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Intestinal Worms & Parasites in Dogs

Be Aware of the Signs and Dangers! 

No one said intestinal parasites are fun. But, as a dog owner, it’s important to know about the different types of worms and the effects they have on a dog’s health. And since people can become infected with roundworms and hookworms, it’s that much more important to keep your dog parasite-free. The following information offers some basic facts about the more common parasites. Heartworms too are parasites.

Heartworm treatment

ROUNDWORMS (Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonina) are the most common type of worm to infect the animal kingdom. These worms are usually 2 – 4 inches long, tan or white “spaghetti-like” creatures with tapered ends. If a roundworm burden is heavy, a dog may vomit these worms or pass them (whole) in the stool. Roundworms can cause vomiting and diarrhea and can have an effect on a dog’s overall general health and appearance. Puppies infected with roundworms will have a “potbellied” (bloated) look to them. While roundworms are most common in puppies and kittens, they are found in pets of all ages. Roundworms can become so numerous that they can cause an intestinal blockage and stool cannot pass. As mentioned above, roundworms are zoonotic (can be transferred to humans) and can cause an infection known as “Visceral Larva Migrans”, which may result in possible inflammation of muscle tissue and blindness. Anthelmintics (dewormers) that are frequently used to treat roundworms are pyrantel pamoate, fenbendazole and piperazine.

HOOKWORMS (Ancylostoma caninium) are blood-sucking intestinal parasites and have the ability to cause anemia (and sometimes death) in puppies and adult dogs. Hookworms cannot be seen by the naked eye, and the severity of adverse effects will depend on the amount of worms in the intestine, the animal’s overall health and age. In humans, hookworms can cause “Cutaneous Larva Migrans”, commonly called “creeping eruption”. The hookworm larvae will burrow into the skin of a human’s foot or leg causing a linear, red lesion, which is intensely itchy. This parasite has also been known to cause chronic intestinal bleeding, abdominal pain and diarrhea in small children. Deworming medications usually include pyrantel pamoate and fenbendazole.

Does Your Dog Have Hookworms?

What Are the Symptoms?


Weakness is one of the signs that a dog is infected by hookworm.

Hookworms are parasites that get their name from the hook-like mouthparts they use to attach to the intestinal wall. They are only about 1/8" (3 mm) long and so small that it is very difficult to see them with the naked eye. Despite their small size, they ingest large amounts of blood from the tiny vessels in the intestinal wall. A large number of hookworms can cause significant blood loss (anemia). This problem is most common in puppies, but can occur in adult dogs.

Dogs may become infected with hookworms by four routes

1) Orally
2) Through the skin
3) Through the mother's placenta before birth
4) Through the mother's milk.

The most significant problems appear related to intestinal distress and anemia. Blood loss results from the parasites ingesting blood from intestinal capillaries. Pale gums, diarrhea, or weakness are common signs of anemia. Some dogs experience significant weight loss, bloody diarrhea, or failure to grow properly with hookworm infection.

Skin irritation and itching, especially of the paws, can be signs of a heavily infested environment. The larvae burrow into the skin and cause itching and discomfort. You will note your dog may constantly lick and chew his paws.

Hookworms are diagnosed with a microscopic examination of a stool sample. Since there are many eggs produced daily, they are easily detected. One adult female hookworm may produce as many as 20,000 eggs a day!

There are several effective drugs to eliminate hookworms. They are given by injection or orally and have few, if any, side-effects.

However, these drugs only kill the adult hookworms. Therefore, it is necessary to treat again in about 2-4 weeks to kill any newly formed adult worms that were larvae at the time of the first treatment.

Adult hookworms do not infect humans; however, the larvae can burrow into human skin. This causes itching, commonly called "ground itch", but the worms do not mature into adults. Direct contact of human skin to moist, hookworm infested soil is required. Fortunately, this does not occur often if normal hygiene practices are observed. In rare instances, the canine hookworm will penetrate into deeper tissues and partially mature in the human intestine.

TAPEWORMS (Dipylidium caninum) are the other parasites that can be seen by the dog owner. Actually, what the dog owner with observe is tapeworm segments that have broken off from the adult parasite attached to the lining of the dog’s intestinal tract. These tapeworm pieces are - inch in length, are usually white and are usually seen (while still alive) contracting and expanding around the dog’s rectum or on a dog’s stool immediately after elimination.

Once these segments die, they will appear like a grain of uncooked wild rice or a sesame seed and are often found in the dog’s bedding. The most common route of infection occurs when the dog swallows a flea that is carrying the parasite’s eggs. Tapeworms cannot be directly transmitted from dogs to humans but small children could accidentally ingest flea larvae or pupae on the floor containing an immature tapeworm and get a tapeworm infection.

