Why Does My Dog Keep Getting Worms?

Your dog keeps getting worms for various reasons. The five most common worms that infect dogs are heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and whipworms. Each worm is transmitted in a different way and each requires different measures for treatment. Some can be treated naturally while others require chemical treatment under the supervision of a veterinarian. Some worm infestations can be fatal to dogs; all worms drain energy from dogs by depriving them of nutrients.

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A dog can get worms by eating worm eggs off the ground.

Roundworms

Out of all the types of roundworm that can infect dogs, Toxocara canis is the most common. Usually, only young puppies suffer this infection. Dogs get infected either through their mothers or by eating worm eggs. Diagnosis usually requires a microscopic exam of a stool sample. Sometimes, though, your dog may vomit out whole worms. The worms are several inches long and look like white spaghetti. Treatment can be done either chemically or naturally. According to "Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats," natural treatment involves feeding a good, nutritional diet that's high in protein and adding food-grade diatomaceous earth to the food daily.

Hookworms

Hookworms get their name from the little hooks they use to attach themselves to the intestinal walls, where they feed on the dog's blood. In large numbers, they can severely weaken a dog and cause anemia. With a severe infestation, the stool becomes black and almost tarlike from all the blood being lost. Dogs get hookworms from the ground and also from their mother if she was infected. Treatment is done chemically with veterinarian-prescribed drugs.

Whipworms

Adult whipworms look like tiny whips. They use the whip portion to burrow into the intestines where they feed on blood. Dogs get whipworms by eating or drinking the eggs. According to an article posted on Pet Education.com by Dr. Holly Nash, DVM, the eggs are passed through feces, but the eggs need one month's time in the soil before they can cause infection. Severe infestations can cause anemia from the loss of blood. Treatment is best done chemically under veterinary supervision to ensure all worms are killed.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms look like flat ribbon tape. They live in the small intestine where they attach themselves to the wall with their heads and feed by absorbing nutrients through their skin. Each worm can be several inches to a few feet long, consisting of egg-filled segments that break off when the eggs are ripe. These segments look like little maggots when first passed; when they are dry, they look like little grains of white rice. Dogs can get tapeworms from eating wildlife and from eating fleas. Treatment can be done chemically or naturally. According to "Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats," a natural treatment consists of adding wheat-germ oil, vegetable enzymes and male fern to the dog's diet.

Heartworms

Heartworms live in the dog's heart. Severe infestations can cause heart failure and death. These worms can get as long as 11 inches. Dogs get heartworms from being bitten by a mosquito that has bitten an infected dog previously. As of 2010, no natural treatment exists for treating heartworm. Veterinary treatment is toxic and usually requires hospitalization. The existence of a few worms may not require treatment. Pet Education.com recommends that every dog take heartworm prevention medication.