Signs of Worms in Dogs… And How To PREVENT Your Dog From Getting Worms In The First Place!

Signs of worms in dogs are not necessarily easy to see to the
untrained eye. As humans and living in most first world countries,
we simply do not have to deal with most parasites and worms nor the
treatment that goes with living with these types of worms and their

But most people do not recognize the signs of worms in dogs; and
did you know that if your dog has worms that this can actually lead
to these parasites infecting you and your family? The truth is that
children and geriatric people; those with weakened immune systems
are at highest risk for infestation, infection and the symptoms of

A large majority of puppies and kittens are born with worms. 
This is why veterinarians treat these parasites before any symptoms
of worms or infections are likely to be seen.  It is better
preventative medicine to deworm puppies and keep
adult dogs on a monthly dewormer, than to wait for symptoms of
worms to present and cause infection and intestinal distress.

Signs of Worms

dog training, puppy training, common dog training mistakes

The signs of worms can be different depending on what type of
worm the dog may have and the type of infection, intestinal
distress and symptoms he is showing.  We will discuss these
parasites at length further in the article.

However there are some general symptoms that automatically
denote a sign of worms or intestinal parasites that often live in
the intestinal tract and present in your dog’s feces.  These
signs are as follows:

  • Bloated Belly (dogs might look overweight)
  • Loss of Apetite
  • Weigh Loss (your dog might suddenly lose weight and
    look skinny)
  • Lethargy
  • Dingy Fur
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody or Mucus(y) Diarrhea
  • Failure to Thrive
  • Actually Seeing Worms on the Anus or in the


Types of worms vary greatly from intestinal worms to heartworms
and heartworm disease.

Most of these worms can be diagnosed and treated by your
veterinarian.  Your veterinarian and his or her skilled staff or
the laboratory that they use are all well skilled in identifying
types of worms.

20 years ago, as a veterinary technician I used to look at a lot
of fecal samples that were brought in by owners to try and diagnose
types of worms or worm infestation.  In veterinary medicine today
(at least at most of the practices that I have worked in, in the
past 10 years), most veterinarians prefer to send fecal samples out
to see if the dog has worms.  The laboratory employs employee’s
whose only job is to look for larvae or the eggs that are seen in
fecal samples.  Instead of entrusting a new veterinary technician
to evaluate your dog’s fecal sample for worms or worm eggs, when
veterinary technicians are also busy tending to surgery and
animals, and vaccinations; it is more probable that the laboratory
that your veterinarian uses (Antech or Idexx diagnostics) is more
skilled to ascertain if your dog has worms.

Once the worm or worms, parasites or infection has been
identified the appropriate treatment and drugs will be recommended
by your veterinarian.   These treatments and or drugs should kill
the worms, but regular prevention must be taken to prevent new worm
infestations and symptoms of worms in your dogs and cats!

First Let Us Talk About Intestinal Worms

The most common type of worms in dogs is a variety of kinds and
types of intestinal worms found in your dog’s feces.

Although some dogs will excrete a live worm, most worms (as
mentioned above) are diagnosed by evaluating your dog’s feces and
looking for worm eggs.  Eggs are seen and evaluated by your
veterinarian or his lab using a high powered microscope and other

And, remember!  Some of these worms can be transmitted to you
and your children!  So it is crucial to have your dog’s feces
evaluated and checked each year and to provide preventative
medicine and medication to prevent transmission of worms and

Type of worm is important, so let us start there!


Let us start with hookworms, because I think that hookworms can
be the most terrifying of the types of intestinal worm infection
that a dog can have because this one is very transmittable to

Hookworms as the name implies hook into your dog’s intestinal
tract and filters the blood out of your dog to survive.  They are
even referred to as an extremely dangerous parasite.

If left untreated these worms can often kill puppies and kittens
and dogs with weakened immune systems.


Symptoms of Hookworms

  • Blood in feces
  • Diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Coughing (severe hookworm infestation means that the
    hookworm can make their way to the lungs)
  • Pale lips, nose and ears


Because these worms are leaching blood they can cause serious
and dangerous infection.  These worms can also move through the
body if left untreated and travel to the lungs.  Severe infections
will cause anemia and paleness because the dog is losing blood
faster than they can make more.

