worms in dogs

Worms in Dogs: Why Regularly Worming Your Pet Is Part of Responsible Pet Ownership

Protecting Pets and Humans From Worms in Dogs

When we talk about worms in dogs we are using a term to describe several internal parasitic infections that our pets are prone to. Worms in dogs can be treated with preparations bought from the pet shop or the vet’s and this should be done regularly. Worming a dog is a very important part of responsible pet ownership.

There are two types of infections of worms in dogs which are common in the UK. They are known as roundworms and tapeworms. Unfortunately, roundworms are very hard to avoid as many puppies are infected at birth. This underlines the importance of worming our dogs regularly, especially during puppyhood.

Whilst roundworms will not show symptoms in some dogs, they can have much more serious consequences than other worms in dogs. Adult roundworms live in the dog’s intestine and eats the contents. This effectively means that the roundworms eat your dog’s food! In severe cases, there can be several roundworms inside one dog. This is why in severe cases of infection, dogs will appear malnourished, tired and have a dull coat.

Roundworms can remain dormant in cysts inside the muscles of adult dogs. They then reawaken later on, often at times of stress. It is very common for them to be awoken by pregnancy, prompting them to migrate around the body and infect the unborn puppies. Treating the pregnant dog for worms will not rid the puppies of their infestation. This is why worms in dogs are such a big problem to new born puppies.

Adult worms release eggs which are passed with the dog’s faeces, contaminating soil. Then toehr dogs pick up the eggs from the soil. However, the most common roundworm in the UK, the Toxocara Canis can also infect children when they touch contaminated soil or sand pits. Worm larvae can migrate around the child’s body and will cause irreparable eye damage is they reach the retina. Regular treatment for worms in dogs is therefore vital for responsible dog ownership.

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Worms in Dogs: Protect the Whole Family

In the UK, worms in dogs are a common issue. They can lead to ill health and distress in our pets and can re-infest them at any time. Across the entire world there are many types of parasites which are grouped under the term ‘worms in dogs’ but in the UK we deal primarily with just two. These are the tapeworm and the roundworm.

Roundworms cause difficulties when they are passed from one dog to another and more so when most puppies are born with an infestation. This type of worm resembles short lengths of spaghetti. Fully mature worms live in the dog’s intestines and feed off its contents. This means that the partially digested food is eaten by the worms, forcing your dog to share its dinner. The amount of worms present depends on whether the infestation is very severe or not, but it is possible that dozens of worms could be present at any one time. Obviously when a dog is sharing its food with dozens of parasites it is not uncommon for it to become undernourished. Severe infestations can lead to loss of energy and a dull coat. Other symptoms include diarrhoea and vomiting. In puppies, roundworms may cause a distended abdomen and delayed growth. Untreated roundworm infestations could actually kill a puppy by blocking their intestines. However, do remember that worms in dogs do not always cause the appearance of symptoms. Regular worming treatment should still be used.

In adult dogs, some worm larvae can migrate around the body, settling in muscles and forming cysts. In this form, even worming treatment cannot remove the larvae. The larvae has the ability to lie dormant in the adult dog’s body until a time of stress reactivates them. They normally become active during pregnancy and infest unborn puppies by migrating to the womb. This means it is very important to worm all puppies.

Worms in dogs can actually cause problems for people as well. Children are especially at risk because they are more likely to come into contact with worm eggs in soil whilst playing. Worm larvae can migrate through the child’s body and have been known to cause lasting eye damage if settling near the back of the eye. Regular worms in dogs treatment therefore protects the whole family and not just our pets.

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The Dangers of Worms in Dogs: Roundworms

The most frequently seen type of worms in dogs in the UK is the roundworm. This is due to the life cycle which is virtually impossible to break. Their life cycle virtually guarantees that puppies are either born with an infestation or will get one almost immediately after birth. The prevalence of this type of worms in dogs coupled with the fact that an infestation can cause serious harm to human health mean that treatment is an absolute must.

Puppies either pick up roundworms in the womb or through their mother’s milk once they are born. Also, dogs can pick up this sort of worms from contaminated faeces. The larvae of this type of worms in dogs is capable of migrating around the body, through the internal organs, being coughed up and swallowed and making a home in the intestines where it goes on to mature. The mature worms will then feed on the part digested contents of the intestines, later releasing further eggs, passed with the dog’s waste. Other larvae will form cysts in the dog’s tissue where they lie dormant. They become active again when the host is pregnant and infect puppies. Larvae lying dormant cannot be killed with worming treatment. This makes it very hard indeed to stop round worms in dogs.

The worst symptoms of infestation affect puppies, with sickness, diarrhoea and stunted growth being very common. Puppies will often have a distended abdomen. In sever infestations, puppies may die from intestinal blockage.

Unfortunately, regular treatment is the only way to fully eliminate infestation because there is no treatment which will kill the larvae. Also, because worm eggs remain viable in the environment for as long as two years, adult dogs aren’t free from the risk of picking up and infestation.

What is really concerning about this type of worms in dogs is its potential to harm human health as well. Worm larvae can damage human internal organs, and even lead to blindness. Even more worryingly, children are most vulnerable because they are often likely to put dirty hands in their mouths after touching contaminated soil.

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Know the Signs of Worms in Dogs

Dog owners should be familiar with the risks of worms in dogs; not only to themselves but to other people too. A type of internal parasite, worms in dogs can cause ill health in both humans and dogs.

Although worms in dogs can be damaging, there are often no outward signs of ill health until the worms are already damaging the dog’s health.  Although worms in dogs are hard to spot, the symptoms to look out for are general loss of condition, sickness and diarrhea. Roundworms and tapeworms are the two types of worms in dogs.


Roundworms can appear to be coiled in the shape of a spring, can grow to around 10cm in length and are pale white or beige colored. They might be visible in your pet’s feces or vomit. Roundworm larvae find their way into the dog’s body when they are ingested and adult worms then develop inside the dog’s body. When further eggs are later passed out of the dogs in feces, the life cycle is completed. Unfortunately, the most common type of roundworm is dogs is Toxocara Canis and it can have devastating effects on human children.If children ingest the eggs through contact with contaminated soil, the larvae can migrate through their bodies. The larvae can potentially damage children’s eyesight if they reach the eyes. This is just one of the reasons why it is so very important to clean up after your dog.


Tapeworms look like flat segments filled with moving eggs which resemble grains of rice and which you may be able to see in your dog’s feces or around his anus. Fleas carry tapeworm larvae so dogs become infected when they swallow fleas whilst grooming. Inside the dog, tapeworms can grow as long as 5m.

As with most conditions the old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ is true of worms in dogs. Therefore worming your dog every three months is important. Young puppies require worming even more regularly than that. Effective worming medication can be bought at either a pet shop or a veterinary surgery, but you should ask your vet to suggest the most appropriate one.

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