How to Identify and Treat Worms in Puppy Poop

"Unfortunately, finding worms in puppy poop is a common problem. The three most commonly diagnosed dog worm types are coccidia, hookworms and roundworms. Puppies are often born with worms that are passed on from the mother before birth or through nursing. Worms can be dangerous in puppies and should trigger a trip to the veterinarian whenever they are suspected. Puppies should be dewormed at least 2x, usually during their first and second visit to a vet or when the first time they are vaccinated. This can occur as early as 2 weeks of age. Symptoms include poor coat condition and a loose stool. Some worms such as hookworms and roundworms can be passed to children and adults, making it even more important to seek prompt treatment. Diagnosis is based on an examination of the feces (bring a sample to the vet). Once diagnosed, puppies will be receive a prescription dewormer followed by the suggested use of a preventative."

Intestinal worms are an extremely common problem in dogs, and are especially common and problematic in puppies. The three main types of intestinal parasites seen in puppies are roundworms, hookworms, and a type of protozoa called coccidia.  Roundworms and hookworms can be transmitted to humans and, for this reason alone, dog owners should take intestinal parasites very seriously.

worms in puppy
Commonly Found Worms in Puppy Poop

Many puppies are infected before birth and, despite attempted de-worming by breeders and shelters, still are infected when they go home to their new families. It is important for every family taking in a new puppy to be aware of the dangers of intestinal parasites and to start appropriate monitoring and prevention of parasites right away with a trip to the veterinarian.

Many breeding kennels and animal shelters have rampant worm infestations, and despite efforts to disinfect the environment and de-worm the population, a majority of puppies that come out of some of these facilities are infected with worms when they go home to their new families. For this reason, it is important that you make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible after adopting or purchasing a new puppy, preferably the same day. You should bring a fresh stool sample (deposited in the last 12 hours) with you to the appointment so that the vet can check for microscopic parasite eggs. If your dog does not provide you with a sample your vet may be able to obtain one during the appointment or may send you home with a container to bring back at a later time.

Puppy Worms Symptoms

Worms such as roundworms and hookworms, and the protozoa coccidia are  a danger to the puppy.  They cause the following dog worm symptoms and conditions:

  • malnutrition
  • weight loss
  • poor hair/coat
  • loose stool or diarrhea
  • anemia
  • round belly (if they are full of worms)
  • pneumonia (in severe cases)

Puppy Worms Diagnosis and Treatment

Feces should be examined at every annual checkup and when a puppy is first brought to a vet.  You can see roundworms and tapeworms with the naked eye. Hookworms and other parasites require examination with a microscope.

Signs of Worms in Puppy Poop

As mentioned, roundworms and tapeworms can be seen in the poop without the help of a microscope. 

  • Dog tapeworms:  look like flat white rice kernels.  They can be found in the feces or around the anus. 
  • Dog roundworms: these are 3 to 5 inches and are long, round, white and look like spaghetti.  The can be found in puppy poop or in vomit.

If parasite eggs or worms in puppy poop are found, your vet will prescribe an appropriate de-wormer and follow up with repeat fecal examinations until the stool is clear. Your puppy should also be started on a monthly heartworm preventive such as Trifexis®, Sentinel®, or Interceptor®. These products not only protect your dog against heartworm disease, but also prevent future intestinal parasite infection.  For added support of the pups natural immune system defenses, you can also consider the use of a natural homeopathic formulated for this purpose such as Parasite Dr.

If you have other dogs in the house, your veterinarian will probably want to either check the other dogs’ stool samples or just go ahead and de-worm each dog. There is no need to isolate the infected dog, but do make sure to pick up any feces deposited by the dog right away, and you may want to bleach the spot in the grass just to be on the safe side. 

Worms often live in areas where animals poop. Because of this it's a smart idea for dog owners to remove any feces found in the yard or other living areas.

Dog Worms and Humans

If your vet finds signs of worms in puppy poop, appropriate measures should also be taken to reduce the possibility of transmission to a house mate or family member. Use good hygiene practices around the dog - always wash your hands after handling the dog or its feces, do not kiss the dog or allow the dog to lick you in the face, and do not sleep with the dog in your bed. Instruct children on how to follow these hygiene basics. For small children and babies, it may be best to keep them away from the puppy altogether until the puppy’s stool is clear.  If children are helping in the garden, ask them to wear gloves (and shoes) as a precaution.  They should not have any exposed cuts or scrapes as well.

References Worms in Puppy

Washington State University


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