The Five Most Common Types Of Canine Worms

Posted on: 3 March 2015

Worms are a very common problem in dogs around the world. Most dog owners know that their pets can get worms, but not all of them know the difference between the main types of parasites that can affect canines. Here are some of the most common worms that your dogs could contract and how to recognize them.

1. Roundworms

Roundworms are a type of worm that is most common in puppies. The worm can be spread from mother to puppy during pregnancy or through nursing. Both puppies and older dogs can also get roundworm from consuming contaminated feces or small contaminated animals (such as mice).

While not all dogs show symptoms of roundworm, the following symptoms do appear in some dogs:

  • Roundworms (light brown or white worms that are a few inches long) in feces or vomit
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Distended Belly
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach Pain
  • Weight Loss

Even if your dog doesn't show any symptoms, you should bring a feces sample to your vet once or twice a year (or more for dogs under one year old). If your vet finds roundworms, they can be treated with deworming medication.

2. Heartworms

Heartworms are contracted from bites by infected mosquitos. The worms are so-named because they make a home in the heart and lungs of infected dogs. At first, most dogs show no symptoms. As the worms grow, though, you may start to see:

  • Coughing
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fainting

If left untreated, heartworms can be fatal. Treatment involves an expensive drug regimen after x-rays and blood work to diagnose the problem. Luckily, heartworm preventatives are available to keep your dog from getting them in the first place. Many flea and tick medications even have heartworm prevention included.

3. Tapeworms

Tapeworms are spread through infected fleas. Your dog can't get the worm just from having fleas, but he can if he licks himself while he has fleas and swallows one. Some symptoms you might see include:

  • Small segments of worms in your dog's feces or near his or her anus
  • Vomiting
  • Visible Discomfort (your dog may scoot across the floor or lick his or her anus in an attempt to stop the irritation)
  • Weight Loss

If your dog has tapeworms, the vet can prescribe a deworming medication that will dissolve the worms inside your dog.

4. Hookworms

Hookworms can be contracted by either ingesting larvae or a penetration of the skin by the larvae (often through the pads of the feet). Puppies can also contract the worms from their mothers, either during pregnancy or while nursing. Symptoms of the worm include:

  • Bloody or Tarry Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Anemia
  • Weakness
  • Eggs in Feces

Hookworms are treated with deworming medication. Once the round of medication is over, your vet will test your dog's feces to make sure the hookworms have been completely eradicated.

5. Whipworms

A dog can contract whipworms when he or she eats whipworm eggs either in soil or in an infected dog's feces. As the disease progresses, you may notice signs in your dog such as:

  • Bloody or Mucoid Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Lethargy
  • Anemia

Because whipworms live in the colon, they can be difficult to fully eradicate. Treatment usually involves three full rounds of deworming medication followed by a check of your dog's feces to be sure that the worms have been completely killed off.

Parasites can wreak havoc on your dog's organs, so you should always do everything you can to prevent your dog from contracting them in the first place. Go to sites and use preventative medications when applicable and supervise your dog when she is outside to prevent her from ingesting any soil or feces that could be infected.