A common worry when you have a pet is keeping them healthy. A pet can simply get a cold, which takes time to recover but there is little or no permanent effect. A common problem that dogs can have is getting worms. But how does a dog get worms and what can we do to prevent our dog from getting worms? Today, we discuss worms in dogs and what we can do as owners to help our dogs stay healthy.

What are Worms

Worms are exactly what they sound like, but the worms that can get your dog sick are not quite like the kind you’d find living in the dirt.  Worms that get your dog sick are parasites. This means that they feed off your dog and reproduce while doing so. There are many kinds of worms that can infect your dog, but here are some of the most common ones.

Roundworms

A puppy can get roundworms from their mother while nursing if she is infected. Roundworms are very serious for puppies as well. They live in the intestines of dogs and feed of whatever food makes its way to them. This can lead to weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea or weakness. You may be able to see roundworms in the feces of an infected dog. They usually grow a few inches long and look like spaghetti.

Hookworms

Hookworms live in the small intestine of a dog and suck the animal’s blood for nourishment. An adult dog can become infected by grooming themselves, or even through the skin. Hookworms can also affect humans, so it is very important to take care of them if you suspect your dog is infected.

Whipworms

Whipworms are another parasite that will feed on your dog’s blood. They imbed in the intestines and can cause bloody stools.

Tapeworms

Fleas are the most common source of tapeworms in dogs. These worms stick around in the dog’s intestine and feed off any nourishment they can while there. If your dog gets infected, you may be able to see what looks like small grains of rice around your dog’s anus. Although tapeworms can infect humans, people cannot get infected from an infected dog.

Heartworms

Heartworm is a specific kind of roundworm that attacks the animal’s heart and lungs. They are transmitted by mosquito. Once a dog is bit, the eggs grow in the dog’s skin and upon hatching, the heartworms make their way into he dog’s bloodstream where they nestle in the main arteries. If not taken care of, a heartworm infection will lead to congestive heart failure.

How Does a Dog Get Worms?

If you’re asking yourself how a dog gets worms, the answer is surprisingly easily. Some common ways for your dog to catch worms are:
  • Catching or consuming fleas
  • Catching mice or snails
  • Eating the feces of other animals
You should have your dog avoid behavior that will allow these critters access to your pet. This may be a difficult task to complete though. Some dogs just can’t help themselves. Many dogs from the sporting group will instinctually give chase, so it will be your job to make sure they don’t get into too much trouble. You’ll also want to be careful when you take your dog outdoors. Fleas are a common pest for many animals, and your dog can easily catch them. If you live near wooded areas, you should be extra careful and take precautions to stop your dog from bring fleas around. While a dog’s chasing behavior can be easily curbed with leash work, you’ll also have to make sure they are in a clean environment as well. If your dog is around other animals often, be sure they only play in clean areas to help prevent any kind of contamination. If your dog is around other animals’ feces, they can be at risk.

How to Get Rid of Worms

If you’ve discovered that your dog has got worms, the bad news is that there are not effective treatments available over-the-counter. Your first step if you suspect your dog has worms would be to visit your vet. They will want to take a fecal sample to check for any intestinal worms. They may also take a blood sample to check for heartworms. If the tests show that your dog is infected, they’ll be prescribed a deworming medication that will get them feeling better in no time.

Can You Get Worms from Your Dog?

Most parasites are species-specific. This means that they only seek and are effective against one type of species. This means that if your dog gets worms, you’re going to be safe, though you might get a little grossed out. That said, if there is the threat of worms in your home, it can affect you. If your immune system is being constantly bombarded by worm attacks, it can slow you down. Best to clear any worm infections out for good.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Getting Worms

The first step to preventing worms is to ensure your dog doesn’t already have them. If you have gotten over an infestation, be sure to check your dog to make sure they are all gone for good. Many vets also recommend a yearly check to make sure your dog stays free and clear. A flea collar might be a good investment as well. Fleas and other pests spread many other critters that you’ll want to stay away from your dog. A flea collar or coat treatment can help set up a protective barrier around your dog. Make sure your yard is clear and clean. If you allow feces to pile up in your yard, you can start attracting other pests. This can also give bugs and pests a nice place to hide. So, make sure you’re cleaning up your yard promptly after it’s used by your pet. Following these tips can go a long way in keeping your dog worm free.

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