Flatworm Infection in Dogs: How to Deal With It? Overcoming Canine Flatworm Infections

Flatworm Infection in Dogs: How to Deal With It?

Flatworm infections in dogs are parasitic infestations caused by different types of flatworms, which are also known as trematodes or flukes. We will explore the causes of flatworm infestation in dogs, the symptoms that may manifest when an infestation occurs, treatment, and preventive measures.

The most common types of flatworms that infect dogs include liver flukes, lung flukes, and intestinal flukes. These parasites belong to the class Trematoda and can affect the digestive system, liver, lungs, and other organs of dogs.

In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of flatworms and their impact on our beloved canine companions. 

How do Dogs get Flatworms?

The causes of flatworm infections in dogs can vary depending on the specific type of flatworm involved. Below are some examples of typical causes:

  • Ingestion of contaminated water: Dogs can become infected with flatworms, such as liver flukes (Fasciola hepatica), by drinking water from contaminated sources such as ponds, lakes, or streams where intermediate hosts (snails) thrive.

  • Ingestion of intermediate hosts: By ingesting intermediate hosts, dogs can become infected with certain forms of flatworms, such as lung flukes (Paragonimus spp.). Raw or undercooked crustaceans, such as crabs or crayfish, can serve as intermediate hosts for the parasite.

  • Exposure to contaminated environments: Dogs can pick up certain flatworm infections, such as intestinal flukes (Heterobilharzia americana), by coming into contact with contaminated environments. This can occur when dogs swim or wade in water bodies contaminated with infected snails.

  • Intrauterine transmission: In some cases, flatworm infections can be passed from mother to puppies during pregnancy or through the mother's milk. This can occur with certain types of flatworms, such as some species of hookworms, which are not true flatworms but can cause similar symptoms.

  • Contaminated food sources: While less common, dogs can acquire flatworm infections through the ingestion of contaminated food sources. For instance, eating seafood that is uncooked or undercooked might spread some forms of flatworms.


The symptoms of flatworm infection in dogs can vary depending on the type of flatworm involved and the location of the infection within the dog's body. Common symptoms associated with flatworm infections include:

  • Weight loss: Flatworm infections can lead to unexplained weight loss in dogs. The parasites consume nutrients from the dog's body, which can result in reduced weight and muscle wasting.

  • Reduced appetite: Dogs who are infected could seem less interested in food or have less of an appetite. This may result in a loss of weight and general weakness.

  • Vomiting: Some dogs with flatworm infections may experience episodes of vomiting. This can be accompanied by other gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea.

  • Diarrhea: Flatworm infections can cause diarrhea in dogs. The stool may appear loose, watery, or contain mucus or blood. Chronic diarrhea can cause nutritional loss and dehydration.

  • Abdominal discomfort: Dogs may exhibit signs of abdominal pain or discomfort, such as restlessness, pacing, or a hunched posture. They may be sensitive to touch in the abdominal area.

  • Coughing: Dogs who have lung fluke infections may experience chronic coughing. Other respiratory symptoms like wheezing or difficulty breathing could also be present in addition to the cough.

  • Poor coat condition: Infected dogs may have a dull, unkempt coat. As a result of the parasites' nutritional deficits, their fur may seem rough, dry, or matted.


The specific diagnostic procedures may vary depending on the suspected type of flatworm infection and the resources available at the veterinary clinic. Some common methods used to diagnose flatworm infections in dogs are:

Treatment and Management Options

The treatment of flatworm infections in dogs typically involves the administration of anthelmintic medications that are effective against the specific type of flatworm causing the infection. Some general steps in treating flatworm infections in dogs include:

  • Veterinary examination and diagnosis: Before beginning treatment, it is critical to visit a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis. The veterinarian will identify the type of flatworm in question and examine the severity of the infection. They may conduct diagnostic tests such as fecal investigations to ascertain the presence of any flatworm in dog poop or blood testing to confirm the existence of flatworms and rule out any other underlying health problems.

  • Medication prescription: Once the diagnosis has been verified, the veterinarian will prescribe anthelmintic drugs that precisely target the identified flatworm species. These drugs are intended to kill or eradicate parasites from the body of the dog. The veterinarian will determine the amount and duration of treatment based on the dog's weight, health status, and other factors.

  • Follow the treatment procedure: It is critical to adhere to the treatment regimen prescribed by the veterinarian strictly. Administer the prescription meds as directed, being sure to complete the entire course of treatment even if the dog's symptoms improve before the treatment is finished. This helps to guarantee that all parasites are removed and prevents resistance from developing.

  • Supportive care: This may be required depending on the severity of the infection and the dog's condition. This can involve things like providing a balanced diet, encouraging hydration, and dealing with any subsequent health problems or difficulties caused by the infection. Your veterinarian will advise you on the best supportive treatment for your dog.

  • Follow-up examinations may be required to monitor the dog's progress and check that the infection has been successfully treated. The veterinarian may advise additional fecal or blood testing to confirm the absence of parasites.

Preventive Tips

You can take the following precautions to avoid canine flatworm infections:

  • Regular deworming: Follow your veterinarian's recommended deworming program and advise on the best deworming drugs. Deworming drugs aid in the elimination of numerous intestinal parasites, including several flatworms. 

  • Avoiding polluted water sources: Don't let your dog drink or swim in stagnant or potentially contaminated water sources like ponds, lakes, or streams. Always keep fresh and clean water available for your dog.

  • Environmental cleanliness: Keep your dog's living environment clean. Clean and sanitize living areas, bedding, toys, and food bowls regularly to reduce the possibility of parasite eggs or larvae contaminating the surroundings.

  • Control intermediate hosts: If your property has water sources that could be intermediate host breeding grounds, consider putting steps in place to control these hosts. Consult with local authorities or pest management professionals to determine the best methods for controlling snails and other intermediate hosts in your area.

Always remember that preventing flatworm infections in dogs is the best course of action. You may aid in preventing flatworm infestations in your dog and assist maintain their general health and well-being by adhering to these preventative steps and cooperating closely with your veterinarian.

Was this article helpful?