Symptoms of Roundworms in Dogs

Roundworms in dogs can be caused by a few different species of parasites. The two main species of roundworm are Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonine. Both species are usually treated with the same types of medications, but it is important for pet owners to know the symptoms of roundworms in dogs.

Roundworms Explained

Roundworms, also called nematodes, can grow up to five-inches or longer. These parasites, once ingested, will initially live in a dog’s intestines. However, they do not attach themselves to the intestinal wall. Instead they travel from the intestine to other parts of a dog’s body, such as the lungs.

There are several ways in which a dog can become infected with roundworms. Puppies can acquire roundworms from their mother before they are born or afterwards, if they are nursing. An older dog can get roundworms if he eats an animal that is infected with it. A dog that is exposed to or consumes roundworm eggs, which can be found in dirt, can also become infected with the parasite.

Symptoms of Roundworms in Dogs

A dog that is first infected with roundworms may not show any signs of the infection. Dogs with more advanced cases, however, will be symptomatic.

One of the most obvious signs a dog is infected with roundworms is seeing the worm or larvae in a dog’s stool, urine, vomit or saliva. Roundworm eggs can only be seen under a microscope and is only found in a dog’s feces.

A dog’s stool will be irregular and he may have a lot of gas. Aside from seeing the adult worm or larvae, a dog owner may also notice the stool is darker in color, is bloody, or the dog has irregular bowel functions. Dogs with roundworm usually have diarrhea. The severity of the diarrhea will depend upon the progression of the parasitic infection.

Once becoming infected with roundworm, a dog will lose his appetite and gradually lose weight. After not eating enough nutrients for a certain period of time, a dog can become malnourished, weak, and not want to do the activities he once enjoyed.

Coughing and difficulty breathing is often noticed in a dog that has had roundworms travel to the lungs. A dog may cough so hard that a worm is ejected from the lungs. The worm will look white and resemble spaghetti. A dog may cough so hard that he vomits, which can also eject roundworms from his body. Vomiting may also be a result of any stomach upsets the parasite has caused.

Dogs severely infected with roundworms will have a distended stomach, which may look like a pot-belly. If this is the case, the infection has advanced to the point that the dog will need immediate attention from a veterinarian.

Roundworms can also cause a dog to develop a urinary tract infection. If so, a dog will urinate often and may have to strain to do so.

Roundworms in dogs are relatively easy to treat, especially if the parasitic infection is caught early. It is important for dog owners to be aware of the symptoms so treatment can promptly begin.