Did you know that there are five different types of worms your dog can get including heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms? If you don’t treat them, they can lead to several complications for your dog including poor growth, slowed development, anemia, and possibly death.
However, before you treat the worm infestation, you have to know what to look for. We’ll cover the common signs and how to get rid of worms in dogs, so you know how to safely and effectively treat this parasite before it leads to health complications for your dog.
Common Clues Your Dog Has a Parasite Infection
With some internal parasites, a diagnosis can be tricky because there may not be any obvious signs that something is wrong with your dog. However, there are also several common symptoms or clues that can point to an internal parasite infection, and they include:
- Bloating – Does your dog look bloated whether or not they’ve eaten? Having continuous bloat or seeming generally uncomfortable can be a sign of worms.
- Coughing – Your dog naturally coughs from time to time just like a person will. However, if you notice your dog starting to cough more than normal or go on extended coughing fits, this is a sign of worms.
- Fever – You may notice that your dog is running a fever with this type of infection. It can come and go, and it normally won’t stay constant.
- Lethargy – Sudden changes in appetite or lethargy is common as the worms advance. This can also come with vomiting that gets worse over time.
- Scooting – Scooting refers to your dog dragging it’s butt across the floor. It looks like they’re “scooting” across the floor when they do this.
- Stool Problems – Your dog’s stool may be loose or covered in mucus when they go to the bathroom. Additionally, you may notice worms in their stool or what looks like small grains of rice.
Different Types of Worms
While there are five types of worms, only four types are intestinal worms, but we’re going to cover all five types. We’ll go over what each worm is, how it’s transmitted, and symptoms specific to that type of parasite infection.
Heartworms are almost completely preventable, but they’re also one of the most damaging and scary types of parasitic infection your dog can get. Heartworms live and thrive in your dog’s heart and in the large blood vessels, and they can grow to be over 12 inches long.
Heartworms are transmitted by a mosquito biting your dog and transmitting the heartworm larvae into your dog’s blood where it travels to their heart. These worms can cause coughing, difficulty breathing, and death in more severe cases, so prevention is the key with this parasite.
Hookworms are small worms with hook-like attachments on their mouths that attach to your dog’s intestinal wall. They feed on your dog’s blood, and they eject their eggs out into your dog’s intestines and into their feces.
These parasites can get into your dog’s body through your dog licking and cleaning themselves, ingesting feces or dirt, through milk by nursing puppies, or by the worms burrowing through their pads on the bottom of their feet. Since it feeds on blood, these types of worms can cause anemia, and this is especially dangerous to young puppies or older dogs.
Roundworms live in your dog’s small intestine, and they’re a slightly larger parasite that grows up to seven inches long and look are long and thin like spaghetti noodles. The roundworms attach to your dog’s intestine and feed on your dog’s blood as well as the nutrients from their food.
Roundworms are one of the most common parasite infections your dog can get, and your dog can get roundworm by eating infected rodents or birds, as well as through the mother dog’s milk. Common symptoms of roundworms include a potbellied look, weight loss, dull coat, and abdominal pain.
Tapeworms are flat and long worms that attach to your dog’s intestines, but you can also seem them on your dog’s rear end and in their feces as small, white specs that look like grains of rice. They feed on the nutrients your dog gets from their food, and there may not be any warning signs.
There are 14 different species of tapeworms, but one of the most common ways your dog gets an infection is through flea eggs. Also, if your dog eats meat that is contaminated with these worms, they can transfer from the meat to your dog and cause lethargy and weight loss.
Whipworms thrive in your dog’s cecum, and they’re two to three inches long with a tapered end that resembles a whip. They attach to your dog’s mucus membrane, and they feed on your dog’s blood.
Your dog can get a whipworm infection through eating soil or drinking water that is contaminated with feces containing whipworm eggs. You may notice bloody feces with this infection and a more severe infection can lead to worse complications or even death in otherwise healthy dogs.
Preventing Worms in Dogs
Prevention is the key when it comes to these parasites because it’s much easier to take preventative steps than to treat the resulting infection. There are several things that you can do to prevent these worms, and they include:
- Make sure that you clean your yard regularly and remove any feces that you can see, and you should plan on doing this at least once a week. Over time, these feces can get infested with worms, and they can transmit to your dog if they eat it or get it on their coat and then ingest it when they clean themselves.
