Roundworms are as common as fur in dogs. Almost all dogs have this nasy parasite at some point in their lives—but most often in puppyhood. There are two main kinds of roundworm that affect dogs: Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonine. By the name, you can already tell they’re just toxic little things. 

Puppy stood on rock
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Let’s get squirmy and dig into everything about roundworms: what they are, what roundworms in puppies looks like, treatments for roundworms in puppies and how you can prevent your puppy getting roundworms in the future.

Puppy health, both physical and mental, is important and is one of the reasons we created the Zigzag puppy training app. Download a free trial today and we’ll take you on a personalised step-by-step training journey based around your pup’s developmental milestones. We also have a team of puppy coaches ready to pick up the phone whenever you call or message for help. Seriously, whenever – they’re literally there 24/7.

What are roundworms?

  • Roundworms are an internal parasite that is common in dogs. They even have their own name Toxocara Canis, which relates to their chosen host. 
  • Think about spag bol without the sauce. Roundworms look like long pieces of spaghetti and are white or light brown in colour. 
  • They live in a dog’s gut, munching up all of their internal nutrients and laying eggs in their intestines. Your dog will then poop the roundworms out, and then they’ll get eaten by other dogs to complete their life cycle. De-light-ful. 
  • Roundworms in puppies are often contracted when they are still in their mother’s womb.
  • Roundworm larvae can also be passed to puppies when nursing through their mother’s mammary tissue and milk glands.
close up of puppy face
Photo by Kayla Farmer on Unsplash

What are the symptoms for roundworms in puppies?

You often won’t know your puppy has roundworms, but there are some symptoms that are fairly easy to spot:

Pot bellied puppies often have roundworms

Yep – that cute pot belly that your puppy has could actually just be a belly full of roundworms.

Roundworm often gives puppies diarrhoea or slimy poop

Dive into their poop. Roundworms will upset a growing puppy’s tummy and give them persistent diarrhoea, or make their poop appear mucousy. Could your puppy previously hold it and was toilet trained, but doesn’t seem to be able to make it now? Do get them checked over and feed them a bland diet while they’re getting over their worms.

Roundworm in puppies can cause vomiting

It gets grosser. Roundworms can make puppies actually sick. Take a peek next time at your puppies’ vomit – you can maybe spot some nasty worms squirming around. 

Roundworms look like grains of rice in your puppy’s poop

If you see white flecks that look like rice in your puppy’s poop, or hanging around their bottom area, it’s a good idea to get them checked for worms. Besides that, definitely give them a bath and keep them clean too! Didn’t think you’d have to wipe your puppy’s bum, did you?

A dull or dry coat can be caused by roundworm

The worms take away nutrients from puppies, so your puppy’s coat can become dry or dull due to being deficient and not getting the proper level of nutrition

Your puppy may develop a cough if they have roundworms

Weird piece of information you wish you hadn’t read: Roundworms can move to your puppy’s lungs and cause them to cough. 

How are puppies suffering from roundworms treated?

Luckily, roundworms in puppies are easily treated. Your breeder will probably advise you of an initial worming schedule, because worms are just so common in new puppies. Once they are past the initial worming, vets generally recommend worming a puppy past 6 months of age every 3 months. For more information on worming schedules, read our article on when to worm your puppy.

There are a few different treatment options for worming your puppy:

  • Liquid puppy worming treatment: this is a popular worming treatment for dogs up to a year old.
  • Paste puppy worming: this treatment is popular with breeders and works well.
  • Granular powder worming treatment: this is just sprinkled on food and easy to give- they’ll just gobble it up.
  • Tablet wormer: these are often the most common way of worming a puppy and dog, and any of the worming tablets are very palatable

If your puppy has been vomiting or has diarrhoea, then your vet may recommend you also feed them a specific or gentle puppy diet to help settle their tummy.

close up of brown labrador puppy
Photo by Garrett Karoski on Unsplash

How to prevent future roundworm infections in puppies?

There are a few things that you can incorporate in your pups daily life to help with the prevention of future roundworm infections. Roundworms are not fun for any pup, so making sure you take the necessary precautions to avoid future infection will enable your pup to have a roundworm free life! 

Here are some tips to prevent future infection from these nasty friends:

  • Keep to a regular worming schedule so that worms don’t get a chance to settle in your puppy’s gut.
  • Worm all other dogs that live in your household too, or else they’ll just pass them back to your puppy. No one wants to relive that.
  • Make sure you clean up poop left by your puppy and any other dogs to stop your puppy eating them.
  • Teach your puppy a reliable ‘’leave it’’ to prevent them eating other dog’s poo when out and about. You’ll see, dogs are weird about eating poop. 
  • Consider a natural preventative. Freshly ground non-salted pumpkin seeds are a great option if you’re averse to giving your puppy a more chemical wormer, or the wormer upsets their tummy.
  • Keep your puppy clean and free of poo on their bottom by grooming and bathing them regularly.

We’d love to talk more about roundworms but there’s probably other things you enjoy doing with your day. Plus, this is about as much as you need to know about them – they’re just annoying things that need to go away. Now that you’re here, you might want to check out our blog on how much you should feed your puppy or learn about your puppy’s body language, to understand how they communicate with us. 

We don’t like to brag, but we do offer the la creme de la creme of puppy training methods… Download a free trial of the Zigzag puppy training app, and start out on a personal journey that embraces your puppy’s emotional and developmental milestones, and what their breed finds motivating to do. We always have our team of experts on hand to help you with any of your puppy’s quirks or for those puppy questions you need a reliable answer for.