Worms are one of the most unpleasant parasites that can affect dogs (and that are also transmissible to people and other animals like cats too) and they are also one of the easiest parasites for dogs to pick up, as they are easily passed from dog to dog contact, and even indirect contact in some cases too-such as by sharing food bowls, or even walking outside in areas where dog commonly commune and do their business!
Having a regular, effective worming protocol in place for your dog and reviewing it often is important in order to keep worms at bay, but many people wrongly assume that worm treatments work like flea treatments, in that they provide effectiveness for a set period of time after treatment-when in fact, they simply eradicate existing worms, larvae and eggs from the dog’s system, rather than preventing further infection. This means that in theory, a dog that has only just been treated for worms can contract worms once again just a few days later and go through the whole cycle again!
While regular worm treatments largely take care of this problem by eradicating worms present before they become a big problem or a threat to your dog’s health, it is still important to learn how to recognise the potential symptoms of worms in dogs, in order to nip any potential problems in the bud, or be able to identify if your worming product is proving ineffective. Read on to learn more.
One of the clearest warning signs that your dog has worms is if you are unlucky enough to see some of them in your dog’s poop! Dogs can contract a range of different types of intestinal worms, and you will not be able to see all of them at all of their life stages-but if you can see small white or off-white segments or strings in your dog’s faeces, this indicates worms present.
However, if you have wormed your dog in the last couple of days and the worms that you see are not moving, this may simply be due to your dog’s body expelling the worms that your product of choice has eradicated.
If your dog does not normally have a sensitive stomach and has not eaten anything out of the ordinary, regular or continual diarrhoea can alsobe an indication of a high worm count, which is affecting your dog’s ability to digest their food properly.
Stomach upsets caused by worms can also lead to vomiting, but as most worms live in the intestines, it is uncommon to see worms in your dog’s vomit. However, if you do see signs of worms in your dog’s vomit, this usually indicates a very bad worm infestation that will likely be affecting your dog’s health in other ways too.
When your dog is lying down and sleeping or otherwise relaxing and you can see their back end clearly, you might be unlucky enough to spot a living worm protruding from your dog’s butt. Once again, this indicates quite a bad infestation, and so needs prompt attention.
If your dog is apt to “scoot,” or drag their butt along the ground pulled along by their front legs, this almost always means one of two things are going on: either your dog has impacted anal glands which will need to be expressed, or your dog has worms that are itchy and annoying, and your dog is scooting in order to try to get some relief.
If your dog seems to be looking dull and unkempt, cannot maintain a healthy weight or has lost their lust for life and interest in exercise and activity, these very broad symptoms may be indicative of any one of a range of problems, but worms is apt to be the most common one. This is usually what your vet will look at in the first instance, as a high worm count can lead to all of these problems when present.
If your dog is losing weight for no obvious reason but is still eating normally, or is even eating much more than usual, this may be because your dog’s worms are taking all of the nutrients out of their food, causing them to lose condition without losing their appetite. Most dogs’ weight will fluctuate slightly at different times due to the changing seasons, their activity levels and their age, but if your dog is losing weight quickly for no good reason, consider whether or not worms may be the problem.
Finally, one canine worm that is rather different to most of the usual culprits is lungworm, which as the name implies, leads to a worm infestation in the lungs and respiratory tract. This type of worm infestation can be very dangerous and potentially even life threatening, so if your dog is breathing noisily, has a continual cough or otherwise has any form of respiratory problems, get them checked out by your vet ASAP.