Intestinal Parasites in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Intestinal Parasites in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Intestinal Parasites in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Intestinal Parasites?

Intestinal parasites do not affect only certain breeds, all dogs are susceptible. Hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, giardia and coccidia are some of the more prevalent intestinal parasites that dogs can get.

It is common for your dog to become infected with an intestinal parasite at some point. There are numerous intestinal parasites that can afflict your dog, which is why regular fecal exams by your veterinarian will hopefully catch any infestation before it becomes serious or even life threatening. Some intestinal parasites can also be transmitted to humans, so early detection and careful handling of your dog’s feces is important.

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Intestinal Parasites Average Cost

From 481 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

Symptoms of Intestinal Parasites in Dogs

Most intestinal parasites do not show symptoms until the infestation has become severe. This is why preventative care and regular fecal exams are important to catch the infestation in its early stages. If you notice any of these symptoms, collect a stool sample from your dog and have your veterinarian check for any parasites.

Hookworms will attach to the wall of the stomach and puncture blood vessels to feed on the blood. Hookworms can be transmitted to humans.

  • Poor growth in puppies
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark, tarry stools
  • Anemia

Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasites in dogs. Almost all dogs will have an infestation of roundworms at some point in their lifetime. Roundworms can be transmitted to humans.

  • Diarrhea with mucus
  • Poor growth in puppies
  • Distended or swollen abdomen
  • Worms visible in feces
  • Vomiting worms
  • Coat is lackluster

Tapeworms are flat, segmented worms that are found within the intestine. The segments of a tapeworm can become independent worms. Some types of tapeworms can be transmitted to humans.

  • Malaise
  • Irritability
  • Failure to digest food or absorb nutrients
  • Diarrhea 
  • Emaciation
  • Variable appetite
  • Shaggy coat
  • Worms or segments visible in the feces

Giardia is a one-celled parasitic organism that takes up residence in the small intestine. It is not a worm, bacteria or virus. Humans and dogs can contract giardia and easily transmit it back and forth.

  • Diarrhea
  • Poor condition
  • Weight loss
  • Death

Coccidia are one-celled organisms that causes an intestinal tract infection. The most common type of coccidia found in dogs cannot be easily transmitted to humans. Other less common types can be transmitted to humans.

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Death
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Causes of Intestinal Parasites in Dogs

Causes of intestinal parasites in dogs will vary depending on the type of parasite that has been identified. Your veterinarian can help you identify the source of the intestinal parasite once it has been classified.

Hookworm

  • Eating infective larvae
  • Transmission during nursing
  • Direct skin penetration

Roundworm

  • Passed from mother to puppies in utero
  • Transmission during nursing
  • Ingestion of larvae
  • Through contact with infected feces

Tapeworm

  • Eating infected prey animals
  • Fleas

Giardia

  • Dirty drinking water
  • Eating feces

Coccidia

  • Swallowing contaminated soil
  • Eating contaminated feces
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Diagnosis of Intestinal Parasites in Dogs

Your veterinarian can diagnose most intestinal parasites by examining a stool sample under a microscope. The number of eggs or larvae present in the stool sample will give your veterinarian an idea of how severe the infestation is. The actual parasite will also be identified.

Once your veterinarian has determined that your dog has an intestinal parasite infection, a treatment plan will follow.

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Treatment of Intestinal Parasites in Dogs

Treatment will vary depending on the severity of the infestation and the type of parasite. Always follow the prescribed treatment plan exactly and take proper precautions to keep from becoming infested with the intestinal parasite.

Hookworm

Prescription oral medications will be used to eliminate adult hookworms. The treatment plan must be repeated several times to ensure that all hookworms have been expelled. A fecal exam during each follow-up visit will help your veterinarian in determining how effective each treatment has been.

Be sure to remove all feces from your yard immediately following your dog’s defecation to keep soil contamination to a minimum. Place feces into a plastic bag, seal and throw in the trash. Wash all bedding that your dog has had contact. Always use gloves when handling feces or contaminated bedding. 

Roundworm

Most puppies will have been put on a schedule of anti-parasitic medications that remove roundworm infestations by their breeder. Once your dog is old enough for heartworm preventatives, ask your veterinarian about a medication that also controls intestinal roundworm infections.

Remove all feces from your yard daily. Use gloves and put feces in a plastic bag to keep contamination to a minimum. 

Tapeworm

Anti-parasitic medications will be given either orally or by injection. These medications cause the tapeworm to dissolve in the intestines so a follow-up fecal exam will be necessary to determine if the infestation has been resolved.

Giardia

Giardia can be difficult to eradicate, and different medications might be prescribed.  Follow-up fecal tests and treatments may be required depending upon the severity of the infection. If your dog is severely dehydrated, IV support may be required as well as other medications given by injection.

Wash your dog’s water bowl daily and give fresh water several times a day. Wash any bedding that your dog has come into contact.

Coccidia

 Anti-parasitic medication as well as oral antibiotic may be prescribed. Your veterinarian will perform a follow-up fecal exam. Additional medications may be required. 

If your dog is severely dehydrated, IV support may be required. Anti-diarrhea medication may also be administered if your dog is suffering from severe diarrhea. Remove all feces from your yard daily. Use gloves and put feces in a plastic bag to keep contamination to a minimum.

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Worried about the cost of Intestinal Parasites treatment?

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Recovery of Intestinal Parasites in Dogs

Treatment and prevention are keys to keeping your dog free of intestinal parasites. Request a fecal exam with every visit to your veterinarian so intestinal parasites can be found and treated before a severe infestation can occur. By treating a slight infestation of intestinal parasites, a quick recovery can be assured. If the infestation becomes severe, it will take your dog longer to recover once treatments have begun.

Follow your veterinarian’s treatment plan and always use medications as directed. Make sure that a fecal exam is completed at your dog’s follow-up visit to ensure that the intestinal parasites have been eradicated. Additional treatments may be needed to completely get rid of the intestinal parasites.

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Intestinal Parasites Average Cost

From 481 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

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Intestinal Parasites Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Pit Bull

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5 years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea, Difficulty Walking,Emaciation,Not Eating

My dog had intestinal parasites, and worms. I don't have the money to take her to thr vet. I know what to give her for the worms. But the intestinal parasites are killing her. Please help. I dont think there's much time left

Jan. 13, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Maureen M. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hi, Worms and intestinal parasites are one and the same thing. Once you deworm her, it will get rid of the worms/parasites. Goodday

Jan. 13, 2021

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Daisy

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Labrador Retriever

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8 Months

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Worms In Stool

We recently rescued an 8 month old lab. We did not have any indication she had ever been to e vet so we took her wednesday morning. She recieved exam, distemper and rabies shot, bordetella shot, had a negative fecal test and was given heart gard and nexgard. Thursday evening during our walk she had two different stools that little whit flat worms in them. I also found the same looking worms in her kennel as well and ones that looked like rice. I took the samples to the vet friday morning and they said she has no intestinal parasites. So what is in her poop?

July 27, 2018

Daisy's Owner

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0 Recommendations

It does sounds like Daisy has some worms, sometimes a faecal floatation test may be negative which is why we normally repeat them in suspected cases of worms to be on the safe side. Without looking at the worms and proglottids (rice segments) I cannot say whether they are definitely worms or not. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 28, 2018

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Intestinal Parasites Average Cost

From 481 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

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