Is your dog’s behavior off lately? If so, it may be a sign that he or she has worms. Worms are an internal parasite, which is a common health problem for dogs. Dogs can develop worms for various reasons: infected mothers can transmute worms to the fetus in the uterus or through breastfeeding or dogs who eat dirt or other contaminated objects can pick them up. Signs and symptoms vary with each type of worm, so here are six signs to look for to help identify which type your dog might have.
Types of Worms
There are many types of worms that a dog can contract, the five most common being roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms and heartworms.
Appetite or Vomiting
If your dog is ill and his appetite drastically changes, it could be a sign of a roundworm. These are normally found in the dog’s intestine and may travel through the blood to the liver, lungs and brain. If a dog ingests plants or soil that is contaminated with roundworm eggs, he or she will become infested. Sometimes, infested dogs overeat for a while and then eventually lose interest in food. Tapeworms also cause chronic vomiting.
A “potbelly” is another common sign of having roundworms. Potbellies are common with puppies who contracted worms from their mother. If your dog is eats regular meals and you notice this growth, contact your veterinarian.
Lethargy and Fatigue
Whether it’s a lack of energy or a decreased desire to play, fatigue can be a symptom of having roundworms or hookworms. Hookworms are parasites with a hook-like structure that attaches to the dog’s intestinal wall and consumes the blood. Since these worms suck blood, it is common for a dog to become anemic and develop blood loss.
If your dog is experiencing irregular bowel movements and chronic diarrhea, contact your vet immediately to test for worms. Hookworms can cause diarrhea or a black tar-looking stool and whipworms also produce excessively loose stool.
Scooting the Butt
If your dog scrapes his rear-end on the grass or carpet, it could be a sign of tapeworms. The dog’s stool may contain white rice or grain-looking segments of tapeworms. Tapeworms can also make an appearance around the anal region. These worms cause irritation, which makes the dogs scrape their behinds to relieve the irritation. Dogs that constantly groom the rear end could also have worms.
If your dog starts coughing for no apparent reason, he or she may have heartworms. Mosquitoes can transmit the larvae of heartworms to dogs. Once infested, heartworms multiply quickly in the blood stream. The most common sign starts with a cough, which develops to chest pain. If you notice this, contact your vet immediately. If not taken care of, the parasites can affect the vital organs, which can be deadly.
How to Treat
Depending on the type of worm, your veterinarian can prescribe the best treatment method. Normally, a medication is orally consumed or a topical is applied to the dog’s skin. Some worms can spread to humans so it’s best to take control of the parasite as soon as possible.