One of the most common health problems of dogs is their susceptibility to worms. It is fairly known that our canine buddies are more or less carriers of these bothersome parasites that they can acquire and transmit through multiple ways. However, there might be a bigger problem in prospect when a dog owner is unaware of the tell-tale signs that their pet is suffering from severe pains caused by worms.
There are several types of worms that can inhabit a dog and they have their respective toll on your dog’s health—from seemingly insignificant behavior to visible physical detriments. These worms each respond differently to treatments but rest assured that early identification, as well as prevention, can do the trick!
10 Symptoms of Worm Infestation on Dogs
1. Change in appetite
If you notice a sudden change in your dog’s eating pattern especially when they seem to be always hungry, there is a chance that it is not their growth spurt kicking in but the worms depriving all the nutrients of your dog. This perpetual hunger stems from parasites invading the dog’s intestines. There are some cases wherein the dog will lose its appetite instead due to the stomach ache caused by the worms cramping the intestinal walls.
2. Weight loss
Since worms suck the nourishment a dog needs, rapid weight loss can be apparent.
Since dogs are naturally curious animals with a taste on just about anything that is remotely chewable, dog owners may hastily dismiss vomiting as a warning signal. Before wiping the floor, make sure that there are no worms present in the vomitus as there are worms that are visible to the naked eye which can be spewed by the dog.
Now, you might think that there is nothing wrong with a few coughs here and there coming from your dog, but when it occurs one too many times on a daily basis, then there is something to be worried about. Incessant coughing might point to an already advanced state of hookworms and roundworms infestation.
5. Gloomy disposition
On top of the other destabilizing signals directing at worm infestation, it’s no wonder why a dog can appear sluggish and peeved with jumpy activities.
This symptom can also point to other diseases or parasites with your dog and should be taken very seriously. In connection to worms, dogs can experience diarrhea with blood in their feces. The blood is primarily caused by hookworms damaging the dog’s intestinal walls through their sharp bites. Subsequently, the bleeding can be a primary reason for the dog also to develop anemia.
7. Worms in feces, fur, and anus
Worms, particularly tapeworms, can be seen by the naked eye. This is the easiest way to tell if a dog indeed has worms because you can observe a dog’s fecal matter, fur, and or the area around its anus to check the presence of worms.
Appearing bloated is a relatively common indicator of worms. This is most applicable to newborn pups as they can contract worms from their mother.
9. Dull or dry coat
When a dog’s coat appears to be lackluster, as a dog-owner, you should be alarmed. Aside from the dryness of their supposedly thick and healthy hair, a dog can also have bald patches, skin irritation, and allergies caused by the worms.
10. Scooting (rubbing of dog’s rear on the ground)
If you notice your dog rubbing its behind on the ground or against furniture, the area around its anus may be irritated by worms. Then again, this activity can also point to other health setbacks.
How do Dogs get Worms?
A dog can easily contract worms by just about any activity they engage in. Worms are everywhere, and dogs are naturally curious—a very difficult arrangement to break. Here are the common ways on how your dogs can catch parasitic worms:
- Birth - Puppies can inherit the worms carried by their mother when they are still in the womb or through their mother’s milk.
- Soil - Worm eggs are also found in dirt. If a dog came into contact with infected soil, the chances of it acquiring the worms are extremely high.
- Raw meat - Since worms are parasites that live on others, it dwells in the flesh. It’s innate for dogs to hunt and when they score a game that is infected with worms, swallowing its meat can result to a successful transmission of worms.
- Fleas - A parasite on a parasite. Tapeworms can also be found in fleas, and when a dog swallows one during self-grooming, the worm then infects the dog.
Common Parasitic Worms found in Dogs
Worms might be too small of an enemy but when they increase in number (which they do real fast!), they can be your dog’s greatest nightmare.
- Roundworms - these worms are dormant except when a dog becomes pregnant. It is easily passed on to the puppies in the placenta or through the milk post-birth.
- Hookworms - found in sand and soil, these worms draw blood from a dog and cause malnutrition for adult dogs and death for puppies.
- Heartworms - contracted through mosquito bites, this worm lives inside a dog’s heart and can extend up to 14 inches long. It damages the functions of the heart and lungs, causing death if undetected.
- Whipworms - another blood-sucking worm found in soil. It is not as harmful as that of the hookworm, but if a considerable number is in the intestines, it can be just as fatal.
- Tapeworms - dogs contract tapeworms by swallowing fleas. They cling to the intestines and rob the dog’s nutrients.
Oh No! My Dog has Worms! - How to Get Rid of Dog Worms
Dog owners should not rely on one particular approach of getting rid of worms. Various types of worms react differently to deworming treatments, but over-the-counter medicines can cast away multiple worms at the same time. It’s best to do your research first when choosing the type of dewormer for your dog and also to consider what’s appropriate for its age, size, and breed.
There are natural or herbal remedies you can opt to execute if you want to reduce the toxins and chemical components found in conventional deworming medicines. For example, giving them a regulated amount of garlic or mixing one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to their food can be beneficial to your dog’s immune system.
If you still find yourself in doubt of the multitude of methods to expel the nasty creatures from the inside of your dog, head on to the nearest veterinary clinic and seek professional advice regarding the problem.
Deworming Dogs the Natural Way
Is there a way to prevent dogs from having worms?
Unfortunately, there is none. Even if you lock your dog inside your house, a worm can still find its way to your pet somehow. Remember that worms are basically everywhere. Some may not cling to humans but it can cause serious trouble for your dogs. However, you can lessen the odds of their dogs picking up worm eggs by avoiding unsanitary places (e.g. sandboxes and outdoor public pet playpens), routinely giving your dog a bath, and yearly deworming.
In retrospect, deworming medicines do not have a lasting effect that can repel worms but, the advisable practice is to have your pet undergo vet-performed deworming. Deworming can only treat your dog from the worms they have already acquired but there is no precise method on how to prevent your dog from ever acquiring worms.
Can Worms be Passed from Dogs to People?
Yes, but not all worms found in dogs can be passed to humans. Tapeworms, roundworms, and hookworms are the three most common worms that people can pick up from their pets.
Children and adults alike are at risk of contracting worms if they accidentally swallow a flea or come into direct contact with dog’s fur with worm eggs.
If you have confirmed that your dog is infected with worms, take the necessary precautions to deter the worms from entering your body as well. Proper personal hygiene and a clean environment can substantially contribute on averting worms from entering a human’s body.
Win the Battle Against Dog Worms
Pets are like family, and just like family, they should also be taken care of. Yes, worms can be fatal if left untreated but early detection can save your dog’s precious life.
Take into account the disturbing behaviors that may suggest your dog has worms or any other health concerns. An annual general check-up of your dog’s well-being is the best prevention so make sure never to miss a visit to the vet!