Nine Common Signs of Intestinal Parasites in Dogs
Most of the time, you can't spot intestinal parasites in dogs as easily as you would with a bad case of fleas or ticks. Many dogs get parasites at some point in their lives, and they might never show signs or symptoms until the infection becomes serious.
Since intestinal parasites can cause potentially life-threatening issues, it helps to learn what signs you should look for so you know when to take your furry companion to the vet.
At XDOG, we’re passionate about helping dog owners keep their beloved pets in peak condition with natural supplements that support the immune system, such as our specially formulated bully puppy supplements.
In this article, our experts share the most prevalent symptoms of parasite infections in dogs.
What Causes Intestinal Parasites in Dogs?
Whether you live in a city or on a farm, your dog could come into contact with parasites like the following:
If you’re familiar with dogs, you probably already know they love to roll around in the dirt and eat things they aren’t supposed to. Unfortunately, these traits can lead to parasite infections. Dogs can get intestinal parasites by eating the larvae of worms, consuming infected feces, coming into contact with contaminated soil, drinking dirty water, or ingesting infected prey animals.
In addition, pregnant dogs with parasite infections can pass them to their puppies before they’re born or when nursing. Some parasites can directly penetrate your pet’s skin.
Nine Symptoms of Intestinal Parasites in Dogs
If you’re seeing the signs of intestinal parasites in your dog, it usually means your pet’s infection has progressed significantly. However, tapeworms and roundworms are sometimes easy to detect early because the worms are visible in your dog’s feces or in its fur.
You should follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for parasite screenings and preventive medication to avoid severe health conditions in your dog. Many of the signs of parasite infections are also indications of other issues.
With that being said, here are nine of the typical symptoms of intestinal parasites in dogs.
1. Pot-Bellied Puppies
Puppies with big, round bellies are adorable, but distended stomachs can also be a symptom of a roundworm infection. The puppy’s mother can pass infections prior to birth or through nursing. When puppies ingest worm eggs or larvae, the parasites eventually develop in their small intestines and begin laying eggs.
2. Dull Coat
Various parasite species, including hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms, can affect the texture and condition of your dog’s coat. For example, roundworm infection in dogs can cause your pet’s fur to look dull and dry rather than shiny and soft.
3. Skin Irritation
If you notice your dog scratching more frequently than usual, the itchiness could be a reaction from intestinal parasites. You might also see some hair loss or skin irritation. One of the classic signs of worms is when your pet scoots across the floor on their behind, trying to relieve the itch caused by parasites near its anus.
Vomiting is a serious sign of parasitic worms, and it usually happens with roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, or tapeworms. You might even be able to recognize visible worms in the vomit. Giardia, which is a one-celled organism rather than a worm, can also lead to vomiting.
One of the most concerning symptoms of intestinal parasites is diarrhea, which can lead to severe dehydration. Hookworms, whipworms, and coccidia can cause bloody diarrhea, which requires immediate attention from a veterinarian. Tapeworms and roundworms can also show up in your dog’s feces after they have diarrhea, with an appearance similar to grains of rice.
6. Weight Loss and Poor Growth
Bloodsucking worms cause internal bleeding in your dog’s intestines that could progress to anemia, weight loss, and stunted growth in puppies. With sneaky parasites stealing their nutrients, young dogs might suffer from development issues due to malnourishment and long-term anemia.
Heartworm infections bring on a dry, persistent cough that happens more frequently after exercising your pet. Roundworms are another culprit for coughing pups because the worm’s larvae migrate to the lungs during their life cycle, causing your dog to cough them up.
Particularly severe infections can lead to pneumonia in dogs, which causes a wet cough.
8. Lack of Energy
Parasites feed on the blood and nutrients of your pet, so a lengthy infection can induce fatigue, low energy, irritability, and weakness. You should be concerned if your dog is much less playful than normal or seems unable to be at ease.
9. Appetite Change
A sudden change in appetite is almost always a cause for worry, and it’s one of the standard signs of intestinal parasites in dogs. Your companion might lose their appetite or become more hungry than usual, and parasites can cause them to lose weight no matter how much they eat.
Treatment and Prevention of Intestinal Parasites in Dogs
If you’re noticing symptoms of intestinal parasites, your dog might already have a severe infection. Fortunately, parasites are generally easy to treat and prevent. Your veterinarian can take fecal samples and test for the presence of worms, including which type of parasite your pet has.
The treatment your veterinarian suggests depends on the severity of the infection and the type of parasite. They might prescribe several courses of medication to ensure you eradicate all the parasites from your dog’s body. Heartworm medication can usually protect your pet from the most common intestinal parasites.
Safeguard Your Dog’s Health with All-Natural Supplements
Intestinal parasites in dogs can be a life-threatening issue no matter your pet’s age, so you should be aware of the signs and stay on top of your dog’s periodic health check-ups.
At XDOG, we offer a wide range of supplements to support your dog’s health, with formulas that strengthen its immune system, muscles, joints, and more.