Worms in Dogs

If dogs pick up worms, it’s usually through infected dog poos in the soil – anywhere from the backyard to the dog park.

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Dogs may be able to cope with the effects of a few parasitic worms, but in high numbers they can rob your dog of important nutrients and cause their health to suffer. Roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm are the common intestinal worms present in New Zealand. Some worms can be passed to humans from contact with soil or grass contaminated with infected dog poo. It is then called a zoonotic disease. Regular deworming keeps your dog healthy and helps protect your family from zoonotic risk.

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What are Intestinal Worms?

Intestinal worms are parasites that live in your dog’s intestines and feed off blood or other nutrients that they find there. Worms can be very unpleasant for your pooch and some can even be fatal if not treated.

In New Zealand there are four major types of worms in dogs to be aware of:

  • Roundworms in dogs: Adult roundworms are long, white and spaghetti-like, and live in the upper intestinal tract.
  • Hookworms in dogs: Much shorter than roundworms, hookworms have sharp, biting mouthparts which they use to attach to the intestinal wall to feed on blood. In severe infestations, the level of blood loss can be fatal.
  • Whipworms in dogs: Whipworms are an important cause of disease, even in older dogs.  Adult whipworms live in the large intestine where their thin head burrows into the intestinal wall.
  • Tapeworms in dogs: Fleas are the most common source of tapeworm for dogs. Good flea control will prevent flea tapeworm infestation  Tapeworms are made up of segments that contain eggs, and are passed out in the dog’s poo . The segments are mobile and can cause itchy bottoms.
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What do Dog Worms Look Like ?

At times, worms can be spotted in dogs' poo, but detecting a worm infestation typically requires laboratory testing by a veterinarian since worm eggs aren't visible to the naked eye.

How do Dogs Get Worms?

If your dog has been diagnosed with a worm infestation, you might wonder how this happened. Dogs can pick up worms through various means, even when they receive excellent care. Here are some ways your canine companion might acquire an infestation:

  • Eating them: Worm eggs and larvae may be present in any environment as many different animals (including wild animals) might carry worms and contaminate the soil. Your dog might accidentally ingest these eggs while exploring grass or soil. Additionally, eggs can adhere to a dog's fur, leading to infestation during self-grooming.
  • Skin penetration: Dogs can be infested with hookworms when larvae from contaminated surroundings burrow through the skin and make their way to the intestines.
  • Hunting: Dogs that hunt or forage for dead animals are susceptible to worm infestations.
  • Fleas: It may come as a surprise that fleas can transmit worms to dogs. Fleas can harbour tapeworm larve, and if your dog ingests an infected flea while grooming, it could result in a tapeworm infestation.
  • From their mother: Puppies can also contract roundworms from their mothers. This transmission can occur while in the womb or through the mother's milk during feeding.

Symptoms of Worms in Dogs

The symptoms of worms in dogs can differ based on the worm type and the dog's age. Here's a useful list to recognise worm-related symptoms:

  • Diarrhoea (runny poo), in the case of hookworms can often be bloody, while whipworms in dogs might cause diarrhoea with mucus. If your puppy experiences diarrhoea, it's possible that worms are present, and you should consult your veterinarian.
  • A bloated stomach, or potbelly, is among the most frequently observed symptoms of worms in puppies.
  • An itchy bum could be another sign of worms in dogs. When dogs drag their bum on the ground, it might be to relieve itchiness caused by certain worm types.  
  • It's crucial to remember that, at times, there might be no symptoms at all. For instance, tapeworm symptoms in dogs are typically absent. So, how can you determine if your dog has tapeworms or any other type of worm? In some cases, the only way to find out is through a professional examination by your veterinarian, and that's why regular check-ups are vital.

Worm Treatment for Dogs

NEXGARD SPECTRA offers an excellent flea and worm treatment for puppies and dogs, safeguarding against intestinal worms while also providing protection against fleas, ticks, and mites, all in a delicious monthly chew. Treating worms in dogs is simple and highly effective. Not only does it kill worms, monthly treatments prevents flea tapeworm. For dogs with a pre-existing flea infestation, or  when a flea tapeworm infestation is diagnosed, a  praziquantel containing product should be given.

If you need guidance in selecting the right product for your dog, don't hesitate to consult your veterinarian.

Worms can pose a severe threat to puppies. Your veterinarian can advise the best NEXGARD SPECTRA product to administer. The monthly treatment frequency is perfect for rapidly growing puppies.