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Types of Intestinal Worms in Dogs: Identifying and Treating Common Infestations

Intestinal worms in dogs are a common concern for pet owners, impacting the health and well-being of our canine companions. Recognizing the types of intestinal worms, understanding their symptoms, and being familiar with prevention and treatment methods is crucial for responsible pet ownership. Continue reading to explore the various types of intestinal worms in dogs and gain valuable insights into recognizing, preventing, and treating these common infestations.

Intestinal Worms Types in Dogs

Roundworms in Dogs

Roundworms, including Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina, are prevalent in dogs. These long, spaghetti-like parasites absorb nutrients via the gut of the infected dog. Toxocara canis larvae exhibit a unique ability to migrate through various bodily tissues and organs, while Toxascaris leonina follows a simpler lifecycle, primarily affecting the intestinal tract.

Hookworms in Dogs

Characterized by their short length and blood-sucking nature, hookworms can be fatal, especially in young puppies. The lifecycle involves infection via ingestion, wherein the ingested hookworms get lodged in the small intestine where they mature into adults. Alternatively infection can also take place through skin penetration. Here they travel to the lungs via the blood, enter into the trachea, get swallowed and reach the intestine.

Whipworms in Dogs

Found in the large intestine, whipworms can cause severe irritation to the intestinal wall, often resulting in bloody diarrhoea and weight loss.

Tapeworms in Dogs

Residing in the small intestine, tapeworms utilize tiny rows of teeth to absorb nutrients.These long and flat parasites comprise of a string of segments. These segments are shed individually via the faeces, with each of them laden with tapeworm eggs. These segments resemble grains of rice and may be seen in the pet’s faeces, the pet’s bedding and around the infected pet’s anus. . Transmission occurs through the ingestion of infected fleas.

How Dogs Contract Intestinal Worms

From Their Mother

Puppies can acquire roundworms and hookworms from their mother, either in utero or through nursing. Regular veterinary advice on worming puppies is crucial.

Ingesting Contaminated Soil

Dogs can pick up roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms by grooming themselves and consuming contaminated dirt in their fur. Owners must clean up after their pets to prevent infections.

Walking on Contaminated Soil

Hookworms can be contracted through skin contact with infected soil, affecting the paws or belly.

Eating Other Infected Animals

Dogs may contract various worms by consuming infected animals, such as rodents or scavenging off carcasses. Raw  meats can also pose a risk.


Tapeworms can be transmitted through the ingestion of fleas carrying tapeworm eggs.

Symptoms of Intestinal Worms in Dogs

Common symptoms include diarrhea (at times with the presence of blood), vomiting, a swollen abdomen, lethargy, nutritional deficiencies,  and irritated, itchy skin.

Can Humans Catch Worms from Dogs?

Humans can potentially catch roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms from dogs, though it is unusual. Regular dog worming and good hygiene practices, such as washing hands after handling pets, can reduce the risk of transmission.

Roundworms are the most common parasite passed from dogs to humans, and cases are more prevalent among children. Both types of the worm have the potential to infect humans, causing a condition known as toxocariasis. Although the majority of cases are asymptomatic, with the parasites perishing within a few months, some individuals may encounter mild symptoms such as a cough, fever, headaches, or stomach cramps. In very rare cases, the roundworm larvae can infect organs such as the liver, lungs, eyes, or brain and cause much more severe symptoms.

Can Dog Worms Infect Cats in the Household?

Cats can only be infected by one type of roundworm, toxascaris leonina, and it is the less common of the two. Moreover, dogs and cats can transmit hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms between each other.

Treatment for Intestinal Worms in Dogs

Consulting a vet for the best treatment is essential. Deworming medications are available in various forms, including injections, tablets, and spot-on treatments. Regular deworming is crucial, especially for puppies, and repeat treatments may be necessary for complete eradication.

A single treatment often will not completely get rid of all worms in your pet’s body. For instances involving Toxocara canis roundworms and hookworms, new larvae can re-enter the intestine post-deworming, necessitating additional treatments to fully address the infection. You often will not see dead worms in the stool (they can be completely broken down!).

Dogs can also become infected with worms that live in the heart or lungs, requiring different medication as per your vet’s recommendation.

How Often Should I Deworm My Dog?

Puppies need monthly deworming until six months old, and adult dogs should be wormed at least four times a year. Dogs that spend the majority of their time outdoors and indulge in hunting or scavenging behaviour, would require more frequent deworming – once in every 1 to 2 months. Females require deworming during pregnancy and nursing, with a pregnancy & lactation safe formulation. Consult your vet for personalized advice based on your dog's needs and household circumstances. It is also important to always clean up after your dog and dispose of faeces hygienically 


Being aware of the types of intestinal worms in dogs, their symptoms, and prevention measures is important for responsible pet care. Regular veterinary check-ups, proper hygiene practices, and timely administration  of deworming medication for dogs contribute to the overall well-being of our beloved canine companions. By staying informed and proactive, pet owners can ensure a healthy and happy life for their dogs, free from the challenges posed by intestinal worm infestations.