Dog Health & CareDog WormsHow-To Dog Articles

Dog Worms – How to Recognize and Control Them

Dog worms, how to recognize and control them. Hmmm.  Nice title and it appears to be an achievable goal.  However, how many dogs have you seen who are 100% worm-free and will remain that way?  They do have a purpose dog worms, that is.  Every time we see one, we are reminded that mankind is not as high on the food chain as we think. And for that, we offer thanks.

As a rule, worms in dogs are nasty and distasteful.  A mass of writhing larva or icky’ doggy worms in a fresh pile of dog poop can be repulsive and quite foul.  Jack Handy, from Saturday Night Live, once said, “My young son once asked me what happens after we die.  I told him we get buried under a bunch of dirt and worms eat our bodies.  I guess I should have told him the truth — that most of us go to Hell and burn eternally — but I didn’t want to upset him.”

Natural selection of common dog worms

In 2008, a group of United States scientists discovered that “natural selection” favors harmful parasites (which could be any type of a worm attracted to dogs) by maximizing their fitness.  Emory University researcher, Jacobus de Roode, PhD, uncovered the evidence to support the natural selection theory.  “Classic evolutionary theory predicts that the parasites become more virulent because they must transmit them between hosts (dogs).”

The study found that high levels of replication in  the host actually resulted in:

(1) A higher virulence.

(2) Greater transmission of parasites or dog worms.

This parasite study went hand-in-hand with the Science publication, “Running with the Red Queen: Host-Parasite Coevolution Selects for Biparental Sex.” The Red-Queen hypothesis gained its name from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

According to the study, “The idea is that sexual reproduction via cross-fertilization keeps host populations one evolutionary step ahead of the parasites, which are coevolving to infect them. It is within this coevolutionary context that both hosts and parasites are running (evolving) as fast as they can just to stay in the same place.”

Not all dogs with worms in their stools have a worm intestinal infestation.  It is another fact that healthy dogs with a good immune system can naturally shed worms.  The process is similar to the one-piece skin shedding of a tarantula or a snake.

Humans who are healthy can shed skin cells, but in a different way.  We unassumingly shed 1.5 million skin cells every 60 minutes, while our body grows a new skin layer every 28 days. So … obviously, nature is quite capable of taking care of Earth’s creations.  So, what seems to be the problem in controlling our dog’s worms?

To recognize and control dog worms to make your dog’s life healthy and happy, and your own, is what responsible dog ownership is all about. Worms are not selective about the dogs they attack … any ol‘ dog will do. The only thing they are responsible for is to remain inside the dog’s body. For this, they need a dog who is not healthy; the goal of dog worms is to live for their own survival.

Dogs who are diagnosed with bad cases of worms are usually sickly, run-down, and in a weakened state. Being fed diets on poor commercial dog food have a lot to do with it, stressful environments, health issues, lack of good health care, and unsanitary living conditions. These are the conditions that can tear down a dog’s immune system, making them susceptible to all kinds of worms and illnesses.

There are certain dog breeds who are at risk for worms, predisposed to immunodeficiency disorders:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgis
  • Jack Russell Terriers
  • Beagles
  • German Shepherds
  • Chinese Sharpies
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Dwarfed Weimaraners
  • Gray Collies
  • Irish Setters

The sad thing is …. dog owners think their dogs do not have worms  because they do not see them. An out of sight – out of mind scenario. Let me ask this same statement but in a different way.

“If you do not see any worms, does that mean your dog doesn’t have worms?”

The answer is, “Of course not!”  And by the time you are seeing worms, eggs, or segments, there are several signs and symptoms of the worms in the dog.  The worms will have set up residence and are planning to stay for a long, long time … inviting all their relatives and friends. In fact, they have a lifelong squatter’s contract unless someone steps in and deworms the dog.

Without treatments, the dog will become host to thriving worms who absorb nutrients and greedily suck all the tissue and blood they can find.  Anemia will develop, due to loss of blood, which makes a sick dog even sicker and weaker.  A dog who is sick is filled with parasites, too weak to fight them off.  It is totally dependent on its owner to deworm it, removing the parasites and their eggs.

Common dog worms

Of all the worms that attack dogs, the five most common ones that do the most damage are: roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms and heartworms.  Hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms are the ones that are the most difficult to get rid of:

  • Hookworms are the most dangerous as they kill dogs by eating intestinal blood and tissue, causing severe anemia.
  • Whipworms are also dangerous, but particularly for dogs with weak immune systems.  Like hookworms, they attach to the intestinal wall and penetrate into the lungs and all other areas.  The only difference is they lay a lot more eggs.
  • Roundworms may not be as destructive as hookworms and whipworms, but they can lie dormant in a female dog or most mammals for many years.  The worms migrate to the puppies when they are born; if the mother and her puppies are in good shape, the worms cannot multiply.  Worm infestations grow in mal-nutritioned or inadequately nourished puppies.
  • Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, growing about a foot long in the dog’s heart.  About 65% of infected dogs who receiveheartworm treatments have severe drug reactions.
  • Tapeworms are the most common dogworm of all, with fleas carrying their eggs.  They attach to the wall of the small intestine, breaking off like little maggots or white rice in the anus area.  Meanwhile, the head remains in the intestine.


>> Read more about how to get rid of Dog Worms here!


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