Controlling Roundworm, Tapeworm and Hookworm in Dogs

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By Tess Thompson

It is extremely essential to control canine and feline parasites since they inhabit the intestines and can cause problems if not eliminated in time. Roundworms can block the intestinal passage by sheer numbers. Hookworm infection causes severe anemia followed by loss of iron and protein in the stomach.

A proper understanding of symptoms of worms in dogs is necessary for proper treatment of worms in dogs. However, it is imperative that a thorough understanding of the worm’s life cycle be understood to be able to avoid and control it better.


One female roundworm can lay up to two hundred thousand eggs in a single day. Most of the eggs pass out of the body through feces but some eggs stay inside the body. A larva develops inside the egg shell and cannot infect the dog until it reaches the second stage. This takes about a week.

A dog can get infected by consuming roundworm eggs that stick to the fur or feet. Once inside the stomach, the shell is digested. Roundworms have a complex migratory life that involves expulsion once again through vomiting. Dogs consume the discharged larva along with the vomit during the third stage.

Any attempt at controlling roundworm population must keep in mind that roundworm eggs are immune to dryness and disinfectants. Roundworms can also pass on to puppies from their mothers while they are in the womb or later during nursing. Controlling roundworms should involve:

  • Collecting and destroying the feces - This does not allow the eggs to reach the infective third stage.
  • De-worming the bitches at weekly intervals, before mating until the time the puppies are weaned - This prevents any infection from passing on to the young ones.
  • Eliminating dirt from wounds or yards as roundworms can survive for long periods in dirt
  • Regular worming of pups and older dogs


Hookworms are smaller than roundworms. They are also less mobile inside the body as compared to roundworms. Further, getting infested with hookworm is not as easy as with a roundworm. Hookworm larvae need a typical combination of temperature, humidity and shade to grow. They can also be passed on through mother’s milk.

Hookworms cling to the walls of the small intestines and damage mucosa. They are voracious blood suckers. Due to their blood sucking tendencies, hookworms are very dangerous intestinal worms that can develop very fast in spite of treatment.

Some practical steps can prove very effective in controlling hookworms:

  • Keep the yard and dog’s wounds free from dirt, water and shade as much as possible
  • Both dogs and larvae like shade, and the larvae can burrow into the skin if the dog is lying in shade
  • If dirt cannot be avoided, try to dilute the dirt by making the dirt area larger
  • From birth to twelve weeks, pups should be wormed at weekly intervals
  • Older dogs should be wormed every three months


Dog tapeworm can be of two types - flea tapeworm and hydatid tapeworm. Tapeworms have numerous segments and can be seen in the feces as melon-like seeds. Flea tapeworm is large and can be as long as 20 inches. A hydatid tapeworm is small and cannot be seen in the dog’s feces with the naked eye.

The lifecycle of dog tapeworms is different from other worms in dogs. Segments that break off from the worm are excreted full of fertile eggs. These eggs must go through a developmental stage in an intermediate host to be able to infect another host.

Dog tapeworm can be controlled by taking a few simple steps:

  • Provide proper flea control
  • Ensure that your dog is de-wormed regularly - The treatment that tapeworms require is different from other worms, so they should be attended to differently.
  • Avoid feeding raw offal (waste parts of a butchered animal often considered inedible by humans) - If this is not possible, then properly cooked offal can be fed.


Intestinal parasites can infect humans, too. Hookworms are thought to infect 800 million people worldwide. Roundworm larvae can burrow in human tissue in the same fashion as in dogs. While outdoors, remember that quite a lot of park soil may contain worm eggs and nearly half of urban dogs are infested with worms. Keep children away from such risks.

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