Worms In Dogs: What Effects Do These Worms Have On The Dogs

Worms In Dogs

Worms In Dogs: What Effects Do These Worms Have On The Dogs


The possibility that their cherished canine companion might be suffering from worms is something that causes the majority of dog owners to experience a chill down their spine.

However, a significant number of people do not have an accurate understanding of how widespread these parasites are or the impact they can have on the health of humans as well as canines.

Every complex species on this planet is infected with some number of parasites, which are simpler organisms that have developed in parallel to take advantage of the ecosystem on or within their host’s body.

The number of parasites that infect a complex species might vary. The word “worm” creates the mistaken idea of a homogenous population of earthworm-like critters.

In reality, however, the worms that cause problems for dogs come in a wide variety of forms and dimensions. The manner in which these parasites are passed from host to host is almost as varied as the parasites themselves.

Over the course of millennia, evolution has resulted in a variety of methods, including species whose larval stages “hitch a ride” on an intermediate host, such as a flea, which then transfers the infecting organism into a new host.

Another method involves the transmission of infectious organisms through feces. However, if a specific species of worm is dependent on an intermediary host, this may restrict its ability to move geographically.

For instance, the fluke-like parasite known as Paragonimus westermani has a highly complicated life cycle, which allows it to infect a wide variety of animals, from people to tigers. This allows it to spread from host to host.

This parasite is only found in certain warm and humid regions of the world because it must undergo its intermediate stages of development in crustaceans and molluscs.

It is most prevalent in the paddy fields of Southeast Asia, where many workers become infected and then spit out the larval stages that go on to reinfect creatures that live below the surface of the water.

Concerns Regarding Human Health

As was just mentioned, it is possible for people to contract worm infections after picking them up from animals that already had the disease.

worms in dogs

Because of the extremely close contact we have with dogs, we need to take extra precautions to ensure that we do not let them acquire significant worm burdens, which would put our own health in jeopardy.

It is not in the best interest of many of the species of worms that we regularly encounter to cause significant disruption to their definitive host. It is not in the parasite’s best interest to kill the host because doing so will restrict its own chances of survival and reproduction.

On the other hand, severe health impacts are significantly more likely to occur in the event that a non-definitive host is infected.

This is the situation with Toxocara canis, which will be addressed further down the page, and is the parasite that affects dogs more frequently than any other.

The frequency recommendations for deworming were developed primarily with human health in mind, rather than canine health.

Adherence to these recommendations is especially crucial for any dogs owned by families with young children, who are more likely to develop severe complications as a result of infestation and who also tend to be less conscientious about hygiene when handling their pets.

How Common Is It for Dogs to Have Worms?

It is reasonable to infer that all dogs have a worm load, with the exception of those who were produced in a laboratory environment that was devoid of pathogens.

No matter how clean an environment is, the parasites always find a way to pass their diseases on to the offspring, whether it be when the offspring are still developing within their mothers’ wombs, while they are nursing from their mothers, or in the environment itself.

Because the immune responses of the adult host cause the worms to become suppressed or walled-off in intestinal, muscular, neurological, or mammary tissues, many of the species that are a cause for worry spend the majority of their life in a quiescent state within an adult host.

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A pregnant woman’s immune system is suppressed because of the huge disruption to her normal physiology that occurs during pregnancy.

This suppression is caused by the elevated levels of glucocorticoids in her body. This suppression makes it possible for any dormant worms that may be present throughout the body to become active again.

The reactivated worms then migrate to the womb and mammary glands in particular, where they have the potential to be passed on to the pups during pregnancy, birth, and while they are nursing.

The life cycle of the worms starts over, assuring that they will continue to exist in the dogs of the following generation.

Different kinds of worms

As was just discussed, the species of worms that one is most likely to come across vary significantly depending on the region of the world.

The information that follows is pertinent to pets in the United Kingdom and Ireland; nevertheless, these parasites will also be seen in a great many other regions of the world.

Some of the species that are currently deemed to be ‘exotic’ or foreign to our shores may begin to appear more frequently in the future as a result of our changing environment, which, in conjunction with more lenient regulations around international travel,


This family of worms does, in fact, share certain similarities with the common earthworm that everyone is aware of, as the name of the family says it should. Nematodes are an alternative name for roundworms.

