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How do Dogs Act When They Have Worms?

It is common for your dog to act lazy when he has worms. Worms could cause a reduction in activity levels or lethargy in your dog. Having worms in your dog can cause him to lose energy because they feed on blood and nutrients.

It is a common problem for pets to have worms; even healthy-looking dogs can have them. It is important to keep your dog healthy through good nutrition and supplements.

Key Takeaways

A dog with worms in stomach acts sluggishly with reduced appetite and gives up the urge to play, exercise and go out.

Dogs get different types of worms through their skin, hunting, or through fleas.

The symptoms include coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, potbelly, dull coat, itches & rashes, scoots, and visible worms. Make sure your dog receives prescribed medication to avoid worms in dogs.

Types of Worms

The five types of worms found in dogs are:

  • Hookworms
  • Roundworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Whipworms
  • Heartworms

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How do Dogs Get Worms?

  • Eggs and larvae: Worms and larvae can be found anywhere a dog pooped. It’s possible that your dog swallowed the eggs while snuffling around in the grass or dirt. Eggs from the environment can also get stuck in your dog’s fur.
  • Through their skin: Hookworm larvae can penetrate dogs’ skin and migrate to their intestines through contaminated environments.
  • Hunting: Dogs that hunt or search dead animals may become infested with worms.
  • Fleas: Dogs can get worms from fleas. Fleas can carry flea tapeworms. A flea tapeworm infestation could occur if your dog swallows an infected flea.

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Symptoms and Treatment


It is common for dogs to suffer from dry and persistent coughing due to worm infestations. The heartworm migrates into the lungs, blocking oxygenated blood flow. Cough is a major symptom of dogs with severe hookworm infections. Worms can cause serious and even fatal problems for dogs in many cases.

Treatment: Dextromethorphan with deworming medicine can help treat coughing in dogs when used properly. However, you must consult your dog’s vet if you haven’t used it before.


Vomiting may be a symptom of worms in your dog. Each type of worm causes vomiting. There may be visible worms in the vomit of dogs. Vomiting can also be caused by indigestion.

Treatment: Several drugs can treat this condition, including fenbendazole, milbemycin, moxidectin, piperazine, and pyrantel. At first, your vet will give your dog one to three doses to kill the adult worms. Make sure you discuss the problem with a vet before giving medication.


Worms can cause soft stools and diarrhea in dogs. Dogs with hookworms can have blood in their stools, dehydration, and diarrhea. Heartworm-infected dogs are especially at risk of losing blood.

Treatment: If your dog’s stool contains blood, contact your vet immediately. GI tract inflammation can be treated with anti-inflammatory treatments prescribed by your veterinarian. Deworming medications can also be given to your dog.

Low energy

Lethargic and less active dogs may have worms. In dogs, worms cause a lack of energy by stealing blood and nutrients. Blood loss caused by hookworms can kill puppies. If not treated promptly, blood loss in adult dogs can be life-threatening.

Treatment: Consult your veterinarian if your dog seems weak or low on energy. Your vet will likely prescribe medication containing all three drugs, praziquantel, febantel, and pyrantel.

Potbellied appearance

Dogs with worms may also appear bloated or potbellied. A puppy that has picked up worms from its mother usually appears potbellied. The placenta can transmit worms before or after birth. Dogs of all ages can suffer from this symptom, which causes blockages in their intestines.

Treatment: Antihelmintic (dewormer) Pyrantel pamoate is used to treat worms. It treats intestinal roundworm, hookworm, and stomach worm parasites in dogs. However, it is better to consult a vet if you don’t have experience dealing with such issues.

Change in appetite and weight loss

Infected dogs with roundworms may lose their appetites or start eating more. Parasites feed on nutrients in your dog’s stomach, causing rapid weight loss.

Treatment: The anti-nausea and anti-vomiting properties of Mirtazapine can help many dogs regain an appetite. For deworming treatment, Mirtazapine should be used with a dewormer.

Dull coat

Worms may be present if your dog’s coat becomes dull and dry. It is also possible for worms to cause rashes and baldness. Your dog may experience significant hair loss in addition to a dull coat. Worms and many other parasites can cause hair loss.

Treatment: Consult your vet for this issue. The vet will prescribe medicine based on your dog’s coat.

Itching and signs of skin irritations

Dogs with itching or skin irritation may have worm infestations. Skin irritations can cause a rash. There may even be an increase in itching in your dog.

Treatment: Consult the veterinarian for the dog’s oral medication to kill the parasitic intestinal worms and externally to prevent parasites from invading the host. Hydrocortisone cream is normally applied for a few days directly on the skin rash. Ensure your dog doesn’t lick and ingest it.


Dogs with worms will rub their bottoms on the floor to relieve the itch caused by worms. Your dog may bite or lick his bottom to relax him.

Treatment: Dewormers and Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are best for treating dogs that scoot due to anal gland problems and skin allergies. Consult your vet and add fiber to your dog’s diet to prevent digestive and anal gland issues.

Visible worms in fur or fecal matter

Some worms may cause small moving segments around your dog’s fur. Roundworms can often be found in dogs’ stools. The worms will appear like yellow specks or moving rice pieces if dry.

Treatment: Your veterinarian can prescribe the appropriate deworming medication based on the parasite and the extent of the infestation.

Steps to Prevent Worms in Dogs

  • Prevent dog worms with monthly medication, as your veterinarian prescribes throughout the year.
  • Early detection and intervention in the form of a dog dewormer.
  • At least twice a week, clean up backyard feces to ensure worms and pests don’t grow there.
  • Use sanitary gloves and sealable bags to dispose of feces in public parks, playgrounds, and dog parks.
  • Providing sanitary and hygienic conditions in the home, including limiting internal exposure to contaminated soil, feces, or host animals.
  • Limiting or avoiding exposure to potentially contaminated objects, locations, animals, or people in public, especially with children.

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What happens if worms go untreated in dogs?

Chronic bloody diarrhea can result from untreated worms. A dog with hookworms may have painful and blood-tinged stools. Blood loss can lead to heart failure and high blood pressure.

In addition to depriving your dog of nutrients, worms can damage his internal organs. Young puppies may die from heavy infections.

What is the lifespan of dog worms?

The immature tapeworm matures in the dog’s intestine and completes the cycle. A hydatid tapeworm takes approximately six to nine weeks to complete its life cycle.

Should I take him to the veterinarian if my dog doesn’t feel well after treating the worms?

Lethargy and diarrhea are common side effects of deworming medication for puppies and last 24 to 48 hours after treatment. If it persists, you should take your pup to a veterinarian.

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