what worms can my dog get

What worms can my dog get?

If you’re easily grossed out, this might not be the blog for you…but here is our quick reference guide to the main gut worms which can affect your dog – from where they come from, to what they look like.

what worms can my dog get


Roundworms in dogs

Key Facts:

  • Toxocara is the most common roundworm, potentially affecting almost half a million dogs in the UK1,2
  • 1 adult female roundworm can produce a whopping 200,000 eggs a day! (And we thought fleas were prolific egg layers!)
What do dog roundworms look like?

Resembling strands of spaghetti, adult Toxocara roundworms are whiteish brown in colour and 4-10cm long, although you’re unlikely to see them, as they hang out in your dog’s guts. Sometimes you’ll see them in your dog’s poop though, especially after worming.

what worms can my dog get


How does my dog get roundworm?

It’s not a nice thought but these gruesome beasties can infect puppies before they are even born. The larvae of Toxocara canis are able to pass from Mum to her pups via the placenta. And, as a double whammy, the larvae also find their way into Mum’s milk. So not only are most pups born with worms already on board, they continue to be infected every time they feed.  This is why a good worming programme for pregnant bitches and puppies is so vital.   


Your dog can also pick up roundworms when snuffling out and about in their normal daily routine. Infective eggs lurk in soil, having been pooped out by other infected dogs and foxes – surviving for years in the right conditions. Scarily, a recent study found that 86.6% of parks in the UK and Ireland tested positive for Toxocara spp. eggs!4 Roundworm larvae can also be found in small mammals and birds, so if you have a hunter or a scavenger, this can be another source of infection.

what worms can my dog get


What symptoms do roundworms cause in dogs?

These wriggling beasties can cause serious issues for puppies, from vomiting, diarrhoea and a pot belly, through to a life-threatening gut obstruction. In older dogs, you may not see any symptoms, but your dog will be shedding eggs in their poop, which puts your family at risk.


Can dog roundworms infect humans?

Unfortunately, yes they can, and it is thought that one-quarter of the UK and Irish population have been exposed to Toxocara spp.4 Although the long-term impact of Toxocara in people isn’t fully known, it has been linked with blindness, epilepsy, cognitive development delays in children, and asthma4 – children, the elderly and immunosuppressed are most at risk.


This is why you should always pick up your dog’s poop! It is also recommended, by the experts at the European Scientific Counsel for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP), that dogs living with these groups should be wormed monthly. It takes time for the infective life stages of worms to develop into adults, so monthly treatment means that the worms don’t get a chance to start producing eggs, reducing the health threat to your dog, as well as your family and friends.


Tapeworms in dogs

Key Facts: 

  • Can grow to be a real beast inside your fur baby…the most common species found in dogs, Dipylidium caninum, can reach up to 70cm in length5
  • Tapeworms are made up of little segments (look like grains of rice), which get shed …these can be seen ‘crawling’ around your pet’s back end or on their bed (vomit-inducing, right?!) and contain egg packets – GROSS

what worms can my dog get


What do dog tapeworms look like?

The most common, D. caninum, can grow to be VERY long inside your dog’s gut, however, you’ll usually just see the ‘grains of rice’ segments crawling around.


How does my dog get tapeworm?

D. caninum is also known as the flea tapeworm as your dog becomes infected when they eat fleas (yep, those pesky little blighters again!) which are carrying tapeworm eggs. You may not think your pooch would eat a flea, but it’s actually pretty easily done when you lick and nibble to groom yourself, which your pooch will be doing more than ever if that are super itchy with fleas! So, flea prevention also plays an important role in D. caninum control.

Your dog can pick up other types of tapeworm if they hunt, scavenge or eat raw meat and offal.

what worms can my dog get


What symptoms do tapeworms cause in dogs?

Tapeworms often won’t cause any symptoms in your dog, although you may see the gross little segments crawling around.


Can dog tapeworms infect humans?

Yes, the tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus can cause serious disease in people – leading to cysts in the lungs and liver.


Hookworms in dogs

Key Facts:

  • Can burrow through the skin of your pet’s feet to infect them! (Another horror movie-esque moment…)
  • Can lurk in your pet’s intestine for up to 2 years!6


How does my dog get hookworm?

Your pooch can become infected by eating hookworm larvae, which live in eggs in the soil. These little horrors can also directly penetrate your pet’s paws. Like roundworms, hookworms can also pass from Mum to puppies through the placenta or milk.


What symptoms do hookworms cause in dogs?

As these horrible beasts latch onto the lining of your dog’s guts and feed on blood, they can cause blood loss, as well as diarrhoea and weight loss. In severe infections, the blood loss can be significant, and in puppies even fatal.

what worms can my dog get


Can dog hookworms infect humans?

The larvae can burrow into your feet too, although thankfully this is rare!


Whipworms in dogs

Key Facts:

  • Whipworms bury themselves into the lining of your pet’s gut, causing inflammation – ouch!


How does my dog get whipworm?

Dogs can pick up whipworms by eating infective eggs, which are in the soil.

what worms can my dog get


What symptoms do whipworms cause in dogs?

If your poor pooch has a heavy infection, you may see bloody diarrhoea, weight loss and signs of blood loss.


Treating intestinal worms in dogs

So, as you can see, these little blightes get everywhere and are pretty easy for your four-legged friend to pick up in their normal daily lives. ‘Prazitel Plus tablets for dogs’ kill all types of intestinal worms that affect UK dogs, in a tasty chew. As no treatment can prevent your pooch from picking up these horrors, regular treatment is key to protecting both your canine and human family. To find out more, check out ‘Dog worms – all you need to know about treating them!’.

treat my dog for worms



  1. Wright I, Stafford K et al. The prevalence of intestinal nematodes in cats and dogs from Lancashire, North-west England. Journal of Small Animal Practice (2016) 57, 393–395
  2. PFMA data, 9 million dogs in the UK, 7.5 million cats –
  3. Khoshsima-Shahraki M, Dabirzadeh M, Azizi H, Khedri J, Djahed B, Neshat AA. Seroepidemiology of Toxocara canis in Children under 14 Years Referring to Laboratories of Sistan and Baluchestan Province in Southeast of Iran. Iran J Parasitol. 2019;14(1):89-94.
  4. Airs, Paul M et al. “WormWatch: Park soil surveillance reveals extensive Toxocara contamination across the UK and Ireland.” The Veterinary record vol. 192,1 (2023): e2341. doi:10.1002/vetr.2341