- Your vet will prescribe deworming medications, and it’s important that you give these medications to your dog as recommended by your veterinarian. It’s especially important that you do this when your dog is young because puppies usually get at least three rounds of dewormer to help prevent infections as they grow.
- If you can’t prevent your dog from getting worms, you can help to catch it quickly before the infection advances. Make sure that you’re routinely checking your dog’s fur, feces, and rear for the worms themselves, larvae, or any eggs.
How to Get Rid of Worms Naturally
Although you may want to take your dog to the veterinarian to get a professional’s opinion, there are several things that you can do at home to keep your dog healthy, happy, and free of a parasitic infection.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Almost all homes have apple cider vinegar around because it has powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that make it an excellent cleaning agent. It’s natural and safe for your dog to digest, and this makes it a popular remedy for getting rid of worms.
To give this remedy to your dog, start by adding one-fourth of a teaspoon to their food or water each day, and slowly increase this over a week until you get to one teaspoon. Once you get to a teaspoon, you can keep giving them this amount each day to keep the worms away.
Black Cumin and Pumpkin Seeds
Both black cumin and pumpkin seeds along with black cumin oil are safe for your dog, and they work to prevent, expel, and maintain your dog’s worm-free state. You want to give your dog between a half and a whole teaspoon of black cumin seed each day in their food, but remember to heat it first to get rid of the very bitter aftertaste.
Pumpkin seeds work very well if you grind them before you add them to your dog’s food, and you want to add around one-fourth of a teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight. For black cumin oil, use half of what you use for black cumin seeds, and it’s always a good idea to start at the lower end of the dosage and work your way up to the full dose.
Chamomile is popular for having anti-inflammatory properties, but it’s a slower acting herb where parasites are concerned that works by reducing any discomfort your dog may have. You can make a chamomile tincture and add it to your dog’s food or water twice a day at 0.25 to 0.50 milliliters per every 20 pounds of body weight.
To make your chamomile tincture by mixing:
- 1/2 to 1 cup of dried Chamomile flowers
- 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of boiling water
- 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups rum or vodka
- Quart glass jar with an airtight lid
Add your flowers to the bottom of the jar and pour the boiling water over the flowers. Next, pour the rum or vodka into the water and flower mixture until the jar is full and seal the lid.
Once it’s sealed, store it in a cool and dry place for four to six weeks and shake it for a few minutes each day. After four to six weeks, open the jar, strain the liquid, and it’s now ready to add to your dog’s water or food once a day.
Dried coconut is excellent for getting rid of worms due to its fiber content, and it can help expel up to 90 percent of any parasitic worms that your dog may have in under 24 hours. You do want to start your dog on a lower quantity and slowly work your way up to the regular dose over the span of a week or two to avoid digestive upset.
The maintenance dose you want to eventually end up with is one teaspoon for small dogs, two teaspoons for medium dogs, and one tablespoon for large dogs once a day sprinkled over their food. You may want to start with half of a dose or a quarter of a dose and work your way up to the full dose.
As long as your dog isn’t on blood thinners, feeding them garlic can help to rid them of any parasitic worms. Garlic helps to remove mucus from your dog’s stomach lining, and this makes it more difficult for the worms to attach and thrive.
You do want to give your dog fresh cloves of garlic, and let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 to 20 minutes before you chop it and add it to their food because this will allow the garlic to release an amino acid called allicin. The suggested feeding guidelines are as follows:
- Small Dogs – One-quarter of a clove of garlic twice per day.
- Medium Dogs – One half of a clove of garlic twice per day.
- Large Dogs – Three-quarters of a clove of garlic twice per day.
- Giant Dogs – One clove of garlic twice per day.
Vegetables and Fruits
Anything with high levels of vitamin A is an excellent home remedy to help slow down and eradicate an infection of parasitic worms. You don’t want to feed your dog too much of these fruits and vegetables because it can cause digestive upset, especially when you first introduce it into their diet.
You may want to start feeding your dog a half of a teaspoon of fruits or vegetables for every 10 pounds of body weight once a day for at least a week to get them used to it. After a week, you can increase these dose to a half of a teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight twice a day at mealtimes.
Fruits and vegetables that have high levels of vitamin A include:
- Raw Carrot
Getting rid of worms in dogs can be an ongoing process that takes time and effort on your part. But, once you get rid of them, keeping your dog healthy, happy, and worm free is a relatively easy process, especially if you use one or more of our natural worm remedies.