Find out what to look for and what to do when you notice the signs of worms in dogs.
Ewwww… Let’s just get it out of the way up front. It’s pretty gross when your dog has parasites. It’s something that most pet owners would prefer to avoid altogether. Worms aren’t just off-putting, though. A parasitic infection can have serious health consequences for your dog, and in some instances, can also pose a health risk to you.
Because many worms are hard to detect, the easiest way to catch the problem is to watch for the signs of worms in dogs. Those signs and symptoms can vary. The dog tapeworm, for instance, may only have mild health effects. Heartworms, on the other hand, are deadly.
In most cases, detecting the signs of worms in dogs is only the first step in treating the problem. Your vet will probably need to examine a fecal sample to determine what kind of worms your dog has, as well as the extent of the infection. The exception to this is heartworm, which is only detected by a blood test. So what should you look for?
7 Signs of Worms in Dogs
How to catch a problem before it gets out of control.
1. Worms are visible
Not all worms are visible to the naked eye, but those that are, such as roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms, can sometimes be seen in your dog’s feces or in the fur around their rear. They may look like small noodles or grains of rice.
2. Bloated belly
This is more common in puppies than in older dogs, but no matter how old your dog is, this is a sign of a serious problem. Roundworms reproduce quickly, and if not treated, can create blockages in your dog’s intestines. They can also affect humans, causing inflammation and possibly blindness in severe infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
3. Chronic weight loss and mucus-covered stools
Whipworms are challenging to diagnose, but fortunately don’t often lead to major health problems, aside from weight loss. Tapeworms, similarly, can cause weight loss or mild diarrhea in more severe cases.
4. Low energy and weakness
Because parasites are taking blood and nutrients, your dog may exhibit weakness and lethargy. According to PetMD, hookworms are especially worrisome, as “a severe hookworm infestation can kill puppies, often making them severely anemic from the loss of blood.”
Your dog could have diarrhea for a variety of reasons, from eating something they shouldn’t to a parasitic infestation. Extended bouts of diarrhea could lead to dehydration, so contact your vet right away if you notice this symptom.
6. Scooting or rubbing their rear on the ground
Like other signs of worms in dogs, this behavior can also be attributed to other conditions, such as problems with anal glands. However, it could be that your dog is irritated by worms.
Some dogs may vomit if they have worms, and in some cases, you may notice worms in the vomit, just as you might in their stool. Again, though, vomiting is also a symptom of many other problems, so in case you have any doubts, it’s best to get in touch with your vet.
If your vet determines that worms are the source of these symptoms, they will likely prescribe an oral medication or a short series of shots.
The Worst Worm of All
Although heartworm is especially prevalent in the southeastern and Gulf Coast portions of the U.S., it’s a risk almost anywhere in the country. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, travel through the bloodstream to your dog’s heart, and begin growing. According to the American Kennel Club, they can grow up to a foot long and reproduce continually.
Heartworm is deadly if left untreated, although the treatment itself can have serious side effects. A heartworm infection is also hard to detect as there are minimal symptoms, if any, until the infection is well-established.
The best treatment for heartworm is prevention. There are several monthly chewable heartworm treatments on the market, such as Heartgard or Tri-heart, some of which can also help prevent roundworms, hookworms, fleas, and tapeworms.
Because in most cases the signs of worms in dogs can mimic other illnesses, it’s best to contact your vet right away if you have questions or concerns. Like any health problem, the sooner you can start taking care of it, the better the chance you have of a successful treatment.
At Pekin Insurance, we know how much you love your pet; that’s why we want to help you give your furry friends the best care they can get. Call your local Pekin Insurance agent today to learn more about Pet Insurance.