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What are Dog Worms and How Do you Prevent Them?

Maintaining the inner health of dogs is crucial for every owner as a hidden problem residing inside the body can be more dangerous for the dog’s life. The presence of dog worms is among those invisible problems that, if they remain unidentified, can lead to severe damage to a dog’s internal organs. Providing timely and proper treatment is necessary to ensure a complete recovery from worms. Another challenge with dog worms is that they can spread to other dogs through the stool of an infected dog, and even humans can contract specific types of worms.

Being a responsible dog owner, you must understand every condition of your dog to prevent the spread quickly. Keep reading the article to gain complete information about dog worms, including symptoms, types of worms in dogs, treatment, and deworming.

What are Worms in Dogs?

Worms in dogs are small parasites that make a place in the intestines of dogs and feed off the blood or food in the intestines. They spread quickly throughout the organ and lead to symptoms that an owner can easily notice. Although it is common in several dogs, proper treatment is required to avoid deterioration in their health. Six distinct types of worms can infect a dog: tapeworms, whipworms, roundworms, heartworms, ringworms, and hookworms. The symptoms and treatment associated with them are separate and depend on the dog’s breed.

How Do Dogs Get Worms?

There are multiple ways in which a dog can get infected with worms. Here is detailed information about these modes so that you can avoid them to some extent:

Eating Raw Meat

Raw meat can be a good source for transmitting flukes and tapeworms into the dog’s body. These specific types of worms can create various cysts in the tissues of animals and remain present in them in an inactivated form. When a dog consumes such an animal, they get transferred to his body. These parasites become active in the body and multiply to infect the dog.

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Transfer from the Mother Dog

Puppies remain at high risk of catching worms if their mother is infected. They can be quickly passed to puppies in two different ways:

  • Worms can spread through the placenta to puppies even before they are born.
  • After birth, the mother’s milk can also act as a transmission source and infect puppies with worms.

Contact with the Infected Stool

This is one of the most significant factors that lead to the quick spread of worms into dogs. Worms are generally transferred through the route of fecal-oral. The parasite eggs remain in the poop, and if your pet dog comes into contact with them or accidentally eats them, it can increase the possibility of catching an infection. Moreover, hookworms can also infect your dog if he comes in contact with a stool with parasite larvae. Even skin contact with them provides a path for hookworms to enter the dog’s body. These worms can burrow through the dog’s skin and reach the intestinal area to infect the dog.

Eating External Parasites 

Worms can also be transmitted through the accidental consumption of external parasites like fleas. It is because parasites or tapeworms live in the inner body of fleas, and swallowing them can only make your dog infected with this parasite.

There are a few other reasons also from where your dog can get infected with worms, including:

  • Mosquito bites can lead to the transfer of heartworms.
  • Rodents are responsible for the transmission of tapeworms.
  • Licking the fur coat can give a path to hookworms.
  • Whipworms are passed through contaminated soil or grass.

How Do you Know if your Dog Has Worms? 

Although the health effects of every parasite are different, you can look at some signs in your pet. Following are of symptoms of dogs with worms:

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  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Deficiency in nutrition leading to weight loss
  • Poor fur coat appearance
  • Worms visible in stool or on the hind end of the dog
  • Pneumonia or blockage in the intestine
  • Blood in the stool of bright red color or dark purple

Heartworms also lead to respiratory symptoms, including coughing, labored breathing, weak pulse rate, intolerance towards heavy exercise, and even death in severe conditions. A few worms remain dormant in the dog’s body and intensify later on to become a problem. Dormant hookworms, in a similar manner, remain reinfested in the intestinal tract of the dog and become active in further time. If a dog gets pregnant at this time, it can infect the newborn puppies.

Types of Dog Worms

Dog owners must gain complete information about different types of worms in dogs because if such a problem occurs with their canine buddies, they will be able to identify it quickly and begin timely treatment for the pet. The symptoms and methods for getting rid of them are also different; hence, obtaining every detail about them becomes essential.


Small roundworms are common in puppies, whereas in adult dogs, it becomes tough to see any visible sign of catching roundworms. These worms have a spaghetti-like structure, can be several inches long, and are further light in color. You may see roundworms in the vomit or stool of the infected dog, usually after worming. There are three ways in which a puppy or an adult dog can get roundworms including:

  • Roundworm larvae can come in contact with the puppy even before birth through the placenta. However, the chances of transferring roundworm larvae to the nursing puppy through the mother’s milk are very bleak. These larvae only reside in their intestinal tracts and can grow up to 5 inches.
  • The consumption of prey animals having larvae in their muscular tissues can also make the dog vulnerable to roundworms.
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  • Adult roundworms pass eggs in their stool that can reinfest the dogs when eaten. After moving towards the intestine, the larvae come out that further migrate to the dog’s lungs.

