Whenever you go for an annual visit to your veterinarian, you probably wonder why they always ask for a stool sample. This procedure is used to screen your dog’s poop for worms or intestinal parasites. Even if you don’t think that your pup has any worms, every dog is at risk of getting worms, whether you allow them to roam outside or not.
In this article, we address the thought of “why my puppy is pooping worms.”
Why Stool Exams are Necessary
Even if you haven’t seen your pup pooping worms, a fecal exam is still required. This is because most worms won’t be visible to the naked eye, with the exception of tapeworms in a few instances. As such, your vet will conduct a special test and examine your dog’s stool under the microscope for worms.
How Do Dogs Get Worms?
As a result of their social natures and outdoor lifestyles, there are different ways for dogs to contract worms and will be exposed to the risk of getting worms throughout their whole life. Here are a few circumstances in which dogs could get a worm infestation:
- Nursing and consuming contaminated milk from the pup’s mother
- Licking, sniffing, eating, stepping, or rolling in contaminated soil
- Ingesting or getting bitten by an infected flea, tick, or mosquito
- Eating infected prey such as birds, reptiles, and rodents
- Coming in contact with or consuming an infected animal’s vomit or dog’s feces
- Having contact with another infected dog or animal
It’s imperative to know that having parasitic worms live inside your dog’s intestines can cause serious health problems if left untreated. This is why it’s important to take measures to ensure the prevention of worms by speaking to your veterinarian. Below are some of the most common symptoms of worms that you can look out for to catch them early on.
Symptoms Of Dog Worms
It’s vital for dog owners to be aware of symptoms related to pooping worms; by the time your furry family members display any symptoms, chances are that they’re already far along the process. Here are some things you’ll need to keep an eye on:
- A pot-bellied appearance or distended abdomen
- Weight loss along with a big decrease or increase in appetite
- Chronic coughing
- Bloody diarrhea or frequent soft stools
- A dull coat accompanied by hair loss, inflammation, or skin irritation
- Visible tapeworm segments attached to their skin or fur within the hind quarters or anus area
- Visible adult roundworms in their fecal matter which look like small grains of rice
However, these symptoms may also indicate other kinds of illnesses, so it’s best that you contact your veterinarian quickly if you spot or suspect any of the symptoms outlined above.
Types of Intestinal Worms
Here are just some of the different types of worms that you might find in a dog pooping worms.
This is the most common type of worm seen in adult dogs, where adult worms reach a length of 3-5” and will also look like wet spaghetti. Roundworm eggs can be passed on through the nursing process, by coming into contact with infected feces, or by feeding on infected animals.
These have flat and long segmented bodies that can grow up to eight inches in length. Tapeworm eggs can enter the body of a dog when it ingests or encounters an intermediate host carrying the eggs, such as a flea or a bird.
Hookworms are among the smallest, most common intestinal parasites found in dogs, and primarily reside within the small intestine. These grow to one inch in length — because they feed on the blood, hookworm infection can cause life-threatening conditions in dogs, especially puppies. Hookworm larvae can be passed through feces and may infect other animals, as well as people.
These are around ¼” long and are found in the colon and cecum, where they can cause extensive damage to both organs. As such, they’re considered to be one of the most harmful worms for dogs. Be sure to head over to your vet right away at the first sight of whipworm eggs.
As their name suggests, heartworms live inside the pulmonary arteries and heart of dogs. They penetrate the body through infected mosquitoes, where the parasite eggs travel around the body for six months before resting in the circulatory system. Heartworm disease is only transmitted by infected mosquitoes — monthly heartworm preventatives can help to avoid a fatal outcome before reaching the advanced stages of infection.
While these are all common types of worms in dogs, the two most common parasites that veterinarians will see are roundworm larvae and tapeworm infections.
Deworming Treatment for Dogs
When diagnosed, arrested, and treated before reaching the advanced stages of infection, a dog that’s pooping worms is generally treatable. Your vet will be able to prescribe the right deworming medication, as well as the best treatment based on the worm and the extent of the infestation. The initial treatment for worms in dogs will vary depending on the type of worm.
