How Can Dogs Get Worms? 4 Likely Ways Your Dog Can Get Worms and How to Deworm Them

How Can Dogs Get Worms? 4 Likely Ways Your Dog Can Get Worms and How to Deworm Them

Although your dog may look fine and healthy, one of the most common concerns that you may face as a dog owner is whether or not your dog has worms. As gross as that thought is, heartworms and intestinal parasites may often be hiding inside your dog’s body. Roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms can cause serious health problems in your dogs if they are left untreated. But, how can dogs get worms?

Many parasites and worms live in the grass. Your dog may pick up some parasites, larva, or even eggs while playing, sniffing, and exploring on those grasses. When grooming themselves, dogs can also contract worms. Eggs of a roundworm may be stuck to your dog’s hair and a roundworm outbreak may occur while the dog is grooming their coat. Here are some important things you need to know about worms in dogs.

How Many Types of Worms Can Dogs Get?

There are mainly five types of worms that affect domestic dogs: tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, heartworms, and whipworms.

1. Roundworms

Roundworms are the most common intestinal worms that your pooches can get. Dogs can be prone to two types of roundworm: Toxocara canis (T. canis) and Toxascaris leonina. Even humans are vulnerable to T.Canis. It is important to provide proper veterinary treatment to newborn puppies. A fecal sample diagnoses roundworms and is treated with deworming drugs. When left untreated, in extreme cases, roundworms can result in poor growth or even death of puppies.

2. Tapeworms

Tapeworms are intestinal parasites that dogs acquire by consumption of any food that is infested with tapeworms or fleas. Once consumed, tapeworm hatches eggs that attach to your dog’s intestine. Infected canines may pass traces and segments of tapeworms in their stool. They also scoot their bottoms along the ground. Dipylidium canimum is the most common type of tapeworm that infects dogs in the U.S.

3. Hookworms

Hookworms are anemia-causing intestinal parasites. These can be fatal in young-born pups if left untreated. Hookworms are very small measuring about 1/8th of an inch. Infected dogs will pass hundreds of microscopic larvae through their stools, where they hatch and can stay alive for as long as several months in the soil. A dog can eat the infected dirt, lick it or sniff infected dog feces and get infected. Humans may get infected with hookworms as well.

4. Whipworms 

Whipworms are a type of worm in dogs that lives in the cecum, the opening of the large intestine. Dogs can get whipworms by ingesting infected soil, food, water, feces, or animals. Eggs of whipworms can survive up to five years in suitable environments. In moderate cases, whipworms don’t usually cause symptoms. But they can cause inflammation, weight loss, diarrhea, and even anemia in extreme cases.

5. Heartworms

Among all of the worms, heartworms are the ones that are mostly preventable. Mosquitoes are the carriers of heartworms. Heartworms survive and evolve within the hearts of the infected dogs, causing severe heart disease, lungs failure, and other internal organs damage. If left untreated, this may cause the death of dogs.

How Are Dogs Likely To Get Worms?

The idea and imagination of getting worms are very unpleasant and disturbing whether it is in your dog or yourself. You are very well known about how you get worms but your dog knows nothing about it. So as a responsible owner you must understand the risks, symptoms, and treatment tips for worms in your dog.

Here are some ways how your furry friend can get these worms:

  1. If your dog is outgoing and loves exploring, you must be very careful. Many parasites like hookworms and roundworms survive in bushes and soil. Your dog may sniff in eggs or larvae of worms while playing. For example, eggs of roundworms can pass into the soil from the stool of an infected host and lie dormant for years; your dog can accidentally contract these worm eggs.
  2. Most of the dogs like to hunt. It is possible for your dog to catch worms from other infected animals such as birds, rats, other dogs, and cats. Keep an eye on where your pooch plays and prevent them from scavenging infected animals.
  3. While grooming themselves, dogs can ingest eggs of worms and fleas. Fleas are known to carry tapeworm larvae. So ingestion of fleas can also cause tapeworm infestations and other parasitic diseases.
  4. Roundworm is one of the most common worms that affect canines. It can be transmitted to newborn pups from their mom in her womb via the placenta. An infected mother can also pass roundworms and hookworms to her newborn pups while nursing them. This means that puppies are at high risk of exposure to all five parasites.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Worms?

Tapeworms can be seen in the infected dog’s stool while other intestinal worms must be diagnosed by observing eggs of worms under a microscope. Heartworms can generally be detected by a blood test, a radiograph, ultrasound, or echocardiogram. The American Heartworm Society suggests that earlier diagnosis and treatment of heartworms in dogs will have a higher success rate of recovery.

Besides that, here are some of the symptoms that your dog exhibits when they get intestinal worms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Poor coat condition
  • Bloating of guts
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood mucus in stool
  • Labored breathing
  • Pale gums

How To Deworm Your Dog?

Here’s what to do if you suspect that your dog has any type of intestinal worms:

  1. Identify the worm and parasites that your dog is host to. If any of the above symptoms are seen, get a visit to your vet. Your vet may classify the worm and give you further procedures for deworming your pup.
  2. The sooner you identify and deworm your dog, the sooner your pet will feel better. Your vet may prescribe your dog broad-spectrum drugs, drugs effective for a wide range of worms and parasites.
  3. In the case of heartworms, it is better if you do regular heartworm prevention as suggested by your vet. It is because deworming heartworms can be very expensive costing about 1000$ just for preliminary tests and x–rays.
  4. Keep your pooches flea-free. You can buy anti-flea powders to put on your dog’s coat. Oral drugs for preventing fleas in your dogs can be used after a vet’s prescription.
  5. Keep in check where your dog plays. Don’t let them scavenge at carcasses as they may be infested with parasites. Also keep them away from infected birds, rodents, or any other infectious animals.


Your dog can get worms by ingesting eggs, larvae of parasites while playing, grooming, or scavenging. Be sure you strictly monitor your dog’s playing time, health and follow regular vet checkups.

Thank you for reading the article.

To explore more, check out other articles that we have covered on dogs and worms. 

Has your dog ever been infested with worms? What measures did you take to remove the worms? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *