Dog Sheds Live Worms: Causes & Treatment

If your dog is shedding live worms, this is a sign of an already acute worm infestation. This is not fatal to healthy adult dogs, but must be treated.

In this article you will learn how to recognize a worm infestation, how your veterinarian treats it and what measures you can take to protect your dog from worm infestation.

In a nutshell: Why is my dog excreting live worms?

Dogs are infested with roundworms, hookworms or tapeworms. If your dog excretes live worms, the infestation is already massive and immediate action must be taken.

Worm infestation should not be taken lightly and can be dangerous for puppies and senior dogs. You can reliably prevent this with regular deworming.

This is what to do now – treat a worm infection

If you suspect that your dog has an infestation of worms, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. There you can check which worm is plaguing your dog.

A stool sample, which you bring hygienically packed with you, is best suited for diagnosis. It is best to pick up the poop with a poop bag and store it in an odor-tight, sealed freezer bag.

Administer wormers

Dewormers are administered preventively or against a confirmed infestation. Choosing the right wormer is important because antiparasitics are only effective against certain types of worms.

You should therefore have every infestation examined by a veterinarian and only use the medication prescribed by her in the dose she has calculated for treatment.

You administer the wormer as a tablet, paste or spot-on preparation. You feed tablets and pastes orally. A dab of liverwurst, peanut butter or other treats that are tempting for the dog, to which you add the medication, has proven to be a good idea.


The herbal remedies recommended by some dog lovers should be used with caution. While some of them can actually relieve symptoms or limit an infestation, they never work against the entire worm infestation and thus only prolong the illness period.

Observe hygiene: avoid reinfection

As soon as there is a suspicion of worm infestation, you should remove your dog’s feces very carefully. In this way you avoid infecting other dogs and also protect yourself.

To be on the safe side, wear gloves even when using a poo bag and dispose of the bag safely in a garbage can. If your dog has diarrhea in the house, disinfect the droppings thoroughly.

You should also thoroughly and frequently clean all areas that come into contact with your dog’s anus: his basket and blankets, but also the floor he is sitting on. Wash textiles above 65 degrees to safely kill worms and eggs.

Since worms are also transmitted via fleas in rare cases, you should also check your dog for this infestation and treat it against fleas.


If your dog vomits or has diarrhea, he will need to drink more to keep from losing too much water. If necessary, encourage him to drink more by adding a few tablespoons of broth or milk to the water.

How long does the dog continue to shed worms after the dewormer?

The dewormer acts on the worms for 24 hours, killing them in the intestines or paralyzing them so that your dog can eliminate them completely. A single treatment is usually sufficient.

Worms can still be found in the faeces for up to 72 hours after the dewormer has been administered. If the drug only has a paralyzing effect, they may also move. However, this is normal and not a concern.

However, if worms that are still alive are passed well after 72 hours, your vet will arrange for a new stool examination after 4 weeks. If the infestation is still detectable, use the wormer a second time.

Other symptoms of worm infection

You often only recognize a worm infection late, when the worms have already hatched and populate your dog’s intestines. Your dog then excretes them as live worms and the infestation becomes visible.

Non-specific symptoms before are:

  • Vomit
  • diarrhea, also bloody
  • Itching of the anus relieved by “sledding” (rubbing the anus across the floor)
  • weight loss and stunted growth
  • bloated stomach
  • dull fur

Can a dog die from worms?

A healthy, adult dog can survive a worm infestation without consequences if treated promptly.

For puppies and older dogs, however, the deprivation of nutrients by the worms can be problematic or even fatal. Their immune systems cannot cope with the worms and lack the nutrients for healthy bodily function. Caution is therefore required here and rapid care is necessary.

If a worm infestation is left untreated, serious damage can develop in the long term. The dog can suffer from chronic intestinal inflammation or even an intestinal obstruction or suffer from anemia and jaundice.

Who are worms contagious to?

All dogs can become infected with worms. Puppies from a sick mother can even be infected in the womb or through breast milk.

Most dogs become infected by sniffing or eating the feces of an infested dog or other animal. The eggs in the feces get into the gastrointestinal tract and hatch there quickly.

Tapeworms are more commonly ingested by dogs by eating infested, raw meat. This happens when you don’t properly feed your dog raw meat or he hunts and eats infested animals.

Furthermore, roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms belong to the zoonoses, so they can be transmitted to humans. They are extremely harmful to the human organism and can lead to serious damage and even death. The treatment takes a long time and is uncomfortable.

How can worms be prevented?

The most important precautionary measure is to avoid reinfection. Dog waste should always be safely disposed of everywhere. This also applies in forest areas and on wide meadows. In this way, other dogs and other animals are well protected from infection.

You protect your own dog by regular deworming or faecal examinations. The frequency is determined by several factors:

  • outlet
  • nutrition
  • contact with other dogs

Dogs with lots of exercise options, which could hunt uncontrollably and eat feces, are at higher risk. Feeding raw meat and frequent contact with different dogs also increases the risk of becoming infected with worms.

Regular deworming

Normally wormers take place between four times a year and once a month. It is best to discuss the optimal interval for your dog with your veterinarian.

Whether a regular deworming or a regular faecal examination takes place is an individual decision. For some dog owners, the deworming is too severe an intervention in their dog’s intestinal flora, because some dogs react to the drug with a single diarrhea.

However, worming is safer in terms of treatment and diagnostics than stool testing. In this way, a worm infestation is counteracted directly, while the worms can hatch and lay new eggs until the faeces are examined.

In addition, there is always the possibility that no or hardly any worm eggs will be found in the stool sample and that an infestation will therefore go undetected – in extreme cases until the next examination in three months.

Deworming every four weeks is only recommended for dogs that are exposed to a very high risk of infection or for which an infestation would be life-threatening due to their state of health.

Dogs whose human contact person is immunosuppressed should also be given a wormer treatment every four weeks to be on the safe side.

Feed safely

Feeding raw meat should only be done after thorough information. Meat is only safe after heating (at least 65 degrees for at least 10 minutes) or freezing (-20 degrees for at least a week).

Even after that, an infestation with tapeworms cannot be ruled out, but the risk is reduced. In addition, a treatment against tapeworms should therefore be carried out every 6 weeks.

Protection measures against foreign travel

When traveling abroad, worm infection can happen quickly due to different hygiene conditions. Traveling to southern Europe in particular carries the risk of infection with heartworms. These are far more dangerous for dogs and humans than the native roundworms, hookworms or tapeworms.

Before traveling, it is therefore advisable to talk to the veterinarian about which vaccinations or precautionary measures are appropriate for the travel destination.

Protect puppies

Puppies receive their first deworming at 2 weeks of age. Then every 2 weeks there is another dose and the last one is given 2 weeks after weaning.

Lactating bitches receive their deworming when their puppies are first treated.

There is currently no approved drug for deworming pregnant bitches. However, some wormers show good results. Your veterinarian will decide on the treatment of a pregnant bitch with a massive infestation on a case-by-case basis.


A worm infestation is not only annoying for the dog, but can also harm him and also infect you. Since it is usually only noticed when your dog is already excreting live worms, it is important to act quickly.

The treatment is uncomplicated and only takes a day or two. Preventing worms is even easier and should be standard for your dog to live a healthy life.

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