A month later the larvae have matured to adult roundworms and the cycle begins again.
Many dogs will not show outward signs of a roundworm infestation but dogs with a major problem and puppies will show these signs
- Weight Loss
- Poor Coat Condition
- Distended Belly
- Coughing (If worms have entered the lung)
Roundworms are a real threat to pups as they rob the growing dog of vital nutrients so it is essential you de-worm the mother monthly and know how to de-worm the puppies too as soon as possible the Kennel Club recommends at 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks and then monthly thereafter.
Your vet will probably prescribe medication for worms when he gives puppies an initial health check but there are many, inexpensive, over the counter de-worming solutions for dogs that are perfectly safe to use.
They are often flavoured making them more palatable for your pooch. It is important to always read the label as worming medication dosage depends on the size and weight and is only effective if given in the correct dosage.
Although these medications work quickly killing the adult worms, regular treatment is required as re-infestation is likely.Humans can catch roundworms from dogs and they pose a significant threat especially for children who are more likely to come into contact with contaminated soil where the dog has been to the toilet or actual dog faeces.
It is also possible to ingest the eggs from your dog's tongue after he has licked his backside. therefore, prevention and routine de-worming treatment is essential.
There is a small chance your dog may suffer from loose stools or experience some nausea and lethargy but this is rare. If the side effects carry on for more than 24 hours seek advice from your vet.
- Good Hygiene is vital in the prevention of roundworms and re-infestation
- Pick up and dispose of poop immediately
- Do not let children play in places where your dog defecates
- Routinely worm your dog on a monthly basis
- Keep your dog away from rodents and birds
- Regularly disinfect runs or outdoor kennels
Hookworms (Ancylostoma Uncinaria)
Although not as common in the UK as abroad Hookworms can cause serious health issues in your dog and with more dogs coming into the country from abroad than ever before and more of us taking our pets on holiday to the continent cases are on the increase.
Hookworms thrive in moist warm environments; they get their name from the teeth like suckers they use to attach themselves to the intestinal wall where they feed on the blood of the animal.
A large infestation of these parasites left untreated can be fatal especially for puppies. Dogs can become infected either by ingesting infective eggs in the same way as roundworms through the environment or the tiny larvae can burrow into the skin.
These dog worms also have the ability to lie dormant and once again can be passed to newborn puppies via their seemingly worm-free mother.
Although these are some of the smallest worms unable to be seen by the naked eye, you will not notice worms in your dog's stool, they can do a lot of damage.
They inject an anti-coagulant into the intestine wall which causes internal bleeding and can lead to stomach pain and anemia which can be fatal.
- Pale colouring in Nostrils, Ears, and Mouth (Due to anemia)
- Loss of appetite
- Coughing (If larvae are present in the lungs)
- Mucous covered stools
- Bloody Diarrhea
- Stomach Pain
Most dog worming medications that treat roundworms will kill hookworms too but check the label to be sure.
As with other dog de-worming treatments the initial dose only kills the adult worms so has to be repeated at regular intervals to ensure all the larvae have been eliminated.
In severe cases, your vet may recommend placing your pup on a high-protein diet or prescribe iron supplements.
A blood transfusion might be necessary, in very rare situations.
To prevent newborn puppies from an infected mother contracting hookworms it is best practice to consult with your veterinarian so he can prescribe a special de-worming program.
Hookworms can pose serious problems to humans they are contracted through the skin usually on the feet when walking in bare feet where a dog may have been to the toilet, wet sand or contaminated water, causing lesions in the skin which are extremely itchy.
There have been rare cases of these evil little creatures burrowing deeper and causing problems with the lungs or intestines.
Side effects of de-worming your dog for hookworms are not common but your pooch may experience some vomiting and/or diarrhea. If you think your pet is having an adverse reaction to any medication consult your vet.
To prevent hookworms, we must be aware of the 3 ways they are contracted
- Routine de-worming (Most roundworm medications will be effective for hookworm)
- Remove faeces daily
- Control of Rodents as they can be intermediate hosts
- Be especially vigilant if your dog walks on a beach or riverside
- Ensure a pregnant bitch is parasite-free
Whipworms (Trichuris Vulpis)
Whipworms are another common intestinal parasite that can affect dogs and are one of the most pathogenic.
The eggs can live in the environment for years and can be contracted either by the ingestion through food, water or soil and also from infected faeces or other contaminated animals.
They make their home in the Cecum which is the place where the large intestine meets the small.
