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Health & Wellness

What to do if you find worms in your dog’s poop

Not all worms are the same.

There comes a time in many dog parents’ lives where they have to ask themselves, “Wait, what is that?” while squinting at something wiggling in their furry friend’s poop. Some might even call it a rite of passage. (After all, you’ve proven to your dog and yourself that you’d do anything for them, including inspecting their poop.) If you’re currently reading this, and worried sick about your best friend, don’t sweat it. We spoke with Dr. Lacy Ballis, DMV, veterinarian at ZippiVet in Austin, Texas, to find out exactly what to do when you find worms in your dog’s poop.

Types of worms found in dog poop

First things first: What the heck are these pesky invaders anyway? According to Dr. Ballis, these worms are parasites. It’s a troubling fact in and of itself — but even more so when you take into account that many parasites are often too small to detect with human eyes. “Most of the time, you will not visualize an actual worm in your dog’s poop if they are infected with a fecal parasite, as most are microscopic.” Some of the most common worms include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms.

What do worms look like in dog poop?

If you do spy something white that looks either like a grain of rice or long strands of spaghetti hanging out in your dog’s poop, chances are your dog has a tapeworm. They’re one of the most common parasites a dog can get. Stomach-turning visuals aside (we’ll never be able to look at pasta the same way either), these pests, which can be fatal if left untreated, will usually be handled by a quick trip to your veterinarian, who will likely prescribe a deworming medicine. “Depending on what type of parasite your dog tested positive for, your veterinarian will prescribe an oral medication to clear the infection.”

Signs of worms in dogs poop

What about the worms that are too tiny to be seen? If you’re worried your dog might have worms without you knowing, don’t be. As tiny as these worms are, they’ll still make a big impact on your dog’s health. According to Dr. Ballis, “Changes in your dog’s poop such as runny stool, mucus or blood could be an indication of a parasitic infection.” Another major warning sign? Noticing your pet suddenly not gaining an appropriate amount of weight or losing a large amount of weight in a short period of time, despite no changes to diet or exercise. In these instances, Dr. Ballis always recommends going to the veterinarian, who will be able to run tests on your dog’s stool and see if worms or other factors are at play.

RELATED: Ringworm in dogs: symptoms and treatment

How do dogs get worms in their poop?

As alarming as a parasitic infection may be to loving dog parents, it’s also not anything to beat yourself up about. Your furry friend may have gotten the infection from a number of places, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been an irresponsible pet parent. “Depending on the type of worm your dog has, they could have gotten infected by ingesting feces from another infected dog, water sources (such as puddles or creeks) or exposure from high-traffic dog areas like a doggy day care, dog parks or boarding facilities,” Dr. Ballis says. “If your dog is a puppy, they could have been infected by their mother.”

That being said, even if you weren’t responsible for how your dog got infected with worms, you do still have responsibility to ensure your pet doesn’t infect anyone else. Dr. Ballis recommends keeping your dog away from other dogs (including in your own home) until they test negative for worms to avoid spreading the infection any further. It might mean your pet will have to spend some time away from the dog park, but luckily, walks are still safe — just as long as your dog doesn’t get in close contact with any other animals!

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The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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