Pumpkin seeds work great for eliminating tapeworms. Use raw, unsalted green pumpkin seeds, grind them in a blender, and add them to your dog's food. Dogs infested with tapeworms tend to drag their rear end along the ground as if trying to find relief from irritation. Not to be confused with anal gland problem.

WHIPWORM (Trichuris vulpis) is one of the less notable parasites and it cannot be seen by the dog owner. Unfortunately, this particular parasite is the most difficult to eradicate and control. The symptoms may include severe diarrhea, flatulence and loss of weight. The anthelmintic (expelling or destroying parasitic worms especially of the intestine) for whipworm most commonly prescribed is fenbendazole (Panacur).

COCCIDIA (Isopora canis) is not a worm, but a single cell microscopic organism that will cause “havoc” in a dog’s intestinal tract when present in great numbers. Coccidia come from fecal-contaminated ground. They are swallowed when a pet grooms or licks the dirt off itself. In some cases, sporulated oocysts are swallowed by mice and the host is infected when it eats the mouse. Coccidia infection is especially common in young animals housed in groups (as in shelters, rescue areas, kennels, etc.) This is a common parasite and is not necessarily a sign of poor husbandry.

It is important to have a fecal sample done yearly to check for parasites. Many people opt to skip these tests to save money thinking they are not that important. However, if done yearly and the right meds are prescribed, you will keep your pet healthy. This protozoa will cause watery diarrhea in young and susceptible animals that have immature or compromised immune systems; in some cases, the diarrhea can be severe enough to be life threatening. Sometimes a dog having coccidia will bleed from it's rectum. Eradication of this parasite is usually successful with a daily dose of a sulfonamide antimicrobial agent. Info taken from: 

GIARDIA  is a tiny parasite which can cause true diarrhea and flatulence. Dogs will lose weight, become dehydrated and even pass blood. Simple routine fecal flotation of a pet's stool in an animal hospital setting often will fail to reveal these tiny, nearly translucent parasites. Many veterinarians will send stool samples to a professional veterinary lab with a "heads up" regarding using special stains for Giardia.

Clinical signs range from none in asymptomatic carriers, to mild recurring diarrhea consisting of soft, light-colored stools, to acute explosive diarrhea in severe cases. Other signs associated with giardiasis are weight loss, listlessness, mucus in the stool, and poor appetite. These signs are also associated with other diseases of the intestinal tract, and are not specific to giardiasis; therefore positive identification of these organisms is an important aspect of a thorough patient work up.

Diagnosis is confirmed by finding the cysts or motile stages in feces. A negative report does not rule out Giardia! Because cysts are only passed periodically, several fecal examinations may be necessary to diagnose this parasite. At least three fecal samples, examined over a period of seven to ten days, should be examined. Special stains can be used, too, to assist in identifying these microscopic invaders.  

Treatment for Giardia

There are two antiprotozoal drugs commonly recommended, to treat Giardia; metronidazole and quinacrine. Contact your veterinarian for the one best suited for your dog. All infected animals should be treated whether or not they show clinical signs.

Giardia can be contracted from water sources such as streams of water or other watering places your dog has access to. It may not always be associated with the food given him or the grass he eats. Information taken from: http://www.thepetcenter.com/exa/gia.html

Wormy Dogs? Understand Dog Worms Infestation and Their Symptoms

 by Moses Chia

Until a very recent period, dog worms were thought to be of a spontaneous origin, brought about by the influence of heat upon decaying vegetable matter, and it was and still is freely asserted that puppies are born with dog worms inherited from the mother in some mysterious manner while still in uterus. This has been conclusively proven an error and in the minds of all scientists there is no question about dog worms springing from individual eggs and having a complete life history of their own.

The principal worm species with which dog owners have to contend are round worms and tape worms. The first named commonly infest puppies and consequently are most dreaded by breeders. In shape and size these worms resemble common angle worms, but in color are lighter, being almost white or only a pale pink.

In adult dogs these worms, when full grown, are from three to seven inches long. In puppies they are about half that length, and as thick as common white string. Round worms live in the small intestines, sometimes coiled in such masses as to obstruct the passage, and occasionally they wander into the stomach or are passed by the bowels.

It is easy to understand that when one dog in a kennel is infected with worms, millions of eggs will be passed with the feces. These are scattered all over the floors, bedding, feeding and drinking pans. They get on the dog's coat, are licked off and swallowed and in numbers of ways gain entrance to the digestive tracts of other dogs, where they soon hatch out and in ten days are fully developed.

This rapid development account for the popular belief that puppies are born with worms, for breeders who have held post-mortems on puppies scarcely ten days old and have found in their stomachs fully developed round worms could account for their presence in no other way. They overlooked the fact that the prospective mother, confined in a kennel infested with worms, would get these eggs attached to her coat, belly and breasts, and the young, as soon as born, would take these eggs into their stomachs with the first mouthfuls of milk.

