How Do Puppies Get Worms?

As with a child, keeping a puppy safe and healthy is a full-time job. For example, you need to protect a puppy from many things, including itself. That’s because puppies get into all sorts of stuff, especially when their new puppy parents aren’t looking. Some of those things won’t be a problem, but some could potentially hurt them. 

Protecting puppies from things we can see and touch is one thing, but there’s something else that can hurt them you’ll rarely see or know about while it’s happening; worms. Gross, nasty little critters, several types of worms can cause dire harm to your puppy.

I know because I’ve seen several of my pups get worms over the years. (It’s not a pretty sight.) Thinking about those poor pups and what they went through led me to a question many of you ask me all the time; how do puppies get worms?

The answer is that puppies get worms from various sources and situations. Eating grass that’s been defecated (pooped) on by a dog with worms is one of the most common ways. They can also get them from other animals like dead birds, grooming themselves, and even their own mother. Mosquito bites are also one of the more common ways for a puppy to become infected with worms.

There are different kinds of worms, also, and they cause various health problems and symptoms. All of them, however, are harmful to your puppy, so avoiding situations where they can be passed to your pup is essential, as well as knowing what to do if they get infested with worms.

Now that you know (more or less) how puppies get worms, I’m guessing you have many more questions about the types of worms that can harm your puppy and how to get rid of them. If so, please keep reading! I’ve got the answers to those questions and several more for you below.

How do Puppies get Roundworms? 

The most common type of worm found in puppies is the parasitic roundworm. Indeed, it’s almost inevitable that your puppy or dog will be infected with roundworms at one time or another, but it’s usually when they are puppies. The way puppies get roundworms can vary, making it hard to prevent them from getting roundworms and making it easy for roundworms to spread.

Unfortunately, many puppies are born infected with roundworms because their mother has them and passes them to their puppies while they are still developing in her womb. Even if that doesn’t happen, a puppy can still get roundworms from its mother through drinking her milk.

Another way puppies get roundworms is when they eat (or put in their mouth on) a small mammal like a mouse, squirrel, or kitten. Often, small mammals like this can have roundworm larvae present either on their fur or their own bodies.

How do Puppies get Hookworms? 

Dogs love sniffing around in warm, moist environments. Unfortunately, this is also the type of environment that hookworms love the most. That makes it much easier for your puppy to get hookworms if they sniff around in grass or dirt outside your home.

There are typically four ways that a puppy or dog can get hookworms. That includes orally (through their mouth), through their skin, before being born from their mother, and also through their mother’s milk (similar to how they get roundworms).

Sniffing another dog’s feces is one of the most common ways for your puppy to get hookworms. That’s because female hookworms pass hundreds of their eggs into the feces of infected dogs. Once a dog has defecated, the eggs hatch, and, unfortunately, we’ll stay alive in the grass or soil for weeks and sometimes even months.

If your puppy walks through feces from an infected dog and then, for example, grooms its feet, they can get hookworms that way. And, as I already mentioned, they can even get it simply from sniffing the poop of an infected dog or sniffing the soil where a dog that’s infected has already pooped.

How do Puppies get Heartworms?

Just as mosquitoes are bad for humans, they are just as bad for puppies and dogs. That’s because heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites. Heartworms from an infected dog can be transferred to other dogs through mosquito bites. 

The worst part is that heartworms can live from 5 to 7 years in an adult dog. During that time, the infected dog can pass their heartworms to other dogs every time a mosquito bites them and then bites another dog. 

If you also have cats in your home, one thing to keep in mind is that they can get heartworms the same way; through mosquito bites.  More importantly, since the heartworm treatment for dogs can’t be used on cats, medication to prevent your cat from getting heartworms is essential. 

What Are the Symptoms that Your Puppy Has Worms?

Knowing how to detect that your puppy has worms is vital so that you can take appropriate steps to get them treated.  A strong case of worms can cause a wide variety of different symptoms, which include:

  • Blood and mucus that you can see in their feces.
  • Their abdomen is swollen or distended.
  • They’re vomiting and having diarrhea frequently (and sometimes severely).
  • Their fur may become brittle, lifeless, and dull.
  • Your puppy may have an ongoing and occasionally excessive cough.
  • They lose their appetite or go through a dramatic weight change, usually losing weight rapidly.
  • You can often see worms around their anus or in their feces.

How to Prevent Your Puppy from Getting Worms

The good news about puppies and worms is that there are several things you can do to prevent them from getting worms in the first place. Below are a few of the best preventative measures, including:

  • Using flea collars, dips, and other methods to eliminate fleas and ticks. These tiny parasites have a nasty habit of transmitting worms from one animal to another. 
  • Make sure to clean up any feces that your dog creates immediately and place it in the garbage where they can’t get to it. (Sniffing, touching, or licking feces is one of the easiest ways of passing worms from one dog to another.)
  • Take preventative measures to reduce the rodent population around your home. Mice and rats also have worms that they can transmit to your dog, and they have fleas and ticks that can do the same.
  • When possible, take steps to reduce the number of mosquitoes in and around your yard. As I discussed earlier, mosquitoes can pass heartworms to your puppy quite easily.
  • If you feed your puppy a raw meat diet, make sure to purchase it from a reliable source. Even better, cook any meat you want to give to your puppy so that you will destroy any worm larvae in it.

How Do You Get Rid of Worms in a Puppy?

If you suspect that your puppy has worms of one type or another, the first thing you need to do is go to your veterinarian. That way, your vet can discover the specific type of worm affecting your pup. 

Once your veterinarian has detected the type of worm, they will develop a specific treatment regimen that usually includes deworming medication. In some cases, your puppy might also need to be hospitalized for deworming treatments and observation, although this is typically for severe cases of worms only.

Final Thoughts

How do puppies get worms? As we’ve seen today, there are several different ways that your precious puppy can become infected with nasty, unhealthy worms. From sniffing or licking an infected dog’s feces to mosquito bites, touching or eating infected mammals, and even from their own mother, the ways a puppy can get infected with worms are relatively numerous.

At this point, I usually like to ask if you enjoyed today’s blog but, for many, it might have been a bit disturbing. (Worms are just so darn gross!)  However, I hope that today’s blog gave you the answers you were looking for and provided vital information you can use to prevent your precious pup from getting infected with nasty worms.

Please see my other blogs if you have more questions about puppies and worms or anything else about being a new puppy parent. I’ve got quite a few of them, and they’re all packed with valuable, real-world information and advice. It’s information that can help you raise your precious puppy into a healthy, happy, and well-adjusted adult dog who adds life and love to your family.