The symptoms of dog worms can vary according to the type of worm infesting your dog's body. Learn how to spot whether your dog has worms and get an idea of which type of worms are most likely involved.
Common Symptoms of Dog Worms
A case of dog worms can produce a number of general symptoms that can tip you off to the infestation. Generally speaking, when the infestation has gone on for while, an affected dog will appear run down.
The main symptoms of dog worms include:
- A scruffy coat
- Bloated belly
- Lack of appetite
- Persistent cough
- Weight loss (In spite of the protruding tummy)
- Sporadic diarrhea
Any or all of these symptoms are produced when the worm population grows large enough to interfere with your dog's normal body functions. Your pet is robbed of nutrition, and his vital organs become compromised as the infestation rages on unchecked.
Symptoms Produced by Specific Worms
Now it's time to talk about the specific symptoms of dog worms associated with the most common worms your dog is likely to encounter. Remember, an infested dog may still display any combination of the symptoms mentioned above in addition to the specific symptoms produced by the variety of worm involved.
Tapeworms are one of the easier worms to identify with the naked eye, and they are generally transferred to a dog via fleas. In your dog's system, these worms are long and rather flat and have a number of segments. Occasionally the worms are shed in a dog's stool as these sections break off. You can spot them as rice-like grains in your dog's stool, but you might also find them stuck to the fur around your dog's anus. These living segments can also be found on floors, furniture and especially in your dog's bedding.
Specific symptoms of a tapeworm infestation include:
- An itchy behind
- Abdominal pain
Roundworms are identified by their spaghetti-like appearance, and they are sticky in texture. This allows them to easily transfer between dogs and even people. They are also easily detected in a dog's stool or vomit.
An infestation of this nature produces all the general symptoms listed at the beginning of this article. Additionally, a prolonged infestation can result in a bowel obstruction, so watch for signs of distress, especially the inability to pass stools.
Whipworms are not visible to the naked eye, but the symptoms they cause are very noticeable.Look specifically for:
- Slimey stools
- Bloody stools
- Severe weight loss
Hookworms get their name from the fact that they attach themselves to the walls of a dog's intestines with their mouths.
Signs of infestation include:
- Skin dryness and/or irritation
- Bloody stools/rectal bleeding
Heartworms may seem like they belong in a different category from the worms previously described because they primarily inhabit a dog's respiratory system rather than the digestive tract. However, these are still worms, and they produce very specific symptoms.
- A hacking cough
- Shortness of breath
- Fainting spells
- General malaise/weakness
- High blood pressure
- Congestive heart failure
Treatment of Dog Worms
When a worm infestation is suspected, it's very important to identify the species involved so the correct medicine can be used to kill off the worms and eliminate the symptoms. Whips, tapes, hooks and roundworms are all diagnosed by examining stool samples under a microscope for the presence of worm segments and/or eggs. Common wormers include, but are not limited to, ivermectin, pyrantel pamoate, praziquantel and milbemycin oxime. Always allow your vet to decide which medication should be used, as well as the proper dosage and administering schedule. Most wormers require several doses to effectively remove the worm population.
Heartworms are a greater challenge. Prevention of these worms is far more effective and certainly safer than the treatment to get rid of them. Dogs that survive the treatment may still suffer from heart damage. Treatment typically involves a series of immiticide injections and hospitalization is required.