This classification encompasses a diverse array of animal species, such as:

  • Ascarids
  • Hookworms
  • Whipworms
  • Lungworms


These are the most common kind of worms because they have perfected the process of transfer from mother to puppy that was outlined earlier.

Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonina, and Toxocara cati are all members of this group; they are all parasites that preferentially reside in the gastrointestinal system of their hosts.

Puppies that are delivered to mothers who have not been dewormed within the past few months have a higher risk of developing truly enormous worm burdens and the characteristic pot-bellied appearance that is seen in many cases of neglect or abandonment.

In severe situations, the sheer quantity of worms can lead to gastrointestinal blockage or torsion, both of which have the potential to be lethal.

In most cases, the symptoms are not as severe and include symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, failure to thrive, and anemia. These symptoms are caused by the harm that the parasites cause to the gut.

It is possible to see long, white worms in the feces or vomit of these puppies. These worms are frequently still alive and squirming when they are expelled.

It is not the adult worms themselves that spread the infection; rather, it is the eggs that are discharged in feces and then hatch in the environment before being consumed by the next host.

Infestation can lead to a condition known as visceral larval migrans, which occurs when young worms move through organs other than the digestive tract.

This condition can occur in both humans and canines. This frequently involves the lungs, as evidenced by symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath.

However, the symptoms can be significantly more severe in humans. It is commonly considered that worm larvae have a more difficult time moving through a human host; nonetheless, there have been instances in which they have invaded the nervous system or the eye.

This condition manifests itself most frequently in infants and young children, and it is caused by an invasion of the eye by larvae, which results in the formation of lumps in the retina.

Because it may be very difficult to tell the difference between these lumps and an eye tumor known as a retinoblastoma, a significant number of youngsters have surgery each year to have their eyes removed because it is incorrectly assumed that they are cancerous.


Ancylostoma caninum is the most prevalent type of hookworm seen in canines; however, numerous other types, such as Uncinaria stenocephala, are also encountered.

Adult worms make their home in the small intestine, where they attach themselves with the help of their pointy mouthparts.

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These worms usually induce mild to severe anemia because they feed on the blood supply to the gut and also cause blood loss due to mucosal destruction.

This anemia, which again may present as an ill-thrift in early pups, can be a result of these two factors. It is also possible to experience diarrhea and vomiting.

These species reproduce through the laying of eggs in the digestive tract, which are then expelled in the feces and hatch somewhere in the environment.

There are two potential routes of infection for the subsequent host: Ingestion is the mode of transfer that occurs most frequently and corresponds to what is known as the fecal-oral route of transmission.

In spite of this, it is feasible for the larvae to pierce the skin thanks to the pointed mouthparts that they have, and then proceed to move beneath the skin, into the body, and into the digestive tract.

This ailment, known as cutaneous larval migrans, can lead to the development of sores in the interdigital webbing of dogs. The canines most likely to get this condition are those that are confined in small spaces and maintained in unhygienic conditions.


Although the symptoms of whipworm infestations are typically mild, causing little more than an itchy bottom, some younger pups may experience more severe colonic inflammation, which can result in bloody, mucous-laden diarrhea.

Whipworm infestations are typically caused by Trichuris vulpis, and although the symptoms of whipworm infestations are typically mild, causing little more than an itchy bottom. Transmission takes place through the feces-to-mouth pathway.


The disease that is caused by Angiostrongylus vasorum, which is also known in a more colloquial sense as the French heartworm, has in recent years been the focus of a significant awareness campaign that has been conducted in the mass media.

This particular roundworm spends some time developing inside of an intermediate host, such as a frog or a slug before that host is consumed by a dog, who serves as the definitive host for the parasite.

After being consumed, the larvae move via the digestive tract to the major blood veins located on the right side of the heart, where they multiply.

After the eggs have been laid, they are carried by the bloodstream to the pulmonary capillaries and alveoli, where they are stored.

