Symptoms of Dog Worms :
Diagnosis & Treatment

The symptoms of dog worms can range anywhere from diarrhea and vomiting to no symptoms at all.

There are a few different types of worms that seem to affect specific age groups and health levels of dogs. In most cases, the worms can be removed with over-the-counter products, most of which are safe and effective.

Unfortunately they don’t always get rid of 100% of the worms nor do they prevent future infestations. Have your dog evaluated and treated every 3 months or so to stay on the safe side, especially if you live in an area known to have dog worms.

Make your way down the page to learn about all three types of worms or jump to a specific one by matching your dog’s symptoms:

Worm Type Symptoms of Dog Worms
Dog flatworms Usually none (must be diagnosed by your vet)
Dog Roundworms 
Dog Tapeworms Possibly none.  Occasionally: dragging rear-end on ground more frequently than usual, vomiting and/or diarrhea
Dog Ringworm Ringworm is a fungus, not a worm.  It begins as a small bump which expands into a ring that slowly grows larger.  In addition to the "ring" itself, other symptoms include:
  • Area surrounding ringworm will often be hairless or stubbly
  • Thickened skin
  • Scabbed, irritated skin

Ring-Ex is an excellent natural remedy.   It contains a blend of natural, herbal ingredients in a medicinal olive oil base, all specially selected to treat ringworm infections.

Ring-Ex will also help to prevent the spreading of ringworm to other areas of the body and reduces the chances of ringworm recurring after having cleared up.

Additional home treatment options can be found on our Dog Skin Conditions page.

Dog Flatworms

What are dog flatworms?

Flatworms are worms that attach themselves to the liver, lungs or small intestines of your dog.  They vary in size and create a strong attachment to the inners of your dog using small hooks and suckers.

Thankfully, these little pesky buggers can be treated easily and are relatively harmless as long as they are taken care of quickly.

How do dogs come in contact with flatworms?

If you’re like me, the minute your dog starts sniffing feces (so kindly left lying on the sidewalk by their owners), you tug the leash and say something like, “No, that’s gross, don’t do that!

Although the behavior is part of their genes, sniffing other dogs’ feces - besides totally grossing out us human dog owners - can actually be dangerous to your dog’s health.

Flatworms can be contracted through contact with feces by smelling, touching, eating, licking…well, no need to get into the unappetizing details - you get the idea.   

Dogs that enjoy playing in and around ponds or lakes are also susceptible to flatworms.  The worms can be contracted when the dog eats a fish or other small infected marine animals.

What are the symptoms of dog worms of the flatworm type?

Most flatworms never generate symptoms of dog worms!  Obviously, this makes it very difficult to suspect any problems or to make a diagnosis.  

So how are you supposed to diagnose a dog that is harboring flatworms?

Unless you have a spare microscope lying around to look for the eggs in your dog’s poop, it’s going to require a trip to the vet.  If your dog often comes in contact with feces or plays around ponds or lakes, it is a good idea for you to do frequent checks for flatworms and other parasites associated with this type of exposure.  

Dog Worm Treatment - Flatworms

There are a few drugs prescribed for flatworms, so talk with your veterinarian about your best options.  Again, it goes back to having your dog evaluated for symptoms of dog worms and treated if necessary every few months.

Treatment is very effective and usually only requires a single dose to clear away any issues.  

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Dog Roundworms

What are dog roundworms?

Roundworms are about 3 to 5 inches long and can resemble spaghetti in color and thickness. These worms live in the small intestine, but at no point do they attach themselves to the lining of the small intestine.

The following worms are considered a part of the roundworm family: esophageal worms, stomach worms, small intestine worms, whipworms, heartworms and lungworms.

What dogs are most commonly affected by roundworms?

It is quite common for young puppies to acquire roundworms from their mother at birth. The worms can be contracted from the mother’s milk or the worm eggs that hide in mucus membranes of the mother’s tissues.

If the breeder does not treat the roundworms, they are likely to stick around for as long as they please.  Therefore, it is important that you ask your breeder when and how they treat the puppies for roundworms…preventing the need for you to deal with this issue!

What are the common symptoms of roundworms?

