If you’ve found worms wriggling in your dogs poop, it usually means you’ve found roundworms. Roundworms are the most common and in fact, most puppies will have a few roundworms some time in their lives. There are, however, other worms that can be found in poop. If you see what appears to be moving grains of rice in your dogs poop, it’s probably tapeworms which can be found in both young and old dogs. The other worm that can sometimes appear in poop are whipworms but these really only appear if the puppy has had a severe infestation.
The best way of checking for possible worm infestations apart from the finding a live one in the poop is by collecting a poop sample for your veterinarian to look at under a microscope. This allows him/her to check for worm eggs which aren’t visible to the naked eye. Although dogs can have worms with no overt signs, if the infestation is severe enough, usually the dog will be lethargic, have a pot belly and diarrhea. He might also be vomiting.
Roundworms in dog poop
Roundworms are most commonly seen in puppies but can self-activate if present in pregnant dogs and then infect the newborn pups. Puppies with roundworms have a pot-bellied appearance. The roundworms attached to the intestinal wall results in poor food absorption and the infected puppies usually fail to thrive. In extreme cases, roundworms can actually clog up the intestine and cause death. Sometimes you’ll also see the worms in the vomit or poop of affected puppies.
Most dewormers in the market will target roundworms. It must be noted that worming the pregnant bitch doesn’t seem to help ie they seem to still activate despite it which is why most breeders will worm puppies routinely. Most adult dogs, though, don’t get infected with roundworms.
Whipworms in dog poop
Whipworms are often very hard to see, because they aren’t usually present in large numbers. They look like skinny bits of thread but are so small it’s hard to pick with the naked eye.
Whipworms live in the dog’s large intestines and produce eggs only sporadically, unlike roundworms who produce eggs in copious amounts. This is why it’s often difficult to diagnose because several fecal samples may have to be taken to find the eggs in the poop. Because whipworms attach themselves to the intestinal walls and feed, they cause intestinal bleeding.
Puppies with whipworms are often anemic (therefore have low energy) and have diarrhea with blood in the poop.
Hookworms in dog poop
Hookworms can affect a dog at any age. It’s similar to whipworm in that it hooks onto the intestine and sucks blood resulting in anemia – which results in a lethargy, pale gums, diarrhea with blood. Hookworms are not visible to the naked eye so vets usually make the diagnosis based on finding the eggs in a poop sample.
Hookworms can be transmitted to humans by penetration of the skin – so walking barefoot over infected soil can result in hookworm infestation. Humans infected with hookworms have similar symptoms – ie bleeding in the intestines and diarrhea.
Tapeworms in dog poop
Tapeworms have a long, flat appearance – like a tape with segments that break off. They look like moving grains of rice on a dog’s poop and these are tapeworm segments. Heavy infestations of tapeworms result in vomiting, weight loss and sometimes itching around the anus, but most dogs with mild infestations show no overt signs at all.
The problem with tapeworms is that not all deworming medication target tapeworms. Read the labels of your dewormers (which will tell you if they cover tapeworms as well) to ensure that your dog is properly covered.
Treating worms in dog poop
Any way you look at it, if you see what you think are worms in your dogs poop, the best thing to do is talk to your veterinarian– although worms in your dogs poop will rarely kill your dog, the effects on your dog are strong and greatly affect the quality of his life. The veterinarian can quickly diagnose your dog and get rid of the worms.