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What to Do if There Are Worms in Your Dog's Poop

How to Rid Your Dog of Intestinal Parasites

By Maureen Ryan. December 13, 2013 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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A Dog Laying Down On His Arm

Different types of parasitic worms can infect your dog and cause debilitating illness and discomfort, but by checking regularly for signs of worms, you can protect your pet from undue pain and long-term problems.

When parasitic worms get inside your pet’s digestive tract, they cause suffering and severe medical problems. One of the best ways to check whether your dog is infested is to regularly check for worms in your dog’s poop — that’s right, as unpleasant as it may sound you should be looking for worms and eggs in your dog’s feces. If you spot them, contact your vet to start treatment as soon as possible. Here’s what to look for:

Hookworms

These feed on your dog’s blood, causing malabsorption, dehydration, diarrhea, and anemia. Dogs usually acquire hookworms and other parasites by eating feces containing the worms. However, hookworms can also burrow into your dog’s skin, entering at the paw pads from contaminated soil.

A dog with hookworms may have loose, dark, or bloody stool, and suffer from weight loss and dehydration. At those signs, your vet will need to check your dog’s stool. If hookworms are found, you can treat your pet with Drontal or another deworming medication. If the infestation is very serious, your dog may need iron therapy and a blood transfusion. While your dog’s shedding the hookworms, you should be careful to clean up all feces immediately to ensure that your pet doesn’t get reinfected.

Roundworms

Roundworms can infect an adult dog that’s ingested the microscopic eggs while grooming (licking off contaminated dirt), by eating an infected rodent, or via coprophagia (the medical term for eating feces).

It can take several months for symptoms such as a bloated belly, weight loss or changes to your dog’s coat to appear. The most obvious sign will be bouts of diarrhea that contain worms up to several inches long. You’ll need to administer several rounds of deworming medication to kill worms in various stages. Be sure to choose a medication that targets roundworms.

Whipworm

Theses string-like parasites cause severe irritation to the intestines and colon. As with other pathogenic worms, keeping your dog away from contaminated soil and poop is the best way to prevent infestation. Because whipworms can survive in their egg stage for up to five years, you should clean up after your pet right away so eggs that pass in dog poop won’t contaminate the area.

Symptoms of whipworm are very similar to those from other parasitic worms. While dogs pass whipworm eggs in their stool, these are microscopic so a vet needs to examine the feces to make a diagnosis.  Treatment includes typical deworming medication.

Tapeworms

Fleas carry tapeworm eggs. If your dog eats one of these fleas, the tapeworm eggs will be ingested. They then hatch and attach themselves to your dog’s intestinal tract. If you notice the typical symptoms of a parasitic infestation (diarrhea, weight loss), check your dog’s feces for wiggling pieces of a tapeworm or its eggs, which resemble grains of white rice. You should also check your dog’s rectum in case pieces of the tapeworm have stuck to the fur.

Iverhart Max or another deworming mediation will help to dissolve the tapeworm or paralyze it so it can be excreted.

More on Parasites

Parasites and Worms in Dogs and Cats
How Testing for Heartworm Changes With Life Cycles
Can People Get Heartworms?

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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