The common symptoms of dog worms of the roundworm classification in puppies are:

Roundworms can also be found in adult dogs and are usually not harmful, but they can cause physical side effects including:

However, sometimes there are no symptoms of dog worms at all, so have your dog checked every 3 months (are you tired of hearing this yet?).

If your puppy has had any of these symptoms, call your breeder. Make sure he or she was treated with a deformer (worm killer). 

Next, especially if the answer is no, you should take the puppy into the vet to have them conduct a diagnosis of the stool. The worm eggs can be seen under a microscope.

Dog Worm Treatment - Roundworms

If you’ve just gotten your new puppy you are probably overflowing with excitement and love… the last thing you want to deal with is worms!

No worries! Roundworms are not difficult or painful to treat. Usually a simple drug will be administered allowing your dog to pass the worms during a bowel movement.

The roundworm eggs are a bit more difficult to get rid of and may require a few treatments.

Can you prevent roundworms from reoccurring in your dog?

There are some great preventatives for roundworms.  Treatments are dog-specific, so talk with your local holistic vet or one of ours for recommendations.

Can humans get roundworms from their dogs?

Well, we hate to be the bearer of bad news… but you have to hear it from someone.  Might as well be us!

Humans can acquire roundworms from their infected dogs, and they are the most damaging kind of worm in the human body.  The worms can affect multiple parts of the body and can continue multiplying until they are treated.  

Diagnosis of human roundworm cases can be difficult, but once diagnosed it is treatable.

For additional information on worms in the human body, please visit the Center for Disease Control.

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Dog Tapeworms

What are dog tapeworms?

Tapeworms can be found in many different lengths, but can actually get up to 2 feet long!  Yes…worms of this length have actually been found in dog’s small intestines, where they grip onto the sides with their mouth.

They have a very unique body structure, which includes segments 1/8 of an inch long, that break off of the worm’s body and end up in the dog’s stool.  These pieces contain eggs that release when the segment of worm dries up.  

There are three types of tapeworms:

  • Dipylidium Caninum - The most common type of dog tapeworm which is contracted by eating fleas.
  • Echinococcus Granulosum - This type of worm can be found in mice and humans. (Don’t worry…it’s harmless to us)
  • Taeni Taeniaformis - Dogs who live in rural areas and are around animals such as sheep, rats and mice are the common carriers of this worm.

How do dogs contract tapeworms?

The most common way for dogs to contract tapeworms is when they swallow a flea that is carrying a tapeworm eggs.  This usually happens when a flea bites your dog and your dog bites back, inadvertently swallowing the flea and everything the flea is carrying. For more on flea treatment and prevention, see our Dog Flea Medication & Treatment page.

The type of tapeworm that is carried by rodents, Echinococcus, can be transferred to a dog if the dog bites the rodent.  Hunting dogs are main targets for this type worm.

What symptoms of dog worms are associated with tapeworms?

Tapeworms are usually not harmful and often carry no symptoms of dog worms.

If you happen to notice your dog dragging her butt along the carpet more than usual, it could be a result of an irritated anus associated with the tapeworm segments breaking off.

If the tapeworm moves into the stomach of the dog, it could result in vomiting and diarrhea.

Dog Worm Treatment & Prevention - Tapeworms

Tapeworms can easily be treated with tapeworm medicine prescribed by your veterinarian.  

The medicine causes the tapeworms to dissolve and exit the body.  A single dose is usually sufficient, but certain cases will require a second treatment to fully rid the dog of the tapeworm.

Since fleas are common transmitters of tapeworm, one of the best ways to play an active roll in the prevention of tapeworms is to get rid of fleas using effective dog flea medicine and treatment.

Guess what else you can do...

You got it!  Take your dog to the vet to get checked once every few months - with or without symptoms of dog worms present.

As reviewed in the Roundworm section above, effective less-expensive-than-the-vet over-the-counter options also exist for both treatment and prevention such as FourGuardTM by Natural Wonder Pets.

Can humans get tapeworms from their dogs?

Dogs can’t transmit tapeworms to their human family.  

However, children have been known to acquire tapeworm while playing with their dog and accidentally swallowing a flea carrying the tapeworm eggs.

Symptoms include diarrhea and itching of the anus.  If you suspect that your child has contracted tapeworms, take them to the doctor and have them checked out.  

Treatments for human cases of tapeworm are very effective.

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