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Intestinal Worms in Dogs: Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms

 by jaime on 25 Jun 2014 |
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Intestinal worm infestations are among the most common health problems in dogs, and one that every dog owner needs to be on the lookout for. If you have just purchased or adopted a new puppy, the breeder or shelter should have wormed the animal. Even so, some parasites can linger in the intestinal tract, and new pet parents need to be vigilant to protect the health of their new family members.
One of the best ways to protect your dog from intestinal worms is to have regular checkups with your veterinarian. Your vet can detect the presence of intestinal worms and provide effective treatment if they are discovered. Your vet may ask for a stool sample when you go for your regular exam; that sample is used to find and identify intestinal parasites and recommend effective treatments.
In between regular veterinary checkups, you can protect your dog by watching out for early signs and symptoms of intestinal worms and other parasites. Some of the signs of an intestinal worm infestation are quite obvious, while others are subtle and easy to miss. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, your next call should be to your veterinarian.
  • Coughing - Many dog owners do not realize that coughing can be a sign of intestinal worms. They may put the cough down to a simple cold or upper respiratory tract infection, but any cough is cause for concern. Coughing can be a sign of intestinal worms, but it is also a classic symptom of heartworm, which can be life threatening.
  • Lethargy - Intestinal worms will sap the energy from your dog and interfere with its nutrition. As a result, the dog will often be lethargic and apathetic. If you notice lethargy or lack of energy in your dog, you should contact your vet right away.
  • Vomiting - Stomach upset is a classic symptom of intestinal worms, and it should be taken seriously. In some cases the dog owner may be able to detect small roundworms in the vomit. In other cases there will be no worms present, but it is still important to have the dog checked out by a vet.
  • Diarrhea - Diarrhea and soft stools are often present in dogs with an intestinal worm infestation. If your dog is infested with hookworms, you may also notice blood in the stool.
  • Loss of Weight - When your dog has intestinal worms, those parasites are stealing the food and the energy it provides. As a result, your dog may lose weight even though it is eating more than ever.
  • Bloated Appearance - A pot belly or bloated appearance is one of the main symptoms of intestinal worms. This is most apparent in puppies, but it can appear in adult dogs as well.
  • Scooting - Intestinal worms are uncomfortable for your dog, and it may show that discomfort by rubbing its bottom or scooting across the rug. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your vet.
  • Dull Fur - If you notice that your dog's once lustrous fur is now dull and shaggy, intestinal worms could be to blame.


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