Symptoms Of Worm Attack

Dog worms are responsible for so much sickness and so many symptoms that it is practically impossible to mention all of them, but their presence can safely be suspected in all dogs which have not been recently treated for them, as well as in cases where the patient is run down, unthrifty and out of sorts. 
Other symptoms are a hot, dry nose, weak, watery eyes, pale lips and gums, foul breath, mean hacking cough and a red, scurfy, pimply or irritated condition of the skin and harsh, dry, lackluster coat that is constantly being shed.

Wormy dogs sometimes have a depraved appetite and will eat dirt and rubbish. Some days they are ravenously hungry, the next day they will not eat at all; their sleep is disturbed by dreams and intestinal rumbling, the urine is high colored and frequently passed, bowels irregular, stomach easily unsettled, watery mucus is frequently vomited and the mouth is hot, sticky and full of ropy saliva.

Puppies which are full of worms bloat easily and are pot-bellied. After feeding their stomachs distend disproportionately to the amount of food consumed. Their bodies are also subject to scaly eruptions and their bowels to colicky pains; they do not grow as rapidly as healthy puppies should and instead of playing with each other they curl up and sleep hour after hour; they get thinner, weaker and more lifeless from day to day and if they do not waste away or die in fits and convulsions with frothing at the mouth and champing of the jaws, grow up coarse-jointed, rickety and misshapen. Puppies with worms are also liable to paralysis of their rear limbs and on removal of the worms the puppies regain control of the affected parts.

A wormy dog is usually an unhealthy and unhappy dog who leads a miserable life. It could even be deadly, especially so for young puppies. Bring your dog to a veterinarian if you are unsure. Your dog will certainly thank you for that.
Easy Treatment for Worms- Easy on Your Dog's System -No Chemicals! ~ from Wolf Creek Ranch
Use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) FOOD GRADE ONLY. DE used for swimming pools is NOT to be used for people or pets. Make certain it says FOOD GRADE on package. This is what we use for our pets and ourselves~ Mel, K911

DE use from Wolfcreek Ranch

As for traditional wormers....more and more, we are getting breeders who start worming as early as 2 and 4 weeks of age. They worm every 2 weeks and rotate their wormers using Safeguard, Ivomec, Pyrantel, Panacur, Nemex...and many puppies then come down with parvo. Many of these puppies wormed at 2, 4, 6, & 8 weeks of age who are now 8 or 9 weeks old and now have parvo, STILL have worm infestations. We believe this is because the worms are developing immunity to the chemical wormers, just as bacteria are becoming resistant to traditional antibiotics. And again, most of these breeders aren't even using the same wormer each time they worm, but using different ones to help prevent the worms from developing immunity.

Realize, that with our parvo puppy cases and the breeders who are adamant that their puppies have no worms...when based on the sick puppies symptoms, I tell them the puppy has worms, it is impossible to talk the breeder into using food grade diatomaceous earth as they KNOW they wormed their puppies with the chemical wormers and believe the puppies have NO worms. Worms can prevent recovery from parvo. It is not until the breeder actually sees a worm(s) in feces or vomit (some worms you can't even see with the naked eye), that they start to listen, but often this is after they've lost one, two, or more puppies. Worms can kill puppies and cause symptoms very similar to parvo or coccidia.

Realize too, once a vet diagnoses parvo, they no longer test the puppy for anything else. If we were to assume that the fecal tests would show the worms, this would make it easier to deal with the worm loads by knowing it is an issue that needs addressing.

Also, note, frequently, puppies with parvo that are wormed with chemical wormers die quickly after being given the chemical wormer. Again, this is why we recommend the food grade diatomaceous earth, as we have used it when dealing with wormy parvo puppies and our customers have done so with excellent success.

The DE will not harm the inflamed intestinal mucosa of parvo puppies.

Parvo puppies who have worm infestations and aren't having the normal parvo puppy 5 to 6 bowel movements/day (which 9 times out of 10, if they haven't had a bowel movement for 8 hours, they have worm infestations that can prevent their recovery), we syringe Diatomaceous Earth (DE), mixed with water down their throats, along with the same amount mixed with water via enema to eliminate parasites in the bowel. This helps eliminate the worms without poisoning the puppy (which traditional wormers can do) and helps loosen the worm blockage in the bowel allowing them to have a bowel movement within a few hours.

Don't be surprised if you see a bunch of worms in the stool after doing this. The food grade diatomaceous earth works great and doesn't kill the animal and helps hasten their recovery. (When using a syringe to give the puppies or dogs DE mixed with water, be sure to gently squirt the liquid into the cheek of the puppy, not directly down the throat. Squirting it down the throat will cause it to gag and also the liquid could aspirate into the puppy's lungs. ~Mel, K911)

When recent traditional worming methods cause disease, chemical (aka poison) wormers must be detoxed from the system as the flood of dying parasites emit toxins, such as viruses, bacteria, ammonia, plus the poison in the wormer can harm and even kill animal, especially those with inflamed intestinal tracts such as parvo puppies.

