The causes of dog worms can most often be attributed to their eating habits.  The fact is, dogs will eat nearly anything including feces.  In addition, many dogs clean themselves by licking which is another sure way for them to become worm infected.  Finally, dogs are susceptible to both dog flea infestations and mosquito bites and both of these can cause the dog to develop worms.

The worms that typically infest dogs are intestinal parasites.  The five most common are whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and heartworms.

What Causes Whipworms In Dogs?

If your dog eats worm-infested feces or steps in feces and then licks its paws, it can become infected with whipworms.  They can also be infected with these worms by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with whipworm eggs.  Your dog can even become infected with whipworm when it picks up worm-infested soil and then licks itself.

What Causes Hookworms In Dogs?

Hookworms can enter your dog directly through the skin on his feet, belly or whatever part of it is touching the ground.  Hookworm larvae can also gain entry to the dog by being present in soil that is picked up and then swallowed by the dog as it grooms itself.

Once the larvae become adults hookworms, they begin sucking blood from the wall of the dog’s intestine.

Nursing From An Infected Mother Dog Can Also Cause Hookworm in Dogs

Puppies are especially at risk for hookworms.  In fact many puppies are born with them.  This occurs when the mother dog has hookworms.  These worms can actually penetrate the mother dog’s uterus and infect the puppies when they are still in the embryonic stage.  Or, in some cases they become infected when nursing from the infected mother.  Infected puppies are commonly pale, weak and have long-standing iron deficiencies.  They may or may not have dog diarrhea.

If you are buying a puppy from a kennel or pet store, try to make sure that your puppy’s mother did not have hookworms.

What Causes Roundworms In Dogs?

Dogs can be infected with roundworms through normal grooming when they consume soil that is roundworm infected.  They can also pick up roundworms by consuming a prey animal – usually a rodent – that is carrying developing worms.  Finally, a dog can also become roundworm-infected when nursing from an infected mother dog.

What Causes Tapeworms In Dogs?

Tapeworms are also an intestinal parasite.  Tapeworms are different from roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms in that infection occurs as the result of consuming a flea.

Many people who never thought their dog had fleas discover that it does when they find tapeworms in the dog’s stool, coming out of its anus or, worse yet, lying on your sofa.

A tapeworm infestation occurs when the dog licks itself and ingests a tapeworm-infected flea.

Once inside the dog, the flea’s body is digested away and the young tapeworm is released.  It finds a nice spot to attach inside the dog and begins to grow segments.  When these segments become dry and flat, they look like grains of rice.

It generally takes about three weeks from the time the flea is swallowed to the time when tapeworm segments appear on the dog’s stool or its rear end.

What Causes Heartworm In Dogs?

Unlike intestinal worms, which usually cause the dog to just become sick, heartworms can literally kill your dog.  They are often called the invisible killer because it is difficult to diagnose them, and the dog will show no symptoms until the tiny heartworms, called microfilariae, reach their adult stage and become life threatening.

Heartworms infect your dog when it is bitten by a mosquito that has fed on another heartworm-infected dog.  The tiny heartworms called microfilariae are deposited on the dog’s skin.  Some 60-90 days later they penetrate the skin and enter an artery where they are then transported to its heart.

The problem is that this process can take as long as nine months and during this time the dog will show no symptoms.  In fact, the only way to diagnose heartworms is by a blood test to detect the microfilariae .  If you live in an area where mosquitoes are prevalent, be sure to have your vet administer this blood test when your dog has its annual checkup.  If the dog is infected, it can be treated before the microfilariae grow into their adult heartworm stage and began to clog the dog’s heart and lungs.

The Many Causes Of Dog Worms

As you can see, there are many causes of dog worms.  They can be caused by what your dog eats, by what it lies down in, by ingesting a flea or from a mosquito bite.

Knowing the causes of worms in dogs, you can now take the steps necessary to protect your dog from being infected with any of these parasites.

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