In humans, hookworm larvae or immature worms can be transmitted
through contaminated soil or can even be transmitted if your dog
licks his anus and then licks you or your child in the mouth.  It
is this fact that keeps me from allowing dogs to lick me in the
face and mouth and something that also makes this worm more
dangerous for children (who are more likely to accept face and
mouth kisses).

The hookworm larvae can also travel through damaged internal
organs and even the eye, which can cause blindness and severe

Prevention is the most important aspect of avoiding these worms
for you and your dog!


Whipworms can also live in your dog’s intestinal tract and be
more dangerous than some of the other intestinal worms because if
treatment is not completed these worms can form an immunity or
resilience to some of the drugs used to kill them.

Symptoms of whipworms:



Roundworms can also be found in your dog’s intestines and
intestinal tract.

Roundworms come in two forms, one is more dangerous because it
can be transmitted to you and your children.

The eggs of the roundworms which can be found in the soil or
transmitted fecal to oral (just another reason not to let a dog or
puppy lick you on the face or mouth).  I think people think that
fecal to oral will never happen to them… however many, many
people allow their dogs to lick them and of course dogs often lick
their anus; hence fecal to oral dog transmittance to humans.

Symptoms of roundworms:

  • In humans severe vomiting and pain in the abdomen or
  • In dogs
  • Distended or swelled belly (often seen in puppies and
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing
  • In severe cases, the distended belly can


Sometimes these worms can even be identified in the stool of the


Tapeworms can be tricky little devils!

Tapeworms can also be transmitted to humans and they are also
one of the only types of worms that are difficult if not impossible
to identify through fecal samples and evaluations. They’re common
because tapeworms are usually transmitted when a dog digests a
flea.  So dogs that have fleas, or dogs that kill wild animals like
rabbits (etc) can be easily infected by tapeworms.

The tapeworm’s body is made up of tiny segments.  Each segment
of these tapeworms has it’s own digestive and reproductive
system.  These worms are typically identified as white pieces of
worm in feces or what looks like rice around the anus of your dog,
or even in severe cases what looks like rice where the dog

Tapeworm infections can be fatal.

Symptoms of tapeworms:

  • Biting at anus
  • Scooting or dragging his rear end


Avoid tapeworm infections by keeping your dog on flea and tick
medication year round.  Also spray your yard for fleas.  Make sure
that fleas are not a part of your dog’s life!


 is actually not a worm, but a parasite and protozoan
that can also give your dog projectile diarrhea and weight

This protozoan is easily passed to humans as well as several
other animals.

We used to see a lot of this kind of infection in Colorado when
I worked there as a veterinary technician.  The parasite and
protozoan giardia is often carried by birds.  We used to explain to
our clients that this is why people don’t drink from streams and
other standing water.  However, many of the dogs did, and most had
ingested the protozoan even if it was not in the cyst shedding

When giardia (almost impossible to completely get rid of)
infects the host and is it’s infectious stage cysts are shed. 
When feces are evaluated by your veterinarian or the laboratory the
evaluation is looking for these cysts.

I saw a lot of giardia in Colorado when I lived and worked there
and evaluated feces samples.  Giardia, interestingly enough is a
tear drop shaped protozoan that kind of appears to have a smiley
face when evaluated under and with the help of a high powered
microscope.  They are also kind of translucent. Typically ,these
protozoans are much smaller than the eggs we see when we are
looking for worms in dogs.

Treatment of the giardia cyst is usually very effective.  But
killing the protozoan entirely is, again, nearly impossible.  So
the protozoan usually lies dormant in the intestinal tract of all
those that are effected and infected.


Another type of intestinal parasite is called coccidiosis, it
causes watery and mucous based diarrhea in dogs and can cause
damage to the intestinal tract if not treated.

