You Discovered Worms in Your Dog’s Poop – Now What?

You Discovered Worms in Your Dog’s Poop – Now What?


Unless your pet is on a monthly dewormer, chances of worm infestations are significant. This is mainly due to the fact that most pets love playing in the dirt and go foraging when outside. It’s impossible to track their movement 24X7 just to keep them safe from intestinal worms. Even if you have an indoor dog that rarely goes out, your pet can still get affected by worms. According to Dr. Cindi Cox, a shelter vet in Boston, almost all puppies are born with roundworms because they get them from their mothers.

While intestinal worms are a health concern, they are easily treatable and preventable. That being said, serious intestinal worm infestation can be fatal if left untreated. If you spot a few worms in your dog’s poop, then there is a good chance your pet is not on dewormers or you just started deworming your pet for the first time. For someone who has never witnessed this before, discovering worms in poop can be nerve-wracking. While there is no cause for panicking, medical steps need to be taken right away.

Confirming the Presence of Worms

To be sure the problem is worms and not anything else, take your vet to the nearest vet’s clinic. It’s also helpful if you can carry a stool sample. Here’s what you should expect. The vet would conduct a thorough physical to detect any health issues caused by the infestation. The stool sample you brought in will undergo a fecal examination to determine the type of worm infesting your pet’s body. Some worms like tapeworm and roundworm can be spotted with naked eyes.

For reference, roundworms have a stringy appearance that resembles the shape of thin noodles.

Tapeworm segments present in stools look like white grains of rice.

Whipworm eggs are microscopic, but adult worms are sometimes spotted in stool samples. They have a typical white hook that resembles the shape of a fishing hook.

Types of Intestinal Worms

Let’s first get one thing out of the way, ringworms are not intestinal worms. A lot of people get confused, but ringworm in dogs is a type of fungal skin infection. No one really knows how ringworms got their misleading name. Long story short, you don’t have to worry about ringworms if your pet has intestinal worms. The following are the 4 types of intestinal worms commonly found in dogs.

Hookworm: Dogs usually get hookworms if they eat hookworm-infected feces. Hookworms can also directly enter the pet’s body from soil contaminated with the parasite. Puppies can also have hookworms as they are often transferred from adult mommy dogs to puppies via milk. These parasites are heavy feeders of blood and thus dogs suffering from hookworm infestations can experience anemia, bloody diarrhea, and signs of malnourishment.

Vets usually confirm the presence of hookworms by performing a test called the fecal float test. These tests are highly reliable and they are geared to finding hookworm eggs present the feces.

Hookworms can be treated by regular intestinal dewormers. Keep in mind that most dewormers can only kill adult hookworms. This means vets would probably recommend repeat doses to completely eliminate the problem.

Roundworm: According to AKC, almost all dogs get infected by roundworms at some stages of their lives. Roundworms feed on the undigested food present in the intestines. This, in turn, causes a lowering of food absorption, which may lead to malnourishment. Roundworm larvae can remain dormant in a female dog and get activated when the dog gets pregnant. The activated worm larvae then get transferred from mother dog to puppy. Roundworms are visible in stool and can be confirmed by performing a stool slide test at the vet’s office.

Almost all quality deworming products effectively kill roundworms

Whipworm: Treating whipworms is slightly more difficult as it often takes multiple deworming doses to eradicate them completely. Serious whipworm infestations can lead to several health issues and can even be fatal. Whipworm detection may require examination of multiple stool samples. whipworm eggs can survive up to 5 years without a host. This is why it’s very important to properly clean up your dog’s stool to prevent further infestations.

Deworming pills that contain active ingredients such as fenbendazole, moxidectin, oxantel, febantel, or milbemycin can effectively treat whipworms in dogs. Apart from treating the dog, it’s also important to destroy the whipworm eggs present in the surrounding environment. You can use yard and lawn sprays and other pesticides to kill whipworms eggs present in your lawn.

Tapeworm: Tapeworms usually grow up to be large in size and can be detected in the stool without microscopes. When infected, segments of tapeworms are often seen near the dog’s anus as well as in the stool. As disgusting as that may sound, tapeworms are easy to control and prevent.

Drugs containing praziquantel are extremely effective in killing both adult worms and eggs.

The Easiest Way to Prevent and Treat Intestinal Worms

There are a lot of drugs out there that can treat and prevent worms in dogs. However, the easiest way to prevent them is by administering a spot on product that prevents both fleas and ticks as well as intestinal worms. These broad-spectrum products are highly effective and they make your job a lot easier. Don’t rely on home remedies and natural solutions. They are often ineffective and they can cause nasty side effects.

When treating a minor worm infestation, which is yet to cause any physical symptoms, you can easily deworm your dog at home using a vet-recommended dewormer.

However, if your pet is suffering from serious health issues such as vomiting, bloody diarrhea, sudden weight loss, it’s always recommended to take your dog to the vet. Vets have access to strong deworming injections that work more quickly than traditional deworming pills.

Karen Acuna
Karen is a contributing author to Puppy Smarts. A full-time animal behavioral therapist, Karen has 20+ years dealing with specialty animals of all kinds. Karen lives in Dallas, TX with her husband and 3 pups.

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