- For tapeworms, the deworming process involves the use of medication to break up the live worms inside the dog’s intestinal tract. Moreover, flea control and preventative treatment are recommended.
- The best way to treat roundworm infections is to take dewormer medication that will detach the worms from the intestinal wall and expel them along with your dog’s feces. A second treatment will be needed in the next three to four weeks to ensure that there are no infective larvae left.
- In the case of hookworms, only the adults are killed by the oral medication, and a second treatment will be needed in the next two to four weeks to treat the babies that were left from the first visit.
- Whipworms are usually treated with prescribed medication which is applied in three or four-week intervals, and then once every three to four months to prevent another infestation.
- The treatment of heartworm in dogs will depend on the clinical signs of infestation. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics, injectable medications, special diets, diuretics to reduce fluids, and even heart medication in severe cases.
Be sure to consult your veterinarian before buying or administering any kind of over-the-counter prescription medication to your dogs. Only your vet can check the severity of your dog’s condition and can determine the proper treatment to pooping worms while ensuring that your dog is safe from any internal parasites.
Can Dog Worms Endanger People?
Some kinds of dog worms, such as the roundworm can be potentially infectious and even dangerous to humans, especially children who play around areas visited by host animals such as cats and dogs. However, a dog that’s pooping worms won’t be infectious right away — roundworm eggs need 30 days to develop before it becomes infectious. This means that the feces itself isn’t infectious to animals and people, but the dirt that will carry it over the next month.
Contaminated soil will usually serve as a home for hookworms — a beach or park may be hiding parasite eggs just waiting to get under your skin. Hookworm infections will usually be highly itchy but are treatable. This is why there are local restrictions in place for bringing dogs to beaches, along with strict laws for cleaning after your dog, which helps to limit roundworm and hookworm infections.
Unfortunately, around 10,000 children each year are infected by parasitic worms, where signs of worms include abdominal pain which may then lead to blindness in extreme cases. Below, we discuss the most effective preventative measures you can implement in your family to avoid serious problems stemming from dog worms.
- Ensure that your pet is under the care of a veterinarian to help protect them and your family from getting any kind of parasitic infection.
- Be sure to practice the four Ps of hygiene for your dog, which is to Pick up Pet Poop Promptly. Then dispose of it properly and wash your hands immediately after eliminating pet waste.
- Get into a habit of washing your hands frequently, especially after playing with animals, and avoid coming into contact with animal feces.
- Familiarize yourself with food-handling procedures to lower the risk of transmitting parasites from contaminated food.
- People with weak immune systems should be careful of getting in contact with any animal that could carry these infections.
How To Prevent Dog Worms
Luckily, there are many things that we can do to ensure that both young puppies and older dogs stay safe from dog worms. At the same time, you can ensure that every member of your family has a lower risk of becoming infected by and spreading these parasites. Here are just some of the preventative measures you can look into:
- Have initial treatments given to your puppies when they reach three weeks of age
- Have nursing females treated along with her litter in case worms weren’t detected in an earlier fecal sample.
- Have preventative dog worm medication every month given throughout the year as prescribed by your vet.
- Perform fecal examinations two to four times a year depending on your geographic location and dog’s lifestyle habits such as hunting.
- Clean up feces in the backyard periodically, at a minimum of two to three times a week.
- Immediately dispose of dog feces using sealable bags and sanitary gloves whenever you’re in dog parks, playgrounds, and public parks.
- Reinforcing hygienic and sanitary conditions around your home, which includes limiting contact with host animals, fecal matter, and contaminated soil.
- Practice safe hygiene in public places, especially when you’re with kids by avoiding or limiting their exposure to potentially infectious animals, people, objects, and areas.
Look for the Reason Why Your Puppy is Pooping Worms
As a pet parent, it’s up to you to ensure that your family and pups are safe from worms. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to keep your dog safe from the side effects that these parasites can bring. Keeping them away from wild animals and going for regular visits to the vet will help your dog avoid pooping worms and keep them happy and healthy.