Hills Veterinary Clinic man and dog

Intestinal Worms in Dogs

These parasites are worms that live in the intestines of puppies, kittens, dogs and cats and include roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms and hook worms.

How can my pet pick-up worms?

There are many ways your pet can pick these up.

Some worms are passed to puppies and kittens from their mother and so all puppies and kittens should be wormed regularly. Pets can also pick up intestinal worms by eating infected wild animals (rodents), fleas or from eggs shed by other pets.

How will I know if my pet has worms?

Puppies and kittens suffering from intestinal worms may show symptoms including a rough hair coat, weight loss, low energy levels or a distended stomach. The severity of symptoms will depend on overall pet health and the amount of infection.

What will happen if I don't treat my pet?

Left untreated, intestinal worms lay eggs that are shed into the environment in your pet’s stool. These eggs are a potential health risk for you and your family. Toxacara canis (round worm) is zoonotic (affects people) and can cause an eye infection in children under 7 years of age that can lead to blindness in the affected eye. About 10 children per year are affected with this disease in Australia per year.

Eggs need to be in the environment for 2 weeks to be infectious. Regular cleaning of the yard and regular worming or faecal testing will decrease the risk to children to almost zero.

intenstinal worm cat2

Tapeworms are long flat worms which are sometimes seen whole in your pets faeces or more commonly as little ‘grains of rice’ around their bottoms. These are the tapeworm segments.

Roundworms look like spaghetti and can be seen in faeces or vomit.

Not all pets with worm infestations show obvious signs or pass worms in their faeces so all pets should be tested or wormed regularly.

What can I do to protect my pet from worms?

As part of looking after you & your pets health it is important that we ensure that your pet is not carrying intestinal parasites. Instead of the old recommendation of worming every 3 months, without knowing if it is necessary or effective we now recommend regular faecal tests to check your pet for parasites.

To do this you will need to collect a kit from reception, collect a small amount of fresh faeces and drop it at the clinic. We will send the sample to the lab and ring you with the results and any treatment recommendations.

Good hygiene practices such as washing hands and regular removal of faeces from the environment reduces human exposure, and when combined with regular parasite testing, provides effective household worm control.

Alternatively, you can refer to the section on anti-parasitic medications for information on which wormer would be best for your pet.