Causes can be as simple as stress from boarding or moving or
really anything that your dog finds stressful once the parasite is
obtained.   The parasite is spread by the fecal matter of other
infected animals and again is fecal to oral transmission.

Coccidiosis is most frequently found in puppies who have
developed the infection by being exposed to the feces of infected
adult dogs.  Remember puppies put their mouths on EVERYTHING. 
Unfortunately, it is also particularly dangerous to puppies and
dogs with weakened immune systems.

However, it is easily diagnosed through the examination of a
fecal by either your veterinarian or the laboratory in which he
uses.  And, thankfully it is easily treated once effectively

Again, as with giardia, eradication is nearly impossible with
this parasite.  This is why stress later in life can cause a flare
up.  But treatment of the symptoms can be very effective.  Once
your veterinarian has diagnosed your dog or puppy with coccidia
often seeking treatment will be easy.  Although just remember that
there are so many reasons that your dog might have diarrhea, with
the worms etcetera as mentioned above, that he might want to
evaluate a sample again anyway.

Treatment of Worms and Parasites

The treatment of severe infections of each type of worm and
several other types of parasites will be different depending on the
worm or parasite.

Thankfully there are a number of prescription drugs available to
your veterinarian that will treat them and some that will totally
get rid of them.

It is a good idea to get a fecal sample any time that your dog
has diarrhea or is having other aforementioned issues so that a
test can be run.  The good news?  It only takes a 1 gram size of
sample for your vet to run an effective test.  You don’t have to
pick up the whole pile or even much of it to have a fecal sample
run!  Your vet can even give you an easy to use tube to touch it
hands free.

This pretty much concludes the most common intestinal worms and
signs of worms in dogs.  Most of the most common heartworm monthly
(or otherwise) medications also treat your dog monthly for worms. 
Heartworm medications like Heartguard and other such types of
heartworm medications also deworm your dog each month or
treatment.   These medications kill all or most on the list except
for tapeworms.  Tapeworms require a special type of medication that
isn’t as readily available.  You can always look into
alternative therapies
but we don’t recommend it.

And, all of these reason and symptoms and dangers are why your
veterinarian deworms puppies and kittens regularly!  Worms are
dangerous and can be transmitted by the mother of the puppies and

I have saved one of THE MOST DANGEROUS worms for last.


Heartworms are dangerous and deadly!

Heartworms are also COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE!  Unlike being born
with intestinal worms or getting them from mom’s milk; heartworms
are not transmittable at birth or by the mother.

Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos.

A mosquito bites a dog, fox, coyote, or wolf with heartworm
disease and the baby heartworm called microfilaria are ingested by
the mosquito.  These baby worms or larvae then develop inside the
mosquito into the “infective stage†of the worm (a period of 10
to 14 days).  Then, when the mosquito bites a dog or another
susceptible wild animal the infectious larvae are transmitted to
the new host via blood and the bite.

Once inside the new host it takes about 6 months to develop and
sexually mature (this is why we test dogs over 6 months and
recommend prevention starting when dogs are puppies).  Once mature
these worms can live in the animals heart 5 to 7 years and create
great complications and death.  Each mosquito season can provide
more opportunity for infection and damage to a pet that already has
heartworm disease!

Symptoms of heartworm disease

Most symptoms are not shown until the disease has developed to a
heavily infected state.

  • Persistent cough
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss


It can also progress to heart failure, and a sudden death of the
worms can cause blockage of the heart and cardiac collapse which
typically results in death.

And, let’s face it mosquitoes are everywhere!!  I have heard
clients say “my dog doesn’t need heartworm prevention because
he never goes outside† and our answer is that it is simply
impossible to keep all mosquitos from entering your home.  Dogs in

all states
are at risk and some higher than others.

Heartworm disease is easily diagnosed through a blood test run
by your veterinarian.  And prevention comes in many forms these
days from monthly pills to products that last several months (but
may be more dangerous).  And prevention is generally cheaper and
safer than..

Source: FS – TheDogTrainingSecret
Signs of Worms in Dogs… And How To PREVENT Your Dog From
Getting Worms In The First Place!