Worms in Dog's

There are a number of different worms that can affect your dog. They include roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms and heartworms. Some will live in your dogs intestines and some in their tissue. Many worms do not pose a problem for your dog at all, and you will not even be aware that they are even there. Some worms your dog will be able to tolerate in small numbers, but in high numbers they can create serious problems.   

As a general rule your dog should be treated every six months for roundworms and tapeworms. These are the most common worm types, with roundworm being the bigger problem out of the two.

Puppies should be treated at 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 weeks.

It is very important to worm your puppy and your dog, as tapeworms and roundworms can also infect people.

It's worth checking with your local veterinarian to find out what is in your area, and how best to treat your puppy or dog.

In all areas where there are dogs, there are roundworm eggs.

Roundworms: (Toxocara canis)

Roundworms, also called ascarids, are whitish in colour. They look just like a piece of cooked spaghetti, and live in your dog’s intestine. They can reach up to eight inches in length (20cm) and feed off of your dog’s food, within their intestine. Roundworms shed eggs continuously. You can either treat your dog for roundworms every six months, or you can have your dog tested and only treat if your dog has them.

Roundworms migrate throughout the blood into the lungs, are coughed up, and usually re-ingested by the dog. Sometimes the larvae can also travel through the liver and the brain.

You may never see these worms, and one day one may come out in the dog's stool. They can cause bloating, diarrhea and vomiting. Your dog may stop eating, after passing a stage of overeating, and always being hungry.

In young untreated puppies roundworms can cause the bowel to rupture. Puppies get roundworms from their mother, as the larval worms migrate into the womb, or into her teats. A pregnant dam can be treated for roundworms, and should be.

Tapeworms (Taenia and dipylidium species)
Tapeworms look like a piece of rice on the stool but not in it, or sometimes can be seen sticking like little white eggs to the dog’s anus. Dogs with tapeworms will often scoot across the floor.     

There are a few different varieties of tapeworms, and it's worth noting that fleas can also carry them. So if your dog has fleas, or has had fleas, there is a good chance they could also have tapeworms.

Standard wormer doesn't always kill tapeworms, so a stronger wormer is needed.

Many vets recommend worming for tapeworm and roundworms every 6-12 months.

You cannot treat a pregnant or nursing dam, or puppies for tapeworm.

Like roundworms, people can also get tapeworms. A tapeworm is not that dangerous to a dog, it is referred to by some as the smart parasite, but it can be dangerous to people, causing serious liver disease.

The tapeworm actually consists of many white segments that are joined together like a tape. They tape together and can get to be several feet in length. Then they drop off to multiply. It is the segments that are seen as they shed. These segments contain the eggs which look like wiggling grains of rice.

Hookworm (Ancylostoma coaninum)
Hookworm looks like roundworm, but has teeth at one end that grab onto the dog’s intestine and attaches itself. It changes the attachment site at least six times per day. There is blood loss to feed the bloodsucking worms, but most blood is lost at the spots of detachment until they heal, thus causing anemia and iron-deficiency.

Hookworms and whipworms are bloodsuckers. These can make a puppy anemic.

Heartworms (Uncinara)

Heartworms live in the heart and large blood vessels, they are about six inches in length, and they are spread by mosquitoes. Heartworms show no symptoms at all until the disease is very advanced. When symptoms do appear they are the same as the symptoms for congestive heart failure sometimes causing fainting, coughing, difficulty breathing, dull coat, lack of energy, and an enlarged abdomen. Heartworms can be prevented. Dogs should be tested for heartworms, then given a preventive medicine. It is not wise to wait until symptoms appear before treating this dangerous worm.

Whipworms (Trichuris)

The name whipworm refers to the shape of the worm; they look like whips with wider "handles" at the posterior end. Whipworms develop when a dog swallows whipworm eggs, passed from an infected dog. Symptoms may include diarrhea, anemia, and dehydration. Whipworms are not visible to the naked eye. Vet diagnosis only.


Contrary to what the name suggests, ringworm is not a worm. It is a fungal infection of the skin that is contagious to other dogs, animals and to humans. There are several different treatments available, including a sulfur dip which can be obtained from your local vet.