Whipworms can affect dogs of any age and while small infestations can remain un-noticed left untreated it can result in inflammation of the bowel, bloody diarrhea and anemia in extreme cases resulting in death.
- Chronic Diarrhea
- Watery Bloody Stools
- Weight Loss
Whipworms can be difficult to diagnose because it takes an adult up to 12 weeks after hatching to start producing eggs.
These eggs are passed on an irregular basis so are not always present in any stool sample examined by your vet which can produce falsely negative results.
Most vets will treat a dog suffering from severe diarrhea with treatment for whipworms and some of the multi-wormers will also eradicate these dangerous parasites
Minimal as long as the proper dosage is given. After taking dog worming tablets some dogs may experience nausea but not for long if it persists contact your vet for advice, also the treatment might not have worked effectively.
Oral Treatments for Deworming Dogs
From 7 weeks
From 4 weeks
ivermectin / pyrantel pamoate / praziquantel
From 6 weeks
Roundworms. Hookworms. Whipworms
From 6 weeks
febantel / praziquantel / pyrantel pamoate
From 3 weeks/2lbs
milbemycin oxime / lufenuron
imidacloprid / moxidectin
Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms
From 7 weeks/3lbs
pyrantel / praziquantel
From 8 weeks/3lb
Compounded Products Only
From 8 weeks
Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms
From 4 weeks/2lbs
Hartz Advanced Care Liquid
From 2-3 weeks/3lb
Lungworm (Also known as French Heartworm)
Although not as common as the intestinal parasites cases of Lungworm are increasing throughout the UK once only found in the south of England and Wales it is now becoming prevalent further north and even in Scotland.
There are two strains of lungworm that affect dogs in the UK.
The parasites are contracted when a dog eats a snail or slug which has picked up the larvae from infected dog poop, either intentionally or unintentionally, any contact with the slime trail either from bowls or toys kept outside can also cause infection. 3 days later the larvae migrate from the abdomen to the blood vessels supplying the dog's lungs. The mature adults reside in the blood vessels of the lungs and produce eggs which hatch into larvae that are coughed up, swallowed and re-enter the bowel, creating a new cycle.
Crenosoma vulpis – the “fox lungworm”
The life cycle of the Crenosoma is similar The larvae exist in an infected dog's faeces until picked up by a slug or snail because foxes can also pick up this parasite their poo can also be infected producing, even more, larvae into the environment especially as they roam in more urban areas.
Can humans get worms from dogs?
Lungworm is extremely serious and causes signs of cardiac and respiratory disease as well as hemorrhaging in the internal organs. Signs of the disease can often be confused with other illnesses as they are many but if your dog is exhibiting any of these behaviours seek medical advice immediately.
- Coughing (Bringing up blood)
- Weight Loss
- Difficulty Breathing
- Stomach and/or Back Pain
- Excessive bleeding
Early treatment can result in a full recovery. However, it is important to consult your local vet as not all of the over the counter worming tablets are effective against lungworm and a combination of drugs may be needed depending on the damage sustained.
When not diagnosed early enough this parasite can cause significant permanent damage to your pet so if you have a dog who eats slugs and snails or you have lots of them in your garden in this case prevention is better than cure.
Prednisone one of the drugs given in the treatment of tissue inflammation for lungworm can cause increased urination and appetite but apart from some mild nausea the side effects are minimal
- Talk to your vet if your pet is high risk he can provide preventative treatments
- Be vigilant if you spot lots of slugs and snails in your garden or walking your dog
- Do not leave toys, bowls, bones outside overnight
For more information and to see if you live in a high-risk area, visit www.lungworm.co.uk
Heartworm (Dirofilaria Immitis)
Heartworm is not currently a problem in the UK as it is transmitted by Mosquito bites and needs the insect to complete its life cycle.
It is possible that a dog imported from a country where the parasite is common might test positive but as the disease is not spread from dog to dog and requires mosquitoes it has not become an issue in this country.
Once a dog has been bitten by an infected mosquito it takes around 6-7 months for the larvae to mature.
An adult can live 5-7 years and be up to 12 inches in length and it is possible for there to be over 200 of them in your dog's system. It takes years for the dog to show outward symptoms by which time the infestation is advanced and has started to clog the blood vessels leading to the major organs which can have serious consequences and can be fatal.
Fortunately, the condition can be picked during routine blood tests. If you have imported a dog into the UK or have recently taken your four-legged friend abroad on holiday and it is displaying any of these symptoms consult your vet immediately.