Puppies are born with roundworms and hookworms, regardless of how free of worms their mother may have been, eggs hatch in the puppies at birth. Tapeworms are contracted if the puppy comes in contact with fleas or rodents.

But My Pet Tested Negative For Worms!
I am not sure which is worse - chemical wormers that aren't effective or the fact that fecal tests that indicate whether or not people or animals have worms are only 20 to 25% accurate!

As advanced as our medical profession appears to be or tries to tell us they are, WHY on earth can they not tell us with at least 80% accuracy whether or not someone has worms?

Anyways, I gave up on traditional medicine over 10 years ago. I had picked up steamy fresh stools from 4 new rescues early one morning, drove them less than 10 minutes away to my mobile vet who immediately put the samples in her refrigerator. One of the stools belonged to a young wolf rescue who came here scooting her rear end across the ground and another one actually had worms I could see in the stool sample I brought her.

The following day, she called me to advise ALL four fecals were negative for worms! I found it outrageous that I paid $100 for those samples and I KNEW two of the wolf rescues HAD worms, yet the test results came up negative.

The vet made up 60cc's of a liquid concoction of stuff that I was supposed to get down the throats of new wolf rescues who didn't even know me yet?? HAHAHA! Best yet, I needed to do this without getting bit or killed. The vet guessed at what worms they had...anyways, the situation failed miserably, though I got at least 40 cc's of this stuff into the scooting wolf rescue, but she continued to scoot anyways.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind spending money, but when I spend it, I want "real" answers or results. That shouldn't be so hard, should it?

Thus, my non-toxic natural solution has been to simply feed food grade diatomaceous earth, 365 days/year to myself and my 100 animal guardians here. I started that just over 9 years ago and Lady Nikko no longer scoots across her concrete floor! PLUS, I don't have to "stuff" it down her throat, I just put it in her food, like everyone else, and she eats it just fine.

And it has always worked fabulously for incoming rescue kittens or puppies/dogs that have diarrhea, some with bloated bellies. Within 48 hours of daily DE consumption, stools are much firmer and pot bellies are eliminated.

For puppies and kittens who are eating on their own, it is really easy to feed them food grade diatomaceous earth by mixing the DE in a small amount of raw goats milk (or whatever milk you prefer), yogurt, or cottage cheese.
Just remember, DE has to come in contact with the worm/parasite/bug to kill it within 24 to 72 hours. Once you start worming with DE, do NOT stop the daily DE for at least 3 weeks.

If you start one day and forget for 3 days, the infestation and dead dying worms which emit bacteria, toxins, ammonia, etc. can cause toxic overload, which can make animals or people sicker.

Anyways, you can feed too little, but you can't feed too much DE. Of course, no one is going to feed a 50# bag to a canine, horse, or kitten in one day - okay, so there might be someone out there that would try it.

Personally, if I know I'm dealing with an infestation in a new rescue, I always feed more than the recommended dose, because I don't want to have to deal with the dis-ease worm loads can cause, nor the diarrhea, etc.

A study done by ACRES, USA, Inc. advised that after 12 months of storage, the food grade diatomaceous earth treated material had 15 insects, compared to 4884 for malathion and 16,994 for untreated grain.

Our Cautions:
Do NOT get DE in the eyes. DE is a drying agent and will dry out the eyes. IF you have asthma or some other lung ailment, either wear a mask or be very careful when using food grade diatomaceous earth. Do NOT use heavily in carpet. Some advise too much DE causes vacuum problems.

Google - FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth

How We Feed Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth to Sick Pets Or Those With Worm Infestations
Thankfully, natural DE is not a "poison", but a natural method of eliminating parasites by dehydrating them. Since parasites are a major cause of disease in everyone - human, plants, and animals, as well as the other great benefits of feeding natural DE, we immediately feed DE to all rescues or client animals (infested or not, as most often they have parasite issues and the DE will help strengthen their immune systems, get them healthier more quickly, detox heavy metals, provide 15 minerals, and eliminate any worms they may have).

DE feeding protocol for worm infestations
The recommended feeding rates on my website are what the manufacturer recommends.

Puppies - 1 to 2 teaspoons once or twice/day
Dogs 20 to 50 lbs. - 1 to 1.5 tablespoons
Dogs 50+ lbs. - 2 tablespoons
Dogs 100+ lbs. - 3 to 4 tablespoons
Kittens - 1 teaspoon twice daily in food
Cats - 2 teaspoons twice/day