There, they will hatch, and the subsequent larval stage will be coughed up, ingested, and passed in the feces, where it will be ready to infect the next intermediate host.

It is possible that the larvae will cause coughing as they hatch, but it is also possible that the adult worms will exude anti-clotting chemicals, which will cause the coughing.

It is possible for these anticoagulants to produce bleeding disorders, which can present as blood loss from the nose or the gut, bruising of the thin skin of the belly, or haemorrhage into the sclera, which is the white part of the eye.

There is also a possibility that dramatic symptoms, such as seizures or an unexpected death, will be present.

Although it does not represent a threat to human health, it is necessary to pay careful attention to the protocols for deworming because of the potentially serious repercussions that can result from an infestation with this parasite.


The tapeworm, most widely known as Dipylidium caninum, is a member of the other major class of worms that can infect dogs in this region of the world.

Tapeworms are characterized by a body that is segmented and a flat, broad shape, in contrast to the other types of worms that have been discussed.

These worms make their home in the digestive tract of their host animal. The passage of worm segments in the feces that are capable of carrying eggs is an essential part of the life cycle of the parasite known as Dipylidium.

Alternately, these parts have the ability to crawl out on their own accord through the anus. In the dog’s hair coat, these can appear as movable, white things that resemble grains of rice and are located around the dog’s rear end.

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After that, the eggs are discharged from this segment into the coat where they remain. In order for these eggs to mature into a stage that is contagious to dogs, they need to be consumed by an intermediate host.

This host can be a flea or a louse, but the latter is by far the more prevalent. During the process of grooming, the infected flea or louse is ingested by the dog, and the larvae are then released in the digestive tract, where they develop into adults.

Fortunately, the United Kingdom and Ireland do not typically experience an infestation of the other types of tapeworms that are prevalent in warmer regions of the world and that pose significant risks to the health of humans.

When developing home-cooked or raw recipes as an alternative to commercially produced pet food, one must keep in mind that it is possible for dogs (and humans) to acquire an infection with these other species as a result of eating raw or undercooked meat.

This is something that must be taken into consideration when developing the recipes. In most cases, the symptoms of a Dipylidium infestation are fairly moderate; however, it is possible that they will cause some degree of gastrointestinal discomfort.

Exotic Worms

Proper deworming is required as part of the preparations for international travel with pets, and this must be done in most cases both before departing the country of origin and before returning.

If you follow these instructions, your pet shouldn’t get any exotic infestations, the most common and dangerous of which is probably the heartworm, Dirofilaria immitis. If you follow these instructions, your pet shouldn’t get any exotic infestations.

This particular parasite can be found across a significant portion of the planet, including parts of southern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as Australia, the United States of America, and Canada.

Due to the fact that the transmission of this worm is dependent on the presence of mosquitoes, even though it is not currently endemic in Northern Europe, this may not continue to be the case in the future as a result of climate change.

Worm Treatment and Prevention

We are fortunate to have access to a wide variety of deworming treatments that are both highly effective and completely risk-free.

These are available in a number of different formulations, including oral liquids, tablets, and injectable forms. Spot-on products are also available, which will generally also treat external parasites through a single application to the skin.

However, some of these products have been available, used, and abused for decades, and it is usually worth avoiding the very cheapest products, as these are more likely to be ineffective and potentially have side effects.

As noted above, tapeworm infections constitute a particular example, in that Dipylidium requires an external parasite as an intermediary host.

Therefore, every dog seen to have tapeworms must be given anti-flea therapy at the same time as deworming. Failure to do so is certain to result in treatment failure.

For pups, a substance prescribed by a veterinary surgeon should be administered at roughly 3, 5, and 8 weeks of age. Monthly therapy is normally indicated subsequently up to 6 months of age.

For older dogs, deworming schedules should be chosen based on the dog’s lifestyle, taking into account the environment in which they reside, the immune state, and the presence of youngsters in the house.

At a minimum, an effective product should be given every 3 months, although this may expand to monthly for the reasons indicated above.

Deworming of bitches during pregnancy is crucial and gives the unborn puppies the best opportunity of starting life one step ahead of these stubborn parasites.

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