Identifying Worms in Dog Feces

Identifying worms in dog feces can help determine what treatment is necessary to prevent infestations in the future. If your dog shows signs of infestation, have your veterinarian obtain a stool sample. Since some worms are not visible except under a microscope, it is advisable to have a stool sample taken during your pet's annual visit just to be sure worms are not present.

Symptoms of Worm Infestation

Obvious symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting require immediate attention. While these symptoms are not unique to worm infestation, it is best to take your dog to the vet to confirm the actual cause of your dog's illness. Other symptoms include appetite and weight loss and a dull coat. In some more serious cases, the animal may even have a bloated abdomen that looks like a pot-belly due to the number of worms present in the dog digestive system.

Types of Worms

Roundworms are the most common worm infestation and are usually found in puppies. The worms can be transmitted through the mother's milk to the puppies where they then grow in the puppy's intestines. The worms look similar to spaghetti and can grow to over 7 inches. If the infestation is severe enough, it can cause an obstruction of the intestines and may cause death. Roundworms can also be in the soil and in infected feces so it is important to keep the area where the animal plays free of fecal matter. Since roundworms can also infect humans, washing your hands and keeping your animals worm free is especially important. Check your dog's stool or vomit if you suspect the animal is infected.

Hookworms are another worm that lives in the dog's intestines. The worms can also be transmitted through the mother's milk or through infected soil. Unlike roundworms, hookworms cannot be seen by the naked eye so if you feel your animal is infected, contact the vet immediately. The worm will attach itself to the intestinal wall with its sharp teeth, causing bleeding and abdominal pain. Symptoms usually are a bloody stool, anemia and weight loss due to the hookworm's ability to suck the animal's blood. Hookworms also can infect humans and the symptoms, while not as severe, do typically include abdominal pain and diarrhea. Treatment for canines can require blood transfusions in severe cases so it is important to take the animal to the vet as soon as you suspect an infestation.

Capillaria plica are found in a dog urinary tract. Infestations occur when the dog eats earthworms that are infected. Symptoms include blood in the urine, frequent and painful urination. Detection can be made by looking for eggs in the urine. While the infestation usually will go away in 3 to 4 months on its own, due to the animal's discomfort, dewormers are usually administered.

Heart worms cause the muscle of the heart to be destroyed and lead to congestive heart failure and even death. Mosquitoes spread heart worms by biting infected dogs. Late stage symptoms include coughing, lethargy and a dull coat. Since heart worms are hard to detect until fairly advanced, it is important to always have your animal on a preventative heart worm pill.