Worried About Puppy Worms?

Puppy with worms - illustration

Puppy worms are nasty little critters who come in lots of different shapes and sizes.

They can be transmitted in different ways too.

Although mostly a problem for your puppy, it is possible for little Fido to pass some types of worms on to his humans, especially children.

Most often it's Roundworms, Tapeworms or Hookworms that are transmitted to the human family members. Usually indirectly through their eggs or from the soil.

Your pup can catch worms from eating the poop of another pup/dog who has them. 

Much less common, but still possible is that he gets them from eating raw or uncooked meat or fish.

Most newborn puppies have at least a few roundworms which they get from their momma while in the womb, or through her milk when they nurse.

Because puppies often often don't show any symptoms during the early stages of a worm infestation, it's especially important to make sure that your little guy (or girl) is routinely treated with a reliable dog worm medicine several times.

This is often done at the same time as his vaccinations and routine health puppy health checks - starting at about 3 weeks old (the breeders's responsibility) and followed up at least at both the 8 and 12 week appointments.

The good news is that it's easy to treat worms in puppies, but the bad news is that if left untreated just a few of them can turn into a major infestation surprisingly quickly... and lead to some serious health problems.

About Puppy Worms

Worms steal all the nutrition that should be going to your puppy.

They also multiply and grow rapidly, and a few puppy worms can turn into quite an army in a pretty short space of time!

If you bought your puppy from a responsible breeder they will most likely have started him on a schedule of de-worming several weeks before ago.

Abandoned, neglected or puppy-mill/back-yard-breeder puppies are most likely going to be starting from 'scratch'.

Here's a quick look at the types of puppy worms you're most likely to find.....


Roundworms are the most common type of dog worms and are often transmitted from mother to puppy.

In puppies, symptoms of a roundworm problem can include a thin, scrawny (or skinny) appearance but often the puppy also has a round, distended tummy.

A dull, coarse and out-of-condition coat is another sign.

Roundworms can usually be easily seen in your puppy's stools, and if he has a lot of roundworms he may even vomit, cough or have frequent diarrhea.... sometimes even coughing up worms. Not nice.

These worms can be 'caught' by people too and children are especially at risk as they're not known for their effective hand washing techniques!

So, do make sure that your family always washes their hands after playing with, or handling, your new pup.

Although you can buy over-the-counter worm medicines at many pet stores or superstores, many of them are ineffective and can even be dangerous.

In most cases it's best to have your veterinarian deworm your puppy, or prescribe medication for you to give him at home.

But there are a few medications that kill dog worms which you can buy and use yourself.

One of these that I can recommend using is Panacur C - Canine Dewormer because it's both safe and effective and you don't need a prescription..

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Another common type of worm, tapeworm, is spread by fleas. The worms are then shed in your puppy's feces... these are usually in segments which look a lot like single grains of white rice.

If you check your puppy's poop you will most likely be able to tell whether or not he has tapeworms.

However, the definitive test needs to be done at your veterinarians office, where they can prescribe the right medication to fix the problem.

The most common tapeworms are not easily transmitted, or dangerous to, people.

But there is a variety that can cause serious health problems and even death in humans so again, good hygiene is a MUST.

Treating your puppy with an effective topical flea preventative is very effective in protecting both your puppy, and your family, from this type of puppy worms.


These are more common in dogs than most people think, perhaps because they're often difficult to detect.

Your pup is at risk of catching whipworms if he eats something that's been in contact with contaminated soil or feces.

To treat a case of whipworms effectively, the right medication needs to be given, and then repeated at specific intervals in order to get rid of all the worms who are at different stages of development.


There are four kinds of hookworm and unfortunately the most common one (which prefers a warm climate) is the most dangerous. Transmitted through feces, the hookworm thrives in warm soil and is contracted when the larvae penetrates the skin of it's host (aka your puppy/dog!).

People can get hookworms too and it's best not to walk barefoot in the yard or parks where dogs eliminate.

Hookworms can be fatal in young puppies and can cause severe anemia due to internal blood loss, diarrhea or pneumonia in older pups.

Your veterinarian is the best person to diagnose and treat this parasitic infection. A regular heartworm preventative such as Heartgard can also prevent or control a hookworm infestation.


Heartworms are the most dangerous type of worms.

As the name suggests it isn't an intestinal worm, but one that attacks the heart.... and it's always serious, and often fatal. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes.

As it isn't easy to detect in the early stages, regular tests by your veterinarian (often yearly) for these parasites are recommended.

Treatment for heartworms is long, complicated and expensive so this is definitely a case where effective prevention is MUCH BETTER than the cure.

See my Canine Heartworm page for all the information and advice you need to keep your precious pup safe from this dangerous disease.

I highly recommend giving your puppy a monthly, preventative medication (such as Heartgard Plus) but you should always check with your own veterinarian before giving your puppy any kind of medication.

Here's a short video that summarizes the whole puppy worm situation pretty well. I think you'll find it helpful....

TIP: Use a monthly medication such as Frontline Plus or K9 Advantix because by eliminating external parasites such as fleas and ticks you can reduce the chances of your pup getting worms transmitted by these external parasites.

You can learn more about external parasites on my Fleas and Ticks page, and get all the information you need to choose the right flea/tick preventative and treatment on my Flea Medicine For Dogs page.

Dog Worms In Humans

When a person contracts dog worms the condition is called Toxocariasis.

Children are much more likely to find themselves playing host to these parasites than adults are.

Roundworms and tapeworms are usually ingested (yes this sounds horrible!) but this is because kids are likely to touch stuff that adults won't and then put their hands into their mouths.

Plus they don't think to wash their hands in the same way.

Hookworms can burrow through human skin and as they tend to be in the soil as well as in feces, if a child is running around barefoot or spending a lot of time digging in the dirt, they are at risk.

When worms that are normally found in one species, infect another, often the symptoms are quite different.

Fever, cough, swollen lymph nodes, stomach ache or a rash are the most common signs of worms in children.

But swelling around the eye, eye inflammation or vision changes can also occur.

Of course, these symptoms can also be caused by a lot of other illnesses and diseases, and kids are well-known for the number of 'bugs' they can bring home. 

But if you have a puppy, dog, cat or kitten that your child plays with regularly, who hasn't been properly (or regularly) treated for worms, and your child shows any of the above symptoms and tests negative for other illnesses, a parasite problem isn't out of the question.

Luckily, your doctor can diagnose a worm problem and treat it with the correct medication fairly easily. BUT the sooner the better to avoid potentially dangerous consequences.

One last thing... I'd just like to make it clear that not ALL worms that children can get are not necessarily 'caught' from the family pet.

There's an intestinal worm called a 'Pinworm' (or sometimes a 'Threadworm') which is surprisingly common in children.

Humans are this parasites natural host and they don't pose the same dangers that dog worms do in people.

But of course, it's something you need to deal with should your child catch them!

Pinworms are tiny (only a couple of millimeters long, and very narrow), and their eggs are even smaller. 

The symptoms of a Pinworm infestation are usually soreness and itching around the anus because the worms lay their eggs right there. 

A child scratching at an itchy bottom and then touching their fingers to their face/mouth, can start the whole cycle all over again. These tiny eggs also cling to underwear, clothing, bedding and so on.

Luckily, treatment is simple with the right medication from your doctor.

Related pages...........

Find out why you need this puppy health handbook

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