The subject of parasites is not a pleasant one, but a quick primer in the five types of worms in dogs may even save your dog’s life. Some worms, such as roundworm, hookworm and heartworm can be fatal to dogs if they aren’t treated. So, here’s the low down on what to watch out for:
Roundworms look like strands of cooked spaghetti in both color and shape. Puppies may get a roundworm infestation from their mother either through her birth canal or milk supply. Infected rodents and infested soil are other sources of roundworm in dogs. Roundworms cause ruptured bowel in puppies and may eventually kill a dog if the infestation is left untreated. Symptoms of a roundworm infection include an extended belly, unexplained weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
Another deadly source of worms in dogs is the hookworm, which is a type of roundworm. Hookworms can only be seen under a microscope, so you must look for the signs of the parasite rather than for the worm itself. Bloody diarrhea, lethargy and pale gums are symptoms of a hookworm infestation. Other signs of this parasite in dogs may include, skin redness or itching, anemia and unexplained weight loss. Your vet can check for hookworm in your dog’s stool sample. Contact with an infected animal or its feces transmits hookworm. Puppies may also get the parasite from their mother before birth.
If you live in a warm climate, you may need to be aware of heartworm all year round as this is a mosquito spread parasite. Even if the problem is seasonal where you are, it’s important to be aware of heartworm and do your best to prevent your dog from contracting it because when the symptoms such as extended belly, coughing, lethargy and a dull coat appear, it means the infestation has advanced. Advanced stages of heartworm can be fatal to dogs if treatment isn’t given. Limit your dog’s exposure to other dogs and their stools such as by forgoing the dog park, at least during mosquito season. Also, don’t let your dog dig in the dirt as it could be infected with the parasite. Discuss heartworm with your vet for prevention and check up tips that best suit your geographic area.
Whipworms are a type of round worm that get their name from a thin shape that is thicker at one end than the rest of the parasite. These worms are very narrow and are found in the intestines, so your vet will have to identify them by checking for whipworm eggs in your dog’s feces. Symptoms are not usually as noticeable in whipworm cases as in other parasitic infestations, but anemia and weight loss may result. Dogs may get whipworm from ingesting food or water contaminated with the parasite or from infected animal stools.
Tapeworms in dogs can cause a lot of stomach pain and skin itchiness. Dogs infected with tapeworm may be more restless due to the discomfort. Dogs get tapeworm by ingesting fleas, but tapeworms can also be transmitted to humans and lead to liver disease. Moving segments of the worm may be found in the stools of dogs infected with tapeworm, while the eggs look like grains of rice. Knowing what to look for and keeping open communication with your vet can help you and your dog stay healthy, happy and worm free.