Ah, so you’ve met puppy worms. How delightful. Puppy worms are indeed going to be part of the start of you and your puppy’s journey together. It’s almost like they’re written in small print, but it’s definitely part of the job to make them go away. For your puppy to grow healthy and strong, it’s actually quite important for dog owners to understand the risks and symptoms of puppy worms and how to get rid of them. 

It might sound like a lot, but it’s no trouble, we’re here to help you along the way. In this article, we’ll talk you through all the different puppy worms there, the symptoms of puppy worms, and all the available treatments. Check you out, you can probably become the official puppy dewormer in your neighbourhood.

Types of puppy worms

Let’s make proper introductions. Here’s a list of all the types of puppy worms (just don’t greet them with a handshake…better not to touch them at all – bleurgh)

Roundworm

  • Roundworms are quite long and spaghetti-like;  they can be white or light brown in colour too. Hope you can still enjoy a bowl of spaghetti after this. 
  • You’ll see these types of worms in dog’s poo. Roundworms live in the dog’s gut, and lay eggs within the intestine. These are then pooped out, and probably end up eaten by other dogs.  And so the yuck life cycle continues.   
  • Puppies are infected with roundworms when they are in the womb. Pot bellies, a dull coat and a slow or poor growth rate are sure signs of roundworm, so you might want to keep an eye out for them.
  • Here’s the good news: Roundworms are extremely common in dogs, so there’s no need to panic too much if yours gets them. It’s just another benefit of owning a dog!  
Photo by Lydia Torrey on Unsplash

Hookworm

  • Okay, so these puppy worms are really gross. Hookworms are short, blood sucking intestinal parasites… with teeth! Yep, sounds like a horror film, right?
  • Although small, hookworms can cause problems in puppies and dogs. They strip nutrients out of dogs and in the case of puppies, they can be fatal due to how much blood they suck; potentially causing anaemia. They really are a bunch of little…you know what.
  • Fortunately, hookworms aren’t very common in the UK, but they can be found more widely in Europe so don’t let your guard down just yet. 

Whipworm

  • Whipworms are  named as such because they are shaped like a whip (yet much less fun), and are around 2-3 inches in length. An uncomfortably large size, if you ask us. 
  • Whipworms aren’t really puppy worms since they mostly affect senior dogs who have a high ‘worm burden’ (dog slang for ‘having a large infestation’) , so you can take a breather. If you have a senior dog, look out for weight loss, mucus or bloody poops – these are often signs of Whipworm.  
  • Whipworms are thankfully not too common  these days – at least in the UK. But they do tend to be more prevalent in Europe.

Tapeworm

  • Tapeworms are transmitted when your dog eats infected fleas when grooming themselves or other dogs. See why it’s important not to go licking things?
  • Now these really go beyond the pale. Tapeworms are flat, white, ribbon like worms and can be over a foot or more in length! They also have 6 revolting rows of sharp teeth. We do wish you luck in digesting your next bowl of noodles. 
  • You’ll find these worms in dog poop or around their tail by seeing what looks like grains of rice…except these are in fact pieces of the tapeworm busting their way out of the dog in order to reproduce! Vom worthy. 
  • In a puppy, a high worm burden can be quite serious and cause anaemia, intestinal blockage and a slow/low growth rate so better get it looked at as soon as you can. 

Lungworm

  • Snails, frogs and slugs are some of the wonderful animals that live in the great outdoors. However, they’re also ones that often have lungworm and can transmit it to dogs when they give them a lick or get in contact with them. 
  • Lungworms are really not fun, so we’re not going to joke around that much for this. They live in dogs’ heart and blood vessels, which means they can cause problems in the heart, breathing issues and pneumonia. In some cases, they can even cause hemorrhages in the lungs, intestine, eyes and spinal cord. If left untreated, it can sadly be fatal!
  •  After only 28 days, these worms can start to reproduce so it’s important to keep an eye out for them.

Heartworm

  • Not only are mosquitoes annoying for their incredibly irritating buzzing sounds, but also because they can transmit heartworm to dogs and puppies. Once they bite, the worms travel from the vessels to the heart where they take as their new home.
  • Heartworm are the type of puppy worms that can cause quite a lot of damage to the vessels in the heart, liver, lungs and kidneys.
  • Once again, heartworms are no joke. The treatment for heartworm can be quite tricky even if detected quite early – but luckily for us, the UK is at low risk for this. 
Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

Symptoms of puppy worms

Ah yes, these will be good to know. Puppy worms might be hard to spot, so you might want to make it a habit to go hunting for worms in your dog’s poop. It’ll be weird, but it’ll be worth it. In the meantime, here’s a couple of puppy worm symptoms to look out for:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Lethargy
  • Dull coat
  • Dehydration
  • Cough (normally only seen in roundworm and hookworm infections)
  • Blocked intestine (only in severe cases or infestations)
  • Pneumonia (only seen in serious cases of roundworm)
  • Lack of growth or weight in a puppy

Worm treatment for puppies

Wormers come in all shapes and sizes:

Of course, if you’re unsure please always contact your vet. They’ll know which one’s best for your puppy!

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

So as you’ve read, puppy worms are probably among the least fabulous things you’ll face in your puppy parenthood journey. It’s sad and disgusting, but true. On the bright side, we hope we’ve given you a good enough guide so you can squirm away from them as soon as you spot them, and get the right treatment to banish them. Worms, be gone!

Now that we’re on topic, you might want to take a look at our article about how often you should worm a puppy. Look at you all prepared to take on the worms…