Symptoms of Roundworms in Dogs

Clear symptoms of roundworms don’t get visible in adult dogs. In puppies, you will be able to notice poor growth and a pot-bellied appearance. Frequent diarrhea or roundworms in poop, particularly after deworming, are other signs of these parasites in your pets.

How to Get Rid of Roundworms?

Monthly deworming is an effective method for treating dogs with roundworms, as it can kill all worms in the body. Although the possibility of transfer of roundworms to nursing puppies is less, you can still give monthly deworming medicine for dogs after 6 to 8 weeks of birth. It can even save them for their entire life from catching parasites. The medication used to treat roundworms detaches them from the intestines and gets removed from the body with the poop.


Tapeworms are flat and segmented worms that can reside in a dog’s intestine. They are transmitted through a flea, and when the dog eats that flea, these worms begin to infect the dog. A positive thing about tapeworms in puppies is that they don’t cause any severe infection; in most situations, they only remain mild. In rare scenarios, it becomes severe and can lead to diarrhea and nutrition deficiency. The dog gets infected with this parasite when he eats the flea that had consumed the tapeworm eggs. Rodents infected with fleas or tapeworms are also responsible for transferring this parasite to a dog.

Symptoms of Tapeworms in Dogs

No noticeable sign indicates the presence of tape worms in dogs body. However, if your dog continuously licks or bites the tail area, you can look for the rice-shaped tapeworms stuck in the fur coat or around the anus.

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How to Get Rid of Tapeworms?

Common deworming techniques or solutions may not kill tapeworms inside the dog’s body. You have to make use of the one made particularly for killing tapeworms, and for this, you can see the composition and label of the solution you want to use for tapeworm treatment for dogs. The medicines used in the treatment break the tapeworms into small pieces that are not visible in the feces.


Hookworms in dogs are more dangerous as they stick to the small intestine’s wall and suck blood from that area. They can even lead to the death of puppies if not treated at the right time. These small and thin parasites possess a hook-like mouthpart that they utilize for attaching to the walls of the intestine. Adult dogs get infected with these worms when they come in contact with stool-contaminated soil having larvae or by consuming larvae present in the tissues of a prey animal. It can cause severe anemia in puppies due to the extreme loss of blood while feeding these worms. Even when they move to any other host, they leave behind minor bleeding ulcers.

Symptoms of Hookworms in Dogs

Adult dogs, even though they don’t show any significant signs, can still spread eggs in the environment. Here are some noticeable symptoms in puppies with hookworms:

  • Poor stamina and continuous weight loss
  • Anemia and bloody diarrhea
  • Dark-colored and tarry poops
  • Progressive weakness

How to Get Rid of Hookworms?

For the diagnosis process, the feces are examined under the microscope to know about the presence of hookworms. Once it is diagnosed, the vet provides the dog owner with a dewormer that helps kill the parasites. You can revisit the vet after 2 to 4 weeks so that baby parasites in dogs present in the intestinal tract can also be killed.


Whipworms in dogs are more common than cats and get stuck to the foremost area of the large intestine of the dog. Adult whipworms have a small thread-like structure with one end extended. Dogs infected with this parasite shed eggs in their poops. The shell of these eggs is tough and can retain its normal position for years. They can easily infect the dog again if a dog consumes them.

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Symptoms of Whipworms in Dogs

The number of noticeable symptoms is less in dogs with whipworms, but those few are visible. You can see dehydration, anemia, continuous weight loss, diarrhea having blood in your dog if he gets in contact with whipworms. Even vets are not able to find the presence of these parasites. In the stool examination, they are not identified, and only clinical signs are used for treatment.

How to Get Rid of Whipworms?

As the diagnosis of whipworms is very difficult, you can take the suggestions from your vet if you notice any change in your dog’s health. Based on signs and symptoms, the vet concludes and prescribes a whipworm medication. You can give the medicines after every three months to avoid the re-infestation.

Heartworms in Dogs

These are among the most problematic worms that can affect the dog’s health adversely. Mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of this parasite. Hence, it is advised that every dog owner take frequent measures to prevent heartworm in dogs and to safeguard against this parasite. These worms grow within the heart and can lead to fatal consequences like heart failure, organ damage, chronic lung diseases, and even death.

Symptoms of Heartworms in Dogs

In the early stage of catching this infection, your dog may show symptoms like weight loss, lethargy, and persistent cough. If you notice any of them, you can surely take your dog to the vet for an examination. However, after a certain time when these worms get mature, your dog can suffer from other chronic infections like bulging ribs and difficulty breathing. The last stage of this disease is severe, and a dog may have to face symptoms like a heart murmur, an extended liver size, and abnormal sounds within the dog’s lungs.

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How to Get Rid of Heartworms?

