How to Tell If Your Dog Has Worms

Typically, when a dog has worms there are several signs and symptoms that can help you figure out which type of worms are present and what may be the best method of treatment. Some types of worms are fairly harmless, while others can be deadly, but most worms are extremely contagious, multiply quickly and can cause serious problems if left untreated. A simple inspection and notation of differences in your dog's behavior can help to determine which type of worms are present.

Tapeworms Symptoms

If your dog has worms which are visible in the stool and matted or stuck to the area around the anus, these may be tapeworms.

Tapeworms resemble bits of rice and may still be alive when passed through the stool. Tapeworms are contracted by ingesting an infected flea. When the flea is broken down by the intestines, the eggs of the tapeworms develop and attach to the intestine to feed off the nutrients. Parts of the adult worm may break off, and because each segment can function by itself, you may see moving worms in the stool.

You may also notice the dog scooting the rear quarters to relieve the irritation caused by these worms. A smear from your dog's anus may be reviewed under a microscope to be certain tapeworms are the cause of symptoms.

How to Identify Roundworms

When a dog has worms that resemble spaghetti, this is likely roundworms. Roundworms are expelled through the vomit or feces, and they can be up to 7 inches long. These parasites are common in puppies and can cause an intestinal obstruction if not treated. Roundworm eggs can live in soil for many years and can be contracted from ingestion of infected soil, from eating infected rodents, or more commonly from an infected mother through her uterus at birth or through her milk while feeding. Puppies may develop a pot belly and can experience vomiting and diarrhea.

Hookworms Symptoms

If you suspect that your dog has worms, but they aren't visible to the naked eye, there may be other symptoms to look for. Hookworms are microscopic and also live in the intestines. This type of worm feeds on the dog's blood and has sharp teeth which can cause bleeding. Anemia may develop, and dogs or puppies may experience:

  • weight loss
  • pale gums
  • bloody stools
  • diarrhea

Whipworms in Dogs

If a dog has worms that are difficult to treat, this may lead to troubling symptoms. There are many over the counter de-worming products, but whipworms are resistant to some forms of medication. This parasite is also invisible to the naked eye and may cause intestinal bleeding, leading to signs and symptoms similar to those of hookworms. In this case, it's best to have a professional diagnose the parasites so the proper form of treatment can be recommended.

Dogs with Heartworms

If a dog has worms which have developed because of an infected mosquito bite, these are likely heartworms. Heartworms can be deadly, but are also quite easy to prevent. An infected dog may develop congestive heart failure, due to the weakening of muscles and tissue surrounding the heart. Dogs may not show symptoms until the infection is advanced, so prevention and regular heartworm testing are recommended in this case.