How To Identify Dog Parasites

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How To Identify Dog Parasites

by Eleanor Wilson

There are a number of different worms that can inhabit a dog's intestines. These dog parasites are most common in puppies and young dogs, and although they can make the dog unwell, are not considered life threatening. Generally, dog parasites, particularly roundworms, are passed from the mother to the puppy either before or right after birth.

Tapeworms are also quite common, and dogs of any age that are infested with fleas or who like to snack on the occasional gopher are at risk of acquiring them. Older dogs, however, are also very susceptible to a wider range of worms, including roundworms, whipworms, hookworms and tapeworms.


Tapeworms grow inside the small intestine, and are a very persistent dog parasite. The tapeworm is made up of a number of parts, including a head that stays attached to the intestine wall, and dozens of segments filled with eggs that break off and exit the body in the dog's feces. If you see what looks like rice grains or cream-colored maggots in the feces or around your dog's anus, that's likely to indicate tapeworms. They're usually about one quarter to one half of an inch long. These parasites can move a little, but only very slowly. Once the feces are dry, you can sometimes still see what looks like a rice of grain lurking in hair around the anus.


Roundworms get around a bit more than tapeworms, and can be found in both the small and large intestines of dogs. It's generally found in young puppies, and is passed on from their mother. It's extremely to check for roundworms yourself, as their presence basically requires the feces to be tested for traces of roundworms. Most of the time a light dose of roundworms won't cause the puppy too many problems, but heavier infestations need to be treated.


This particular parasite isn't as common as the first two, and generally only occurs in areas that are crowded and unsanitary. It does need to be treated, however, because it can cause serious health issues for the infected dog. Basically, the hookworm sucks up the animal's blood, which can result in anemia. It's important to consult your vet if your dog shows any symptoms of anemia, so that treatment can commence immediately.


Whipworms are common, but their presence usually doesn't cause any symptoms. Most of the time this parasite is dormant. Sometimes, though, your dog may develop a persistent watery diarrhea, which can indicate the presence of whipworms.

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