How to Identify Dog Worms

by Cindy Quarters
Puppies are prone to having worms.

Puppies are prone to having worms.

puppies image by Bobi from Fotolia.com

Different kinds of worms can infect dogs, causing the dogs to become ill and possibly even to die. Detecting the presence of worms is important, but it is also important to know what kind of worms your dog has so that you can effectively treat the infestation. In some cases there are over-the-counter medications you can buy, but in many others cases it is best to take your dog to a veterinarian for proper identification and treatment of the parasites. This is essential for some kinds of worms that you can’t detect without laboratory tests.

Step 1

Look carefully at your dog’s feces on a regular basis. In many cases, this is the first place you’ll see signs of worms. Long, spaghettilike worms called roundworms are common in puppies and are easily spotted in a dog’s stool. Rice-size white pieces in the stool or on your dog’s anus are tapeworm segments. These are not as easy to spot as roundworms but are often obvious when you look where they're most likely to be found.

Step 2

Watch your dog’s behavior for potential signs of trouble. A dog that scoots on his rear may be trying to scratch himself; this can be a sign of a tapeworm infestation, since the segments can cause discomfort. Check carefully for white tapeworm segments on his anus or under his tail. Another reason for scooting on the rear is an impacted anal gland.

Step 3

Suspect hookworms if your dog is vomiting or has bloody diarrhea. Hookworms are common throughout the world and can quickly cause your dog to become anemic. If your dog's gums look pale, please take him to his veterinarian immediately, as the situation could be life-threatening. Hookworm diagnosis requires a microscopic examination of the dog’s feces, since the worms are small and hard to see, but their eggs will be obvious in your dog’s stool.

Step 4

Take your dog to the veterinarian if he has a chronic cough. This is a classic sign of heartworms, but the condition might signal tapeworms or other serious problems. If your veterinarian suspects heartworms, she will draw blood and test it for proof of heartworms. She may also check for other parasites as well.

Step 5

Lift your dog and check his abdomen, especially if he is young. A rounded potbelly is likely to indicate the presence of a lot of worms, usually either roundworms or heartworms. Whether or not you see roundworms in your dog’s stool, if he has a potbelly you should take him to a veterinarian, as dogs carrying a large load of worms may need special care.

Step 6

Observe your dog for other signs that may indicate the presence of worms. If the dog's coat is dull, if he seems listless or if he vomits for no apparent reason, you can suspect a worm infestation. Take a stool sample to your veterinarian to determine the type of worms your dog has attracted and the appropriate treatment.

Tip

  • Your dog should be on a regular dose of heartworm medication, and many of these include the appropriate wormers to control intestinal parasites. This preventive measure will ensure that your dog remains worm-free.

Warning

  • Don’t assume that, just because you don’t see any worms, your dog isn’t infected. You won’t see hookworms or heartworms, but these can be fatal. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for worming your dog; if you suspect your dog has worms, even if he is on a worming program, take him in for an examination right away. He may have worms that do not succumb to the medication you’re using.

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