What are the different types of intestinal worms in dogs?
There are four common types of intestinal worms in dogs, they are: roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. The symptoms of each type of worm vary, as does the way in which dogs can be infected.
Roundworm in dogs
There are two species of roundworm which can affect dogs, toxocara canis and toxascaris leonin. Both are long, white and spaghetti-like in appearance and absorb nutrients from the infected dog.
Roundworm larvae will initially infect a dog’s intestinal tract, but can burrow their way into other bodily tissues and organs. As toxocara canis larvae mature, they will move onto the lungs to develop and then then up to the airway before being coughed up and swallowed again, re-entering the intestine to complete their lifecycle. Toxascaris leonina do not move around the body and have a far simpler lifecycle.
Hookworm in dogs
Hookworms are short, blood sucking parasites with teeth. They can be fatal in young puppies, due to the amount of nutrients they strip from the dog. They are not common in the UK but they are present in Europe. Hookworms have a very similar lifecycle to the toxocara canis roundworm, moving about the body and into the lungs to mature before re-entering the intestine.
Whipworms in dogs
Whipworms live in the large intestine and don’t extract as many nutrients as other types of worms. Unless the worms burrow into the intestinal tissue, they pose few problems and rarely cause symptoms. They do occur in the UK but aren’t common.
Tapeworm in dogs
Tapeworms live in the small intestine, grabbing on to its wall with six tiny rows of teeth to absorb nutrients as food is digested. They are long – half a foot or more in length – and flat in appearance. Unless the dog is extremely active, the parasite does not harm the pet, as there are plenty of nutrients to serve both host and tapeworm. When excreted, the worm normally splits into segments which look like small grains of rice.