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Most pet owners are pretty shocked when they notice worms in their pet’s poop. Tapeworms, whipworms, roundworms, and hookworms, along with other intestinal parasites, are among the most common in dogs. These worms are usually very contagious and are also the root cause of several health issues. As long as your dog doesn’t see a vet very often for routine checkups so that the microscopic worm eggs can be seen in the poop of the pet, these parasites can also go undetected for a long time. Keep reading the article to find out what you can do to keep your dog safe from worms and how to notice worms in the feces of your dog. You will also find out how these parasites affect the pet’s health.
How Will Worms Affect The Dog and His Health?
A large role in how the health of the dog will be affected by certain intestinal worms is played by the age, size, and overall health of the pet. Other very important factors are the number, but also the type of worms that infect the dog. Although most worms will live in the intestines and the stomach of the pet, some of them can also migrate to other organs, like the lungs, kidneys, or heart. An interesting piece of information is that a ringworm is actually a fungus and not a worm.
Dogs will only need a few days to contract intestinal worms. They can be passed from the mother dog to her young when nursing, or even while the puppies are still in the womb. Some dogs might also ingest poop from other pets accidentally. If the poop is infected with worm eggs, it can pass them to the animal. A dog ingesting just one flea that is infected with tapeworm larvae can get contaminated with this type of worm. Worms are parasitic creatures known as obligate parasites, that will get all of the needed nutrition from their host. Dogs with a compromised immune system, as well as younger or smaller pets, are more likely to develop worms in their poop.
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Intestinal worms cause a bunch of other symptoms along with showing up in the dog’s poop, and here are some of the most common:
- Coughing (when the worms reach the lungs)
- Pale gums
- Weight loss (even though the dog has a big appetite)
- Loss of appetite
- Poor hair coat
- Abdominal bloating
- Excessive exhaustion
- Failure to thrive
- Mucusy or bloody diarrhea
You will have to call your vet as soon as you find any combination of these clinical symptoms. Also keep in mind that there are some types of intestinal worms, like roundworms or hookworms, that will also contaminate humans and are a huge risk to human health. Another concerning fact is that roundworms, as well as other worms, will live in soil for quite a few years and will be able to reinfect animals again and again when they come in contact with the eggs.
Common Signs of Worms in Dog Poop
The most common types of worms that will pass to the dog poop are tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms.
- Tapeworms – these worms won’t usually be part of the dog poop. Their egg sacs, on the other hand, can be found either sticking to a dog’s behind or right inside the poop and should look like grains of rice.
- Roundworms – they can be several inches long and look just like spaghetti.
- Whipworms – these worms will look just like small pieces of thread that are larger at one end.
- Hookworms – these are thin, small worms with mouth parts that look like tiny hooks.
Although it might not be the most pleasant thing you could do, if you want to properly identify the worms in your dog’s poop, you will have to take them, as well as a sample of the animal’s poop to your local vet for proper testing, diagnosis, and treatment. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to see adult worms usually, which means that a proper diagnosis will be made by a veterinary professional using a fecal float test. This test is done by dissolving a poop sample in a special solution that is then spun in the centrifuge. After this, it will be examined under a microscope and checked for any worm eggs.
Ways to Prevent Worms
As soon as you’re sure your dog is free from worms, you should talk to the vet and figure out a monthly worm prevention plan. Most of the monthly heartworm prevention medications will include both total worm prevention and intestinal parasite prevention. These medications are usually made to help your dog get rid of any intestinal parasites he might get exposed to. These medications should be taken as prescribed to ensure proper prevention.
Monthly broad-spectrum medication for worm prevention isn’t the only thing you should consider. You should also try to check your dog’s stool at least every 6 to 12 months for microscopic eggs. Keep in mind that there are no medications that have a 100% success rate, which is why checking the dog’s poop periodically will help keep the pet healthy.
Treatment for Intestinal Worms
The good news is that it is usually pretty easy to treat most kinds of worms in dog poop. Your vet will usually be able to provide a dewormer that will get rid of any adult worms that might live inside your pet. Among the most common dewormers are pyrantel pamoate, moxidectin, praziquantel, milbemycin, or fenbendazole. These can be found in a multitude of forms, including chew, topical, injections, tablets, or liquid medication. Dewormers are not easy to use, but also inexpensive, effective, and very safe. They will only require several doses to work. You will know that the dewormer is doing its job if the dog starts to pass more worms either in stool or vomiting.