Internal parasites are one of the most common health issues in dogs and you may wonder: What are the different types of dog worms?
There are five types of dog worms. It can be roundworms, heartworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Different worms have different appearances. Some types of dog worms even are easier to spot than the others. Aside from that, there are also non-worm parasites that can make your dog sick.
In this post, we’re going to discuss the general symptoms of worm infestation in dogs, the different types of dog worms and non-worm parasites, how to prevent internal parasite infestations, and how to treat it.
Since dogs love playing in the great outdoors, it is inevitable for them to pick it up. Here are the ways your dog can get infected.
- From their mother – Puppies can be born with roundworms because the larvae can be transmitted from the mother dog just before birth or through nursing.
- From swallowing infected animals – Rodents, fleas, birds, and other animals can be carriers of worm eggs. While some animals aren’t normal hosts of some dog worms, they can still carry the eggs, which can activate and grow inside the dog.
- From your dog’s environment – Taking your dog for daily walks mean your dog is exposed to everything in his environment. Dogs can ingest worm eggs since they can be present in the soil, grass, and other objects.
- Mosquito bites – Heartworms can be transferred through an infected mosquito’s bite.
Identifying the Different Types of Dog Worms
There are different types of dog worms. Each looks different from the other and sucks on your dog’s health in different ways.
Among the different types of dog worms, roundworms are the most common. There are two main species of roundworms that affect dogs: the Toxascaris leonine and the Toxocaracanis.
The Toxocaracanis causes more serious problems and can be transmitted to humans. It can grow up to several inches long.
Roundworms feed on partially digested food inside the dog’s intestine. They are creamy white and pinkish. They have a cylindrical shape. Roundworms also have three big lips surrounding their mouth, which can be seen through a microscope.
Roundworm eggs can be present in grass, soil and dirt so dogs can get it when they swallow or ingest these things. They can also get the parasite by eating an infected animal. Puppies may get roundworms from their mom.
Hookworms are also common in dogs. They are much smaller than roundworms and they look like small white threads.
They are named hookworms because they feed and suck on a dog’s blood by hooking itself to the dog’s intestinal wall. The hookworm’s teeth are sharp and they can cause a dog’s intestine to bleed – leading to blood loss and anemia.
There are three species of hookworms that can affect dogs: the Ancylostoma caninum, theAncylostoma braziliense, and the Uncinaria stenocephala.
The Ancylostoma caninum can also infect humans and cause problems in their digestive system. On the other hand, the Ancylostoma braziliense hookworms can enter the skin and travel through the bloodstream to reach the human’s trachea, lungs, and intestines.
Just like roundworms, dogs can get hookworms from their environment and by ingesting infected animals. Puppies can also get it from their mothers.
These parasites are named whipworms because they have long necks next to their short and fat bodies – making them look like whips attached to a whip handle.
Whipworms stay in the area where the dog’s small and large intestines meet. Like hookworms, whipworms can cause a dog’s intestine to bleed because they bury their long necks into the dog’s intestinal wall.
Dogs usually pick up whipworms from ingesting eggs other dogs have shed – either through contaminated soil or by grooming.
Unlike the hookworms, whipworms do not really cause serious blood loss unless the infestation is severe.
Among the types of dog worms, the tapeworm is easiest to identify. Tapeworms are flat worms that look like small rice-like segments. They are easy to recognize and are the least harmful to dogs.
Tapeworms are transferred to dogs by eating fleas that has eaten tapeworm eggs and ingesting infected rodents like gophers, mice, and rats, and some large animals.
There are several species of tapeworms that can infect your dog. For example, the Dipylidiumcaninum is a tapeworm found in fleas, whilethe Taenia and Echinococcusspecies are from small rodents such as rats, mice, gophers, rabbits, or some large animals like the sheep or deer.
Unlike other types of dog worms, tapeworms do not have mouths though they hold onto the wall of a dog’s intestine with hooks and suckers on their head. They survive by absorbing food across their skin
Heartworms are parasites that infest a dog’s circulatory system and heart.
When the population of the heartworm grows in the dog’s heart, it can cause the dog’s heart to not work properly –leading to his or her death.
Heartworms are spread through an infected mosquito’s bite. A mosquito can get infected by biting a heartworm-positive dog and spread the disease by biting another dog.
Non-worm intestinal parasites
Aside from the different types of dog worms mentioned above, your dog can also get non-worm parasites. There are some protozoa that can affect your dog like: giardia, coccidia, and toxoplasma. They are microscopic organisms that don’t really develop into worms.
These parasites can cause diarrhea and like most intestinal parasites, dogs get them by ingesting infected soil, dirt, or feces.
Read: Puppy Basics 101
How to prevent worm infestation in dogs?
You can never 100% prevent your dog from ingesting and getting worms and parasites. But you can prevent your dog from getting severe parasite infestation that could lead to serious health issues.
Make sure to follow your dog’s deworming and heartworm prevention schedule. Now, there are combination heartworm preventatives that can protect your dog from heartworms and some intestinal parasites.
If your dog is not on his monthly parasite preventatives yet, it’s a good idea to take him to a veterinarian to discuss what treatment he will need. It is important to have a new dog checked by a veterinarian before taking him home so he cannot transfer any parasites or disease to your other pets or family members.
What are the symptoms of internal parasites in dogs?
When your dog has severe worm infestation, he or she may show of the following symptoms:
- Coughing – Once a dog reaches the advanced stage of heartworm disease, he may start coughing. This symptom may also be present in dogs with hookworms and roundworms.
- Vomiting – Dogs with worms will often vomit. Sometimes, worms can be present in the vomit.
- Diarrhea – Loose and watery stool is a common symptom of worms.
- Lethargy – Since worms suck the nutrients of your dog’s food (or blood for hookworms), your dog may feel weak and sleepy.
- Enlarged tummy – In severe cases, a dog’s tummy may bloat due to the large population of worms present in his intestines.
- Weight loss – Worms feed on either your dog’s blood or the nutrients of his food. Thus, his body absorbs less nutrients and vitamins – leading to weight loss.
- Change in appetite – A dog who has worms may feel weak and lose his appetite. However, some dogs may have increased appetite as they often feel hungry.
- Dull coat and itchy skin – A worm infestation can also manifest in his skin and coat.
- Scooting – When a dog scoots, it could mean that he has either worms or anal sac problems.
- Visible worms in feces – The most obvious symptom of worm infestation in a dog is the visibility of worms in his poop.
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, a trip to veterinarian is a must. A veterinarian can determine if your dog has forms by checking his fecal sample for intestinal parasites and blood samples for heartworms.
How to treat worms in dogs?
Since there are five different types of dog worms, there are also different ways to treat each type of worm. Before treating your dog for worms, your vet must identify the type of worm your dog has first.
Then, your veterinarian will give your dog a proper dosage of any of the common wormers such as praziquantel, pyrantel pamoate,ivermectin, and milbemycin oxime. Depending on the severity of the infestation, your dog may need follow-up deworming sessions to effectively remove all the worms and eggs in your dog’s system.
Just like in many things, prevention is a lot better than cure. Heartworms are much harder and longer to treat. Preventing it is way more effective and safer than the treatment to get rid of them.
Dogs who survived the treatment may still suffer from heart problems and damage. A typical heartworm treatment involves a series of immiticide injections. Hospitalization is also a must.