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Diagnose and Treat Worms in Dogs

Updated on March 28, 2013

Dogs Can Carry a Variety of Worms

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Just the idea that nasty worms could be living inside your furry friend is enough to make many dog owners turn a queasy shade of green. There are different types of worms that target dogs and, in addition to causing your dog discomfort and medical problems, you can actually contract some types of worms from your dog.

Worms in Your Dog’s Stools


You can tell a lot by a dog’s stools, which is why most vets ask dog owners to collect a stool sample and bring it with them to the check-up. In some cases, worms are clearly seen in the stools, but other types of worms are microscopic and the vet can only find them through laboratory testing.

Roundworms


Roundworms, one of the most common type of worm that affects millions of dogs every year is simple to spot in the dog’s feces. Roundworms resemble pieces of cooked spaghetti and are usually around 4-inches long. You might also spot them in your dog’s vomit.

Visible Roundworm in Puppy Vomit

Hookworms


Your dog can pick up hookworms from sniffing around other dog’s feces or from swimming in lakes and rivers. Hookworms are especially nasty when they pass from a mother dog to her newborn offspring, because the feed on the puppies’ blood, which can leave fragile pups anemic. If you’re going to breed your female dog, make sure she’s treated for hookworms before she’s bred.

Whipworms


Whipworms are less common than hookworms and roundworms but treating them is often more expensive because over-the-counter dewormers don’t do a good job of killing these worm. Whipworms can show up as blood and/or mucus in your dog’s stool because they irritate the colon.

Heartworms

Heartworms are heartbreaking for dog owners, but the good news is that a once-a-month medication, like Heartgard (an ivermectin product), will protect your beloved pooch. These insidious worms are passed from dog to dog via mosquito bites, and they cause considerable pain for the pooch. They grow in the arteries of the heart, blocking free blood flow and the transfer of oxygen. Treatments for heartworms are risky, expensive and painful, so the best way to deal with these buggers is to give your dog monthly heartworm preventative.

Treating Your Dog for Worms


A de-worming medication, given orally, will stop most worms in their tracks, but because dogs keep chewing on dead and dirty things, it’s best to repeat the deworming treatment every two months or so. Your vet might ask you to bring in a fecal sample after treatment to ensure that the parasites are dead.

Reducing Future Worm Infestations


You can’t completely eliminate the chance that your dog will get worms again, but you can reduce it by following a few easy steps.

Scoop your dog’s play yard daily, especially if you have more than one dog. Worms pass easily from feces to dog and a just-treated dog can be reinfected.

See your vet a minimum of once a year for testing and de-worming if you have indoor dogs. For outdoor dogs, or country dogs, twice a year testing is recommended.

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