Why Worms are so bad For Your Dog and How to Treat Them


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Five types of parasites or more commonly known as worms, are problematic as they infect dogs. There are heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. The type of worm that will infect canines depends on the area you live. Here is why these worms are so bad for your dog.


Roundworms usually spread during pregnancy or in feces or nursing and are capable of causing serious problems in dogs. If puppies get infected by roundworms, it can be fatal. As roundworms eat the food of your canine, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Belly pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dull coat
  • Potbelly
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss


Hookworms usually live in the canine’s small intestine and suck the host’s blood. Adult canines get hookworms when they clean themselves or through their skin. These worms pass on to the puppies if their mother is infected. Canines that have hookworms exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Anemia
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflammation of the small intestine
  • The lining of ears, lips, and nostrils become pale
  • Poor appetite

If canines don’t receive treatment for hookworms on time, it can be fatal.


Heartworms infect canines when mosquitos bite them. Hookworms can grow up to 14 inches and live in the arteries that carry blood to the lungs and the heart of the canine. When heartworms infect canines, they cause the following symptoms:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Bulging chest
  • Difficult or rapid breathing
  • Dry and soft cough
  • Nosebleed
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Weight loss

If the canines don’t receive treatment for heartworms, they will attack the heart and block the flow of blood. As a result of this, the canines will collapse, suffer from shock, and their red blood cells get destroyed. Within a few days, the infection will prove fatal.


The area where large and small intestines meet is where you will find whipworms. They feed on their hosts by sucking their blood. Canines pick them up by grooming or from contaminated soil. Whipworms can cause the following symptoms in canines:

  • Anemia
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Large bowel inflammation
  • Weight loss

Whipworms cause serious problems when there is a large number of them.


When canines swallow fleas or lick themselves, they can get infected by tapeworms. Tapeworms attach to the intestine and absorb the nutrients of the canines. Tapeworms are made up of tiny segments that are as big as a grain of rice. There are no signs of infection when tapeworms infect canines. However, on rare occasions, the following symptoms can be observed:

  • Diarrhea
  • Distended abdomen
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Poor skin or coat
  • Weight loss


The type of treatment given by the vet depends on the worm infecting the canine. Fenbendazole and Pyrantel pamoate is used to treat hookworms and roundworms. To treat tapeworms, the vet will give Epsiprante and Praziquantel. For whipworms, the canine will receive Febantel and Fenbendazole. If the canine has tapeworms, Epsiprantel, Fenbendazole, and Praziquantel are effective. Always consult the vet before giving any medications to your canine. If you have any queries, feel free to leave a comment below.

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

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:


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 a 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 , Panacur C for dogs, 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 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.


These 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 of 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.


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 medication will help to dissolve the tapeworm or paralyze it so it can be excreted. Make sure to pick a dewormer that works on all types of intestinal worms, like Panacur C dog dewormer, to provide complete protection.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get rid of worms in dogs?

The treatment for worms in dogs depends on the type of worms they have, so it's important to have your dog properly diagnosed by a veterinarian before starting any treatment. Generally, there are several types of worms that can infect dogs, including roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and heartworms. Oral medication is the most common treatment for roundworms in dogs. The medication will either paralyze or kill the worms, which can then be passed into the dog's feces. Your veterinarian may recommend multiple rounds of treatment to ensure that all of the worms are eliminated. Roundworms are highly contagious, so it's important to also clean up any feces in your dog's living area to prevent re-infection. Similar to roundworms, hookworms can be treated with oral medication. In more severe cases, a veterinarian may also recommend supportive care, such as blood transfusions or IV fluids, to help your dog recover from the infection. Oral medication or injections are typically used to treat tapeworms in dogs. These medications will dissolve the tapeworms in the dog's intestines. It's also important to clean up any fleas in your dog's environment, as tapeworms are commonly transmitted through flea bites. Whipworms can be difficult to diagnose and treat, as they can live in the dog's intestines for long periods of time without causing obvious symptoms. Treatment typically involves a combination of oral medications and fecal analysis to monitor the dog's progress. Heartworms are a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated. Treatment typically involves a series of injections, followed by a period of rest and observation. Your veterinarian may also recommend supportive care, such as pain medication or IV fluids, to help your dog recover from the treatment.

Can dogs pass worms to humans?

Yes, dogs can potentially pass some types of worms to humans, particularly roundworms and hookworms. These types of worms are zoonotic, which means they can be transmitted from animals to humans. People can become infected with these worms through contact with contaminated soil, feces, or other objects that have been contaminated with infected animal feces. The risk of transmission can be higher in households with young children, elderly individuals, or people with weakened immune systems. It's important to maintain good hygiene practices when handling your dog's feces or any soil they may have come into contact with, such as wearing gloves and washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Additionally, regularly deworming your dog and keeping their living area clean can help reduce the risk of infection for both your dog and other members of your household.

Do I need to treat my house if my dog has worms?

If your dog has been diagnosed with worms, it's generally not necessary to treat your entire house. However, it is important to clean and disinfect any areas where your dog may have defecated or come into contact with contaminated feces. To clean up after your dog, use a plastic bag to pick up any feces and dispose of it in an appropriate manner. Wear gloves to avoid direct contact with feces. Afterward, clean the affected area with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water or a pet-safe disinfectant. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterward. It's also a good idea to vacuum any carpets, rugs, or upholstery that your dog has come into contact with, especially if they have been infected with tapeworms. This will help to remove any flea eggs that may be present, as tapeworms are often transmitted to dogs through flea bites. Be sure to empty your vacuum cleaner's contents outside of your home to prevent any worms or fleas from re-entering your living space.

Can I deworm my dog myself?

While there are over-the-counter deworming medications available for dogs, it's generally recommended to have your dog dewormed by a veterinarian. This is because the treatment required for each type of worm varies, and a veterinarian can properly diagnose your dog and recommend the most effective and safe treatment. Additionally, some over-the-counter deworming medications may not be as effective as prescription medications and may not completely eliminate the worm infestation. In some cases, using the wrong medication or dosage could also be harmful to your dog. Your veterinarian can also recommend a deworming schedule based on your dog's age, lifestyle, and any other health concerns. Regular deworming can help prevent future infestations and keep your dog healthy. Some types of worms, such as heartworms, require prescription medication and can only be administered by a veterinarian. If left untreated, heartworms can be fatal, so it's important to have your dog regularly screened for heartworms and treated promptly if they are diagnosed with the condition.

Is it safe to sleep with a dog that has worms?

It's generally not recommended to sleep with a dog that has worms. This is because some types of worms can be transmitted from dogs to humans, particularly roundworms and hookworms. While the risk of transmission is generally low, especially if your dog is being treated for the worms, it's still a good idea to take precautions to protect yourself and other members of your household. Additionally, if your dog is experiencing symptoms of a worm infestation, such as vomiting or diarrhea, they may be more likely to have accidents in the bed, which can expose you to the worms and potentially spread them throughout your living space.

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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