Worms In Dogs: Need-To-Know Information

Is your beloved pet affected by worms in dogs? Read on to discover the symptoms, cures, causes and more.

A worm is a type of parasite that can infect dogs. Worms survive by leeching off of their host for nutrition, and while some may seem benevolent at first, a dog infected with worms is likely to begin experiencing negative symptoms and discomfort either right away, or as the infection progresses. Some parasite infections, for example, heartworm infection, can become life-threatening if left untreated.


There are several different types of worm which can infect dogs:

  • Heartworm
  • Hookworm
  • Lungworm
  • Roundworm
  • Tapeworm
  • Whipworm

Please note that ringworm is not a parasite, it is a fungus, which is why it is not included on this page. Usually a dog will become infected by worms in dogs by eating contaminated stools, soil or uncooked meat. A dog may also become infected with worms following a mosquito or flea bite.

Symptoms of worms in dogs

Each type of worm will lead to different symptoms. But there are some more common signs which you can look out for such as:

  • Coughing
  • Vomiting/Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Pot belly
  • Change in appetite
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Loss of coat or dulling of the coat
  • Itching and scooting
  • Worms in stools

If your dog has multiple symptoms, it’s important to seek veterinary attention. If you see worms in your dog’s stool, or what appears to be rice grains, your dog will need to visit the vet. Symptoms of heartworm are often mild at first, and often go unnoticed, but coughing may develop in advanced stages.


Because signs of worm infections are often present in stools, your vet will usually take a stool sample for analysis. When diagnosing parasites which are more difficult to detect, e.g. heartworm, you vet is likely to use the modified Knott’s technique alongside a direct blood smear test.

Lungworm is even harder to diagnose, whereby even a lack of signs in the trachea or stool does not necessarily mean a lack of infection. For this reason, your vet will likely base the diagnosis off of your pet’s medical history, symptoms and how well he or she responds to treatment.


Your dog will be put on a deworming medication. The medication used will depend on the type of worm your dog has become infected with. The most common medicines used includes Heartgard for dogs (ivermectin) and Panacur for dogs. You will need to finish the entire course of medication for successful treatment.


The best way to protect your pet from worms is to treat him with a once-a-month preventative medication such as Sentinel for dogs.

It is also important that during treatment you clean any areas where your dog has defecated with bleach, and thoroughly clean any areas where he or she has been kept. This helps prevent re-infection, or infection to yourself, as many worms are able to infect people too.

Sentinel for dogs: once a month parasite preventation
Generic information about parasitic worms