How to recognize canine worms

Updated November 21, 2016

Recognising when your dog has worms is important, as they are a common ailment which left untreated may cause serious illness or death. There are five common forms of canine worms: heartworm, hookworm, roundworm, tapeworm and whipworm. Each will have some similar symptoms and some are treated with the same medication. Worms are mainly a disease of puppies and can be life threatening. Older dogs can get worms and in some cases they can be passed on to humans.

Examine your puppy for worms by looking for signs of respiratory illness. Touch your dog's nose; if it is hot and dry, the dog may have a worm that causes respiratory disease such as hookworm. Other respiratory signs to look for are hacking cough and frequent sneezing or gagging. Worms can actually crawl back up the dog's oesophagus and cause coughing or gagging.

Inspect your dog's coat. If your dog's fur starts to fall out or appears dry, it may have worms. If its hair is falling out in large patches or it has flaky skin, get the dog checked for worms. Inspect the fur around your dog's anus; if you see small white eggs, it probably has worms. The eggs and larvae of worms look similar to pieces of white rice. You may see your dog scratching, licking or biting its anus if it has worms.

Take note of your dog's faeces and vomit. Frequent diarrhoea or a bloody stool is a symptom of worms. You might be able to see worms in the fecal matter or vomit of your dog. Use a magnifying glass and wear gloves when you are inspecting the faeces. The faeces may have small white rice-shaped eggs or larvae present. The vomit may be clear, white or stringy.

Weigh your dog frequently; if it is losing weight, it may have worms. Your dog might be seen eating dirt or trash, which could mean worm infestation. An increase in appetite while the dog is still losing weight is a symptom of worms.

Feel your dog's stomach. A hard or distended stomach is a sign of worms. If your dog's abdomen is full of worms, it will be bloated and may make odd digestive sounds.

Things You'll Need

  • Scale
  • Magnifying glass
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