Dogs are susceptible to several types of worms.
The most common types of worms in dogs are roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and heartworms.
So how can we tell if our dogs have worms? What are the common symptoms of dog worms?
There are in fact a lot of signs and symptoms of dog worms that we can pick up by keen observation of our dogs.
Early detection and treatment of worm infestations can, in most cases, ensure full recovery.
Below is a list of some common signs and symptoms of worms in dogs.
Symptoms of Dog Worms – General
Worms in Dog Stool
Perhaps the most obvious sign is the presence of worms in your dog’s stool. It is therefore important to take a look at your dog’s stool every time before you do your pooper-scooper duty.
Roundworms are the easiest to spot because whole worms can usually be seen in the feces. They are long, thick-bodied, whitish-to-cream-colored, and look like strands of spaghetti.
Tapeworm segments can sometimes be seen on dog stool or crawling through the hair near the dog’s anus. When dry, they look like grains of uncooked rice.
Hookworms and whipworms are difficult to be spotted because of their small sizes.
Heartworms are not intestinal parasites so they are not passed in the dog’s stool.
Except for heartworms, all other common types of dog worms live in the dog’s gut. Therefore, one of the symptoms of dog worms is gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea and vomiting, which over time will lead to appetite loss and weight loss.
If your dog has chronic diarrhea and/or vomiting, and is beginning to lose his appetite and weight, be sure to have a fecal examination to see if he has worms.
One of the symptoms of dog worms in puppies is stunned growth and the inability to thrive. This is understandable since a large amount of nutrients are being taken away by the worms, leaving the puppies undernourished.
Dogs with worms are lethargic and weak, as they are not getting enough nutrition from their own body. They do not have the energy for various activities that healthy dogs enjoy, such as walking, running, and playing games.
Symptoms of Dog Worms – Type Specific
Besides the above general symptoms of dog worms, different types of worms also cause specific symptoms in dogs.
Some specific symptoms of worms in dogs to look out for include:
Dogs, especially puppies, infested with hookworms are anemic because hookworms suck the blood of their host.
Signs of anemia include pale gums and mucous membranes, a pale or whitish tongue, weakness and lethargy, and in severe cases, panting, rapid pulse, and fainting spells.
Blood in Stools
Puppies with hookworms pass bloody, tarry stools.Dogs with heavy whipworm infestation have colitis (inflammation of the intestinal wall) which causes the dogs to pass mucoid and bloody stools.
A dog with tapeworms sometimes scoots on the floor because fresh segments of the worms crawling around the dog’s anus cause anal itching and the dog may scoot on the floor to relieve the itch.
A Pot Belly
Puppies with roundworms in their intestines usually have a pot belly. Another symptom of roundworms in puppies is that the puppies have a dull hair coat.
Coughing and Breathing Difficulty
Puppies with roundworms may also cough and have difficulty breathing. These symptoms are caused by the roundworm larvae in the puppy’s respiratory system.
In serious cases, pneumonia will result.
Dogs with mild to moderate heartworm infestations have a soft deep cough.
In cases of severe infestations, the infected dog will have difficulty breathing, panting, and have severe coughing after exercise to the point of fainting.
Congestive Heart Failure
Dogs with severe heartworm infestations also show signs of heart failure, such as the exercise intolerance, tiring easily, coughing, weight loss, and abdominal swelling.