Pet Care Pro Show, Pet Health Tips

Worms in Dogs and Cats

To watch Dr. Greer’s 2023 Intestinal Parasites in Dogs Webinar, click here!

Have you noticed your puppy with a bloated belly or grain-like rice in your dog’s feces? Is your cat experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, or has a rough hair coat? If this sounds familiar, your pet could be dealing with roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. In this episode of the Pet Care Pro Show, Cynthia and Shelley will be answering some of the top questions we receive regarding intestinal parasites in cats and dogs.
Intestinal Parasite in Dogs and Cats

Types of Dog Worms

Unfortunately, intestinal parasites, or worms, have been around forever, so they won’t be going away anytime soon. That is why managing them is the key. Remember, parasites don’t want to kill your pets, they just want to use them as a dinner plate. So your job is to manage parasites with the correct dewormer at the right time. Not all worms respond the same way to every dewormer. You need to determine what type of worm you are dealing with. The four most common internal parasites in dogs are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.

Roundworms are two to seven inches long and look like spaghetti. If puppies or kittens are vomiting parasites, it is most likely roundworms.

Hookworms are only about a half-inch long and are difficult to see without a microscope. Coughing isn’t something you may immediately associate with parasites, but both roundworms and hookworms can play a role in the eight-week-old puppy cough.

Other symptoms of hookworms include vomiting, diarrhea, stunted growth in young animals, a dull or dry coat, loss of weight, lack of appetite, loss of color in the gums and lips, and occasionally dark, tarry stools. And hookworms can eventually lead to anemia, because hookworms are feeding on the animal’s blood and leaving bleeding sores with their teeth or cutting plates,
the animal can rapidly develop anemia, which causes weakness and shortness of breath.

Whipworms are thin worms that live in the large intestine and are usually one to about 3 inches long. They receive their name from the worm’s shape, which has a thinner front end and wider stout tail, making it resemble a whip. Symptoms of whipworms include a chronic loose stool often containing mucus and blood flecks. Heavier whipworm infestations may cause weight loss, anorexia, and diarrhea.

The most accurate way to diagnose whipworms and hookworms, is under a microscope. Vet’s will diagnose whipworms and hookworms by looking under a microscope for eggs in the dog or cat’s feces. Whipworms are frequently difficult to diagnose. Their eggs are only shed intermittently in the stool and there is not yet a test to detect the parasite’s protein.

If your dog has fleas or you see little, flat white “grains” of rice in your dog’s droppings, there’s a good chance your dog has tapeworms. Pets can’t get tapeworms directly from other dogs or cats. Tapeworms live in the large intestine and are transferred to your pet most often through an intermediary host. This means tapeworms can get transferred if the animal eats a mouse, bird or a flea infected with tapeworms. There are actually two different commonly detected types of tapeworms. One comes from rodents and rabbits and then the other type comes from the flea.

Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms are just four of the many types of intestinal worms out there, but they are the most common. Roundworms and hookworms both live in the small intestine and are by far the most common intestinal worms found in puppies and kittens. And while tapeworms in humans are rare, both roundworms and hookworms can infect humans, so you want to make sure these are gone before sending a puppy or kitten to a new home.

Should I Be Worried if My Dog Has Worms?

If you aren’t sure but suspect your pet has worms, take them to your vet right away because left untreated, no matter what kind of parasite it is, it can really make your pet sick. Your vet will probably want to have a fresh stool sample if available. If worms aren’t treated; remember your pet can experience weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rough hair coat.

Deworming on a regular basis is important, but take note that cat and dog dewormers often have different active ingredients, so they don’t all work the same. It’s important to know what each active ingredient does.

If you need help figuring out how often your pet needs to be dewormed or if your dog has worms but you aren’t sure what dewormer to use, give us a call at 800.786.4751 and we are happy to help.

Shelley Hexom

Written by: Shelley Hexom

Content Manager

Shelley Hexom is Revival's Content Manager and helps develop educational pet health resources. A three-time Emmy® Award-winning news anchor, Shelley works with Revival's Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, to help create useful and easy-to-understand articles, videos, and webinars. Shelley received her bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from Winona State University in 2002. As a pet owner, Shelley enjoys time with her Boxer mix, Sally. Shelley has been part of the Revival Paw Squad since 2016.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.