The best solution for heartworms is to prevent contact with your dog through regular testing or when you notice early-stage symptoms. The dog treatment for heartworms is expensive and lengthy, and the dog may have to face exercise restrictions. Using heartworm medicine for dogs doesn’t kill the matured heartworms and can even harm the infected dog. You can also provide your dog with special diets and diuretics to decrease fluid accumulation.


Ring worms in dogs don’t pose any serious threat to the dog’s life and can be cured with the treatment suggested by the veterinarian. Providing treatment can prevent the spread of disease from the dog to humans and other pets. Ringworms lead to hair loss in circular forms throughout the dog’s body. These parasites can begin their healing process in the center when they enlarge and create a patchy appearance on the dog’s body. Ring worm on dogs often do not lead to itching. However, this disease can spread to your house as the dog’s hair follicles break easily.

Symptoms of Ringworms in Dogs

Here are symptoms of dogs with ringworms that you can notice, and after which you can contact your vet for the ringworm treatment for dogs:

  • Hair loss in circular shapes and brittle hair
  • Inflamed skin or a significant change in the appearance of the fur coat
  • Nutritional imbalance and weight loss
  • Skin allergies
  • Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease

How to Get Rid of Ringworms?

The vet takes the hair sample or skin cells sample to perform the diagnostic test. After the worms are diagnosed, you can discuss the treatment plan with your vet. This plan will be formulated based on the infection severity, the number of other pets in the house, and the presence of children in the home. Usually, the vet makes use of the following three methods to treat ringworms in dogs:

  • Providing oral medicines
  • Performing topical therapy
  • Decontamination of the environment

Home Remedies for Worms in Dogs

Several cures for the parasites in canines are available that you can use for the deworming of your dog. You can include them in your dog’s diet and prevent him from consuming unhealthy medicines.

Pumpkin Seeds for Dogs

Pumpkin seeds are considered to be the best deworming food material. These seeds contain cucurbitacin, a deworming compound that can paralyze the parasites and prevent them from making a grip over the intestinal walls of the dog. Due to this reason, these worms come out of the dog’s body at the time of bowel movement.

Fruits & Vegetables

Various fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, apples, papaya, beetroot, etc., are the examples for natural dewormer for dogs due to the high quantity of fiber in them. You can include them in your dog’s diet as they can prevent your dog from worms and also help in keeping the dog healthy. However, you should not give your dog raw beetroots as it is impossible for a dog to digest them easily. Instead, you can provide your dog with shredded beetroots or treats made using natural beetroot.

Papaya for Dogs

A dog with worms can benefit from papaya fruit and seeds. The seeds have distinct anti-amoebic properties that can kill every type of intestinal worm in the digestive system. on the other hand, papaya for canines is good as the fruit contains papain, an enzyme considered to help remove the worms from the intestine.

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Turmeric is not only beneficial for the health of a human but is also good for a dog’s health. Various anti-inflammatories and antioxidants help reduce the digestive system’s inflammation and act as a natural medicine for curing the damages caused by worms in the intestinal tract. Turmeric also cleans the liver by eliminating the toxic elements in the dog’s body.

How to Prevent Worms in Dogs?

Giving a monthly dewormer can help in protecting your dog from intestinal parasites. Monthly medication is an excellent solution because most parasites’ life cycles don’t exceed four weeks. You can also give it to a pregnant dog to prevent transmission to her puppies. You can also follow the following methods to ensure better protection of your dog against the worms:

  • You should prevent your dog from hunting rodents or chasing wildlife as it can make them highly vulnerable to worms.
  • Try to control fleas and mosquitoes in your house to prevent tapeworms.
  • You can prevent taking your dog to the dog parks. It is because the dog gets exposed to larvae present in other dogs.
  • After the deworming process, dogs can become reinfested with parasites immediately. Therefore, cleaning the yard properly after your pet dog visits is essential.
  • You can also prefer annual fecal examinations at your veterinarian for adult dogs. It can be more frequent for puppies as they are at high risk of catching worms.
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Effects of Deworming

Deworming has no negative impacts on dogs, and it is usually preferred in treating and identifying dog worms. However, in some situations, your dog may face common symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, neurologic changes, and lethargy. These effects are mild, and you don’t have to worry about them. There is only one exception for dogs with an MDR1 gene or Multi-drug Resistance gene mutation. These dogs can face hypersensitivity to medications used in deworming. You can consult your vet to examine your do for this specific gene mutation. Therefore, you can prefer the best dewormer for dogs as the first step for treating dogs’ worms only after consulting with the veterinarian.


Dog worms are a common disease in adult dogs and especially in puppies. The dog owner must understand the symptoms associated with distinct types of worms so that proper medications can be provided to the dog at the right time. It is important to give timely treatment to the dog as these worms can even lead to fatal consequences. Moreover, you have to consult your veterinarian for a checkup whenever you notice changes in your dog’s health. Hope this guide has helped you to figure out how to prevent worms in dogs and home remedies for worms in dogs.