Does my dog have worms?

Do you suspect your dog might have worms? 

Learning how to spot the signs of worms, and knowing how to protect your pet from parasites, will help to keep them happy and healthy!

What causes worms in dogs?

There are several types of canine worms, and each type of worm will have its own method of infecting your dog, as follows:

  • Roundworm – passed to puppies through their mother’s milk.
  • Tapeworm – fleas carrying tapeworm larvae can be swallowed by your dog when they groom themselves, or your dog might eat infected animal poo.
  • Lungworm – infects your dog through larvae found in the slime of slugs and snails, but lungworm larvae can also be found anywhere there may be slugs and snails, including grass, toys and outdoor water bowls.

What do dog worms look like?

Since there are different types of worms, they all differ in appearance. For example:

  • Roundworm – are spaghetti-like.
  • Tapeworm – can be very long (up to half a foot!) and flat. However, you might notice pieces of tapeworm that look like grains of rice, in your dog’s poo or around their rear end.
  • Lungworm – short worms that can travel throughout your dog’s body.
  • Hookworm – another short parasite, though hookworms have teeth.

If your dog has worms, it’s possible there’ll be visible worms in their poo or vomit. Some worms might appear around your dog’s rear end too.

Did you know? Ringworm isn’t actually a worm at all – it’s a highly contagious fungal skin infection!

What damage can dog worms do?

Parasites can cause different types of damage to our dogs’ health and wellbeing:

  • Roundworm – as one of the most common types of worms in the UK, roundworms cause damage by stealing food your dog should be digesting. They can be particularly dangerous for puppies.
  • Tapeworm – another common type of worm in the UK, the tapeworm takes in nutrients from your dog’s digestive system. Again, this type of worm is especially damaging for puppies.
  • Lungworm – sadly, lungworm can cause serious infections, which could lead to health problems like breathing difficulties and seizures.

How do I know if my dog has worms?

Knowing the signs of worms can help to prevent parasites causing problems for your pet! 

While many owners believe that seeing worms is the first sign of an infection, it’s possible for your pet to have worms without seeing them in their poop.

Symptoms of worms in dogs

Some symptoms of worms in dogs include: 

  • Diarrhoea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Lethargy (extreme or unusual tiredness).
  • Weight loss, despite increased appetite.
  • Dull coat.
  • Swollen or bloated stomach (a.k.a. ‘pot belly’).
  • Anaemia.
  • Coughing a lot.
  • Scooting or rubbing their bottom along the floor.

Please note: Sometimes, dogs don’t show signs of worm infestation – so it’s important to keep up with their worming routine. 

How to prevent worms in dogs

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to canine worms! It’s easier to prevent your dog from getting worms than it is to treat worm infestations.

Regularly using prescription worming products, recommended by a vet, can help to prevent parasites from becoming a problem for your dog. 

There are various types of worming treatments for dogs, including: 

  • Injections.
  • Spot-on.
  • Tablets (available in ‘chewable’ form!).

Other ways you can prevent your dog from getting worms:

  • Always clean up your dog’s poo as quickly as possible.
  • Refresh their water throughout the day.
  • Clean their food and water bowls daily.
  • Keep their bedding clean.
  • Groom them regularly.
  • Don’t leave any toys or bowls in the garden overnight.
  • Stop them from scavenging and eating grass.
  • Avoid letting them snack on other animals’ waste.
  • Try to avoid feeding them raw or uncooked meat.
  • Use vet-approved flea prevention treatments.
  • Book routine vet checks every few months.

Remember: Washing your hands is an important step in the prevention of worms, too! 

How to get rid of worms in dogs

Completely removing worms can be challenging if your dog is suffering from a heavy worm burden.

If your dog has worms, your vet might:

  • Use a poo sample to find out which type of worm is causing problems.
  • Examine your dog, to check for any physical signs of worms (e.g. flea dirt or worms in the fur around their back end).
  • Take a blood test, to assess your dog’s overall level of health.
  • Perform further tests (like x-rays or ultrasounds) to discover any internal damage worms may have caused your dog.
  • Give your dog strong worming treatment to kill worms quickly.
  • Recommend an ongoing treatment plan to stop worms from becoming a problem again in the future.

Ultimately, then, all dogs need routine worming treatment to prevent worms from harming them. 

You can contact the team at Joii Pet Care for advice, or work with your vet to set up a suitable worming programme for your dog.

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