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Worms in dogs

Worming your dog

We all know that regularly worming your dog is important, but how often should you worm your dog? Here we explain how to win the war on these pesky parasites and help your four-legged friend stay fit and healthy.

How do dogs get worms?

From puppyhood it’s vital we adopt an effective dog worming programme as these parasites are everywhere. Your dog can pick up worms from eating contaminated soil, vegetation or faeces that contains worm eggs, from infected rodents or fleas that carry worm larvae or from contact with other worm-ridden dogs. Some larvae can even burrow through a dog’s skin.

Spotting the signs of dog worms

Intestinal worms are a health problem that can affect all dogs, of all ages, which is why an effective dog worming programme is so essential. Left unchecked these parasites could steal essential vitamins, minerals and energy your dog requires to grow and stay healthy – and they can also lead to serious intestinal issues.

So how can you tell if your dog has worms? Signs can be very difficult to spot; it could vary from the obvious – there may be visible worms in your dog’s poop for example – to the very subtle, a dull lifeless coat and lack of energy. The best thing you can do to ensure worms in dogs don’t become a problem for your pet is to stamp them out with a regular dog worming plan.

The main dog worms signs include:
- There may be visible worms in your dog’s poop or around their anus
- Your dog may constantly try to scratch or rub their rear end
- Your dog may ‘butt scoot’ across the floor, as some intestinal parasites will cause itching of the bottom
- Dog worms can cause diarrhoea, which may contain blood
- You may be able to see worms in your dog’s vomit
- Your dog may have a swollen, pot-bellied stomach; alternatively he/she may be constantly hungry, yet losing weight
- Coughing, lethargy, anaemia and a dull coat can also be signs of dog worms

Types of dog worm

There are many dog worm types – and all are potentially nasty if left untreated. Follow our simple guide to the main dog worms and intestinal parasites, and discover how they find their way in…

Common dog worm types:
- Roundworms are especially common in puppies and can often be passed via the mother’s milk. Adult dogs usually contract these worms from ingesting larvae in contaminated soil or meat (especially offal). They can show as spaghetti-like worms in your dog’s poop
- Hookworms and whipworms are particularly cunning blood suckers, with sharp ‘teeth’ that attach to dog’s intestines and suck the blood. Eating larvae via contaminated soil is a common way for these parasites to invade, with signs of these dog worms including diarrhoea and weight loss
- Tapeworms can be spread by infected fleas and look like grains of rice in your dog’s poop

What harm can worms do to your dog?

Dog worms vary in their ability to damage their host (the dog), with effects ranging from mild lethargy and weight loss to serious organ damage. The old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ comes to the fore here: a regular, effective dog worming schedule is the only way to ensure you are helping keep these unwanted visitors away from your dog and family. All dogs will carry worms to some extent, and only regular worming will combat the treat of intestinal worms.

A heavy worm burden in your dog may result in:
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- Weight loss and lethargy
- Weakness and depression
- Coughing
- Anaemia
- Especially in puppy, an abnormally swollen tummy with a ‘pot-bellied’ appearance

Are dog worms contagious?

In a word, yes – dog worms can be passed from dog to dog, and even to us too. Transmission of dog worms to humans, while rare, is largely via faeces, which is why it’s so important to safely bag and bin dog mess. Worms can also be spread from dogs to humans via contaminated soil that’s filled with worm egg larvae (for example roundworms and hookworms), which is why it’s advisable to wear gloves when handling soil and avoid walking barefoot in areas where dogs may have soiled.

Treating and preventing dog worms

The frequency of worming your dog depends on their lifestyle and environment, however recent research has shown that the majority of dogs in the UK should be wormed monthly.

Make worming bone-shaped and beef flavoured with Drontal Tasty Bone, suitable for dogs 2-20kg. For dogs over 20kg, Drontal Tasty Bone XL is a more convenient option.

Drontal targets and kills all common intestinal worms found in UK dogs helping keep these unwanted visitors away from your dogs and family.

For puppies from 2 weeks old and weighing over 6kg Drontal puppy liquid solution may be an easier way to worm your puppy.

According to a recent survey of UK pet owners*, many owners are dosing their dogs fewer times than is recommended to reduce both the risk for transmitting to humans and improving the pet’s health. The simple take home message? Dog worms are a health risk, but an effective dog worming programme, given at the correct frequency (Click here to find out how often you should worm), will keep your dog and family away from any unwanted visitors.


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*Pennelegion C, Drake J et al. Survey of UK pet owners quantifying internal parasite infection risk and deworming recommendation implications, Parasites & Vectors, 2020 Issue 13; 218. 

How Often Should I Worm?