- Enlarged Stomach
- Difficulty Breathing
- Lack of Condition
- Loss of Appetite
Treatment is provided by a series of arsenic-based injections that kill the adult heartworms. However, it can be expensive as the seriousness of the damage has to be evaluated which can involve X-rays, blood and tissue samples and various tests.
After treatment, it is essential to keep your dog quiet, with little exercise for as long as 6 months. as the worms die they break up and can cause the pulmonary vessels to become blocked resulting in death.
Side effects can be common with this treatment sometimes dogs experience soreness and swelling at the injection site along with some nausea.
The sudden death of the worms can cause fever, weakness and coughing and in severe cases heart failure.
Heartworm is an extremely debilitating condition so prevention is key
- If you live in area with mosquitoes, routine preventative treatment is vital throughout the life of your dog
- If you are travelling abroad with your furry friend talk to your vet before you go and ask him to prescribe heartworm tablets
- If you are importing a pup or rescuing a dog from abroad get them checked out upon arrival
Deworming puppies what to expect
Puppies will have worms if their mother has them fortunately there are treatments that can resolve the problem. When worming a puppy it is important to administer the correct dosage which usually depends on the puppy's weight and age.
After worming the worms will be passed in the pup's poop depending on the type of worms you may or not see evidence. There should not be many side effects from worming although you might notice the puppy being sick for a day or two.
Deworming puppies at home
Puppies can be wormed at home although it is best to avoid the cheapest treatments as these are not as effective and can make your little ones sick. Your local vet can prescribe a worming treatment or they can be bought over the counter at a pharmacy.
Always follow the instructions carefully to ensure you give the correct dosage.
Can children catch worms from dogs?
Yes, both adults and children can contract roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms from dogs although it is rare.
Roundworm eggs are present around your pooch's backside if he is infected therefore if he licks the area and then your child's face it is possible they can be ingested that way. Kids can also pick them up from any contaminated fecal matter so it is important to pick up any poop they might come across in the garden
Tapeworms are transmitted by fleas so if your child is playing with a dog that has a flea infestation it is possible they could ingest a flea and end up with tapeworms. Cases are rare but it is important to provide regular flea treatment for your dog which will eliminate the possibility
Hookworms enter through the skin and can occur if your child walks barefoot in contaminated soil. Regular de-worming and not allowing your child to go near your four-legged friend's toilet area should prevent any problems.
Can older dogs get worms?
A dog of any age can contract worms which is why regular treatments are so important. Older dogs like puppies are more vulnerable to the complications a serious worm infestation can cause and hookworm infestation especially is a common cause of illness in old dogs.
Deworming a dog that doesn't have worms?
Worming treatments are not like a vaccine they offer no immunity and cannot prevent your pet contracting worms in the future. However, many dogs show few if any symptoms of having worms so it is better to be safe and administer routine treatment just in case.
Can worms cause bloody diarrhea in dogs?
Yes, it is one of the symptoms of a worms although sometimes the infestation is quite established before this is noticed. Worm your dog immediately if you notice blood in their poop and contact your local vet as bloody diarrhea can also be a symptom of other serious illnesses.
How can worms be passed from dog to human
Worms can be passed for dog to humans either by coming into contact with contaminated poo or soil, via the skin or even through ingesting a flea. Regular worming, flea treatment and good hygiene should prevent this. Never let your child play where the dog goes to the toilet and clear any stools up immediately
Can I get worms from my dog sleeping in my bed
Yes, and you should never let a dog with worms' sleep in your bed but this is not to say you shouldn't let your dog sleep with you. Use common sense, Regular flea and worm treatments and bathing your dog will prevent the problem.
Is it necessary to deworm dogs?
Yes, worms left untreated can lead to serious illnesses in dogs and can sometimes even be fatal. There are often no signs of a worm infestation so it is best practice to deworm your four-legged friend regularly just in case.
How long does the medication take to get rid of worms?
Worm medications are usually effective after 24-48 hours. However, it is important to note, they only kill the adult worms not the eggs so most worming treatments are repeated every two weeks 3 or 4 times to completely eliminate the problem.
Always read the instructions to administer the correct dosage and make a note of the date given so you know when to repeat the process.
Worms in dogs are a common problem, as we have discovered not only do they make our hounds miserable they can cause serious damage even death.
All of these parasites can be prevented so it is worth talking to your vet.
Now you know how often to de-worm your dog and what is the best way to prevent your pet contracting these nasty dog worms it should be simple process.
De-worm puppies as soon as possible and continue with the routine throughout their lives After all when we get a dog we want them to lead a happy, healthy life and be with us for as long as possible.