Have you ever gone to pick up your dog’s poop and noticed something wiggling around in there? While worms can look like something out of a horror movie, they are fairly commonplace among dogs. Dogs often get worms from eating infected feces, soil, water or carrion. Puppies can get worms from their mother as worms can penetrate the uterus to unborn puppies or can be spread through the mother’s milk. Not only are worms gross, they can also cause harm to your pet and therefore must be treated quickly. Fortunately, there are many natural ways to rid your dog of worms!
TYPES OF WORMS:
Roundworms: There are two species of roundworms that commonly affect dogs: Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonine. They are long, white and spaghetti-like and absorb nutrients from the infected dog. These worms are visible in your dog’s poop. They initially infect the intestinal tract and then bury their way into other organs and tissues. Eventually, Toxocara canis make their way into the lungs and then airways where they are coughed up and swallowed again, re-entering the intestine to complete their life cycle.
Hookworms: Are short, blood sucking parasites with teeth. They can be fatal in puppies due to the amount of nutrients they strip from the dog. Hookworms have a similar lifecycle to Toxocara canis roundworm, moving throughout the body, to the lungs before re-entering the GI tract. These are not visible in your dog’s stool.
Whipworms: Live in the large intestines and attach to the colon walls to feed on your dog’s blood. These worms are not visible in the stool unless they are passed in a clump. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss. Your dog can get whipworms from swallowing eggs in soil, water or other places that may contain dog feces.
Tapeworms: Live in the small intestine, attaching to the wall with its tiny six rows of teeth to absorb nutrients of food. They are flat and can be as long as a half foot or more. When excreted, the worm usually splits into small fragments and presents as small grains of rice in the stool. Your dog can get tapeworms from licking fleas off themselves or from eating infected animal carcasses or meat.
- Swollen abdomen
- Weight loss
- Cough (hookworm and roundworm infections)
While roundworms and tapeworms are visible in the stool, hookworms and whipworms are not. Therefore if your dog has any of the symptoms above, whether or not they present with worms in the stool, they should have a fecal test done.
Fun Fact: If you need to get a fecal test done to confirm the presence of worms, try to do it around a full moon. This is when parasites shed their eggs the most.
PREVENTION & TREATMENT:
Fed a fresh, whole food diet: Kibble fed dogs are more susceptible to worms because worms enjoy eating the starch and sugar found in kibble.
Fermented veggies, coconut or milk kefir: Fermented food lowers the acidity of your dog’s body making it an unfavorable environment for worms.
Pumpkin seeds: The grit and fibre help move the worms out of the GI tract. Grind seeds before feeding.
Fresh vegetables: Grated carrots, watercress, greens, squash, fennel, cucumber. The fibre contained in these veggies helps move the worms out of the GI tract.
Pineapple: Contains bromelain, an enzyme that digests proteins. (include the stems)
Papaya: Contains papain, another enzyme to treat worms.
Pomegranate: Treats tapeworms.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Creates a more acidic environment that’s less hospitable for parasites.
Coconut oil: Facilitate removing the worms from the digestive system.
Bone Broth: Promotes digestive health and boosts the immune system. Especially effective around the full moon when parasites shed their eggs most.