Finding worms in your dog’s poop is an unsettling experience. While you may suspect heartworms, you may be surprised to learn that heartworms do not live in the gastrointestinal tract and are therefore not visible in dog feces. Other worms such as hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, and tapeworms may be present in dog feces. This article provides an overview of heartworm disease, as well as ways to identify the different types of worms found in our pets’ waste.
When quickly identified, dog worms can usually be treated with the appropriate medication prescribed by a veterinarian.
Heartworm Disease Overview
Heartworm disease is a serious condition that can cause death in animals, as well as severe lung disease, heart failure, damage to other organs, and other symptoms.
“Heartworms” are so named because the adult worms live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of an infected animal.
Dirofilaria immitis, a parasitic worm, is the culprit. The worms are transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. The dog serves as the sole host, allowing the worms to develop into adults, reproduce, and have offspring while inside the dog.
Symptoms of heartworm disease
Symptoms of heartworm disease in dogs include mild persistent cough, resistance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite, and weight loss. Due to fluid buildup in the abdomen, pets with heartworms can eventually experience heart failure and stomach inflammation.
Heartworms in dog poop
Since heartworms cannot leave a dog’s body through their feces, you will not find signs of heartworms in dog feces. If they are swallowed after coughing them out of the lungs, they will already be digested by the time they reach the stomach and small and large intestines.
If you suspect your dog has heartworm, you should take him to a vet for blood tests. This will check whether or not your dog has heartworms and your vet will be able to treat them. An injectable drug called melarsomine is given to kill adult heartworms in the heart and nearby vessels. This medication is administered through a series of injections, which your vet will determine depending on your dog’s health.
Canine Heartworm Disease
So what types of worms are in dog poop?
Roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, and tapeworms are the four types of worms most commonly found in dog feces. Read on to learn how to spot worms in your dog’s poop and what you can do to fix the problem.
Overview of Roundworms
Roundworms are worms that live inside your dog’s intestines and feed on partially digested food. There are two main types of roundworm: Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina.
Roundworms can contaminate dog feces, which can cause serious contagion problems in humans. These eggs can develop into larvae that congest different organs and cause serious diseases. As a result, you should always clean up after your dogs when they are outside, and you should keep children away from dog waste areas. Keep everyone’s hands clean at all times.
What does dog poop look like with roundworms?
Roundworms can be found in dog poop or vomit if your dog has them. They resemble long threads and are usually white or light brown in color. They can grow to a length of a few inches. See a vet with your dog if you notice any signs of a roundworm. To determine if roundworm eggs are present, they will examine a sample of your dog’s feces under a microscope.
There are many safe and effective deworming medications. To kill the adult worms, your vet will first administer one to three doses to your dog. To kill any new worms that have not fully developed when the initial doses are given, your dog will receive follow-up doses. That happens two to four times a year for pups. It occurs once or twice a year for dogs older than one year.
Overview of whipworms
Whipworms are intestinal parasites that measure 6 mm or about 1/4 inch. They live in the cecum (a pouch that forms the first part of the large intestine in dogs) and in the large intestine, where they can cause severe irritation to the lining of those organs.
Symptoms of whipworm infection include general weakness, weight loss, and bloody, watery diarrhea. Of all the intestinal parasites that can be found in dogs, whipworms are the most dangerous.
What does dog poop look like with whiplash?
Most likely, your dog has loose stools that are watery or bloody. A stool sample from a veterinarian is required because whipworms are rarely visible in a dog’s stool.
Treatment for whipworm
A vet must examine a prepared stool sample under a microscope to find tiny eggs. However, because an adult female does not begin to lay eggs until approximately 11 to 12 weeks have passed since she hatched, the tests are often misinterpreted as negative.
Therefore, any dog with persistent large bowel diarrhea should be suspected of having whipworm and treated accordingly, even if the stool sample is negative. It is customary to treat chronic diarrhea with a whipworm dewormer.
Overview of Hookworms
Hookworms are a common type of parasite with a hook-shaped mouth that attaches itself to your dog’s intestines. They can cause symptoms such as weakness, digestive problems, dehydration, and lack of energy.
Because they are hooked inside your dog’s intestines, hookworms are not often found in your pet’s waste. They are also quite small. Without a microscope, the adult hookworm, which can grow up to 3 mm in length, is difficult to see. However, you may notice some variations in the color and texture of your dog’s stool as a result.
What does dog poop look like with hookworm?
First, it takes 2-3 weeks for hookworms to start laying visible eggs; during this time, neither the behavior nor the stools are likely to change. Following this, your dog may begin to exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, decreased appetite, and weight loss, as well as black, tarry stools. Your dog could also develop anemia, which manifests as lethargy, weakness, and pale gums as the worms feed on blood.
Treatment for hookworm infection
Your vet will recommend a deworming medication to treat the infection if your dog contracts hookworm. Usually, fenbendazole, moxidectin, or pyrantel are used for this. This medication is taken by mouth for approximately two to three weeks. If the dog is weak, additional treatment options include intravenous fluids and electrolytes, as well as iron supplementation for anemia.
Dogs can contract tapeworms, a common intestinal parasite. They are segmented, flat and long parasites. The segments, which can resemble grains of rice, are excreted by infected dogs and can be found in their feces, their bedding, or on the fur around their anus.
Tapeworm infections are usually easy to treat and eliminate. Re-infection can occur if the source of the infection, such as fleas or rodents, is not controlled. Although tapeworms are not transmitted directly from dogs to people, they can still infect people who ingest dog fleas (this is more something that could happen with babies or young children).
What does dog poop look like with tapeworms?
Small segments are visible in dog poop, resembling white, moving pieces of rice, or they may appear dry and yellow.
You should consult a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. An antiparasitic medication called praziquantel is usually prescribed to treat tapeworm infections. Although it is often given as a single tablet, it is also offered as an injection and a topical formulation. Drontal, Drontal Plus, Droncit and other well-known brands are examples. A monthly dewormer could prevent reinfection.
What to do if you think your dog has worms
If you suspect that your dog has heartworm, you should know that this type of worm does not occur in canine feces. If you still suspect your dog has heartworm, you should take him to a vet for blood tests. This will check whether or not your dog has heartworms and your vet will be able to treat them.
What you are probably seeing is a different type of worm in your dog’s waste. Dog poop generally contains four types of worms: hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, and tapeworms. You should take a stool sample to your vet for accurate diagnosis and treatment if you notice worms in your dog’s feces. Worms can damage your dog’s internal organs, cause unconsciousness, and even cause death if left untreated.
Sources and further reading
This article is accurate and true to the best knowledge and belief of the author. It is not intended to replace the formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription or advice of a veterinary medical professional. Animals showing signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2023 Luisa Fiolek