How Long Can a Dog Have Worms Before It Dies?

how long can a dog have worms before it dies

Welcome to this easy-to-understand article on the topic of “How long can a dog have worms before it dies.” As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to know about worm infestations in dogs and the risks they pose to their health.

In this article, we’ll explore worms, how they affect dogs, and what you can do to keep your furry friend healthy. Let’s start our journey and find answers to your questions.

What are Worms and How Do Dogs Get Infected?

dog dealing with worms

Worms are internal parasites that can live inside a dog’s body, specifically in its intestines. The most common types of worms that affect dogs are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Dogs can get infected with worms through various sources, including:

  • Ingesting contaminated soil or water.
  • Consuming infected animals, such as rodents or fleas.
  • Passing worms from an infected mother to her puppies during pregnancy or through nursing.

How Long Can a Dog Have Worms Before It Dies?

dog have worms

If left untreated, worm infestations in dogs can be serious and even fatal. The time it takes for worms to cause death depends on factors like the type of worms, the dog’s health, and how quickly it’s treated.

Some worms can cause severe damage quickly, while others take longer to become dangerous. Detecting worms early and getting treatment promptly is essential to save your dog’s life.

The Different Types of Worms in Dogs

how long can a dog have worms before it dies

Before we talk about the risks of worm infestation, let’s learn about the different types of worms that commonly affect dogs. Understanding their characteristics and symptoms will help you identify and address the issue promptly.


These are common parasites found in dogs’ intestines. They look like long spaghetti and can grow several inches in length. Puppies can get roundworms from their mother, while adult dogs can get them from contaminated soil or feces.

Symptoms include a pot-bellied appearance, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and a dull coat.


These are small parasites that attach to the intestinal lining and suck blood. They can cause anemia, weakness, poor growth, and dark, tarry stools. Hookworm larvae can also enter through the skin, causing skin irritation and inflammation.

Dogs can get hookworms by eating them, through skin contact, or from their mother while nursing.


These are thin worms that live in the large intestine of dogs. They cause symptoms like chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and dehydration. Whipworm eggs are found in the feces and can survive in the environment for a long time.

Dogs become infected by eating the eggs, usually from contaminated soil or licking their paws.


Tapeworms are flat worms with segments that can grow several inches long. They attach themselves to the dog’s intestines and feed on nutrients. Dogs can get tapeworms by ingesting fleas or rodents that carry tapeworm larvae.

Symptoms include weight loss, scooting, and the presence of rice-like segments in the feces.

Detailed Symptoms of Worm Infestations in Dogs


These long, spaghetti-like worms might appear in a dog’s feces or vomit.

  • Symptoms:
    • Pot-bellied appearance.
    • Diarrhea.
    • Vomiting.
    • Weight loss.
    • Dull coat.
    • Coughing (if larvae migrate to the lungs).


While these tiny, thin worms are often invisible to the naked eye, their effects are noticeable.

  • Symptoms:
    • Dark, tarry stools (due to blood loss).
    • Pale gums and weakness (signs of anemia).
    • Weight loss.
    • Itchy feet (from larvae penetration).
    • Diarrhea.


Residing primarily in the large intestine, these thin, thread-like worms can cause significant discomfort.

  • Symptoms:
    • Chronic diarrhea, sometimes with blood.
    • Weight loss.
    • Dehydration.
    • Mucus in the stool.


Identifiable by segments resembling grains of rice in feces or around the anus.

  • Symptoms:
    • Scooting or dragging the rear end.
    • Visible worm segments in feces or near the anus.
    • Weight loss.
    • Increased appetite.

Always consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment if you observe any of these symptoms in your dog.

Factors Influencing the Severity and Duration of Worm Infestations in Dogs

The impact of a worm infestation in a dog can vary based on several factors. Understanding these can help dog owners gauge the seriousness of an infestation and the urgency for treatment.

Age of the Dog:

  • Puppies are generally more susceptible to worm infestations. Their immune systems are still developing, making them more vulnerable to the adverse effects of worms.
  • Older dogs might have a stronger immunity to infestations, but they can also face complications if they have other underlying health conditions.

General Health and Immunity:

  • Dogs with a strong immune system can sometimes manage minor worm infestations without showing severe symptoms.
  • Conversely, dogs with weakened immunity due to other illnesses, malnutrition, or stress can suffer more from the same infestation.

Nutritional Status:

  • A well-nourished dog might cope better with a worm infestation than a malnourished one. Worms consume vital nutrients from the dog, so those already facing nutritional deficiencies can experience exacerbated symptoms.


  • Dogs living in unsanitary conditions or those frequently exposed to places with high contamination risks (like communal dog parks without proper feces management) are at a higher risk of repeated and severe infestations.
  • Conversely, dogs in clean environments with minimal exposure to external contaminants might face lower risks.

Previous Exposure and Treatment:

  • Dogs that have been treated for worms in the past might have some level of resistance or immunity, especially if the exposure was recent.
  • However, repeated infestations can also indicate a persistent source of contamination that needs to be addressed.

Type of Worm:

  • Some worms, like certain types of hookworms, can cause severe symptoms rapidly, while others might take longer to manifest noticeable effects.

Consequences of Leaving Worm Infestations Untreated in Dogs

While some worm infestations might appear benign initially, leaving them untreated can lead to severe complications and health risks for your dog. Here are the potential consequences:

Nutritional Deficiencies:

  • Worms, especially tapeworms and roundworms, feed on the nutrients ingested by the dog. Over time, this can lead to malnutrition, causing a dull coat, lethargy, and weakened immunity.


  • Certain worms, like hookworms, feed on the dog’s blood, leading to a reduction in red blood cells. This can cause pale gums, fatigue, and rapid heart rate.

Intestinal Blockage:

  • A heavy infestation, particularly with roundworms, can lead to a blockage in the intestines. This is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical intervention.

Lung Damage:

  • Some worms, during their lifecycle, migrate through the lungs. This can cause respiratory issues, coughing, and in severe cases, pneumonia.

Transmission to Humans:

  • Certain types of worms, especially hookworms and roundworms, can be transmitted to humans, especially children, leading to potential health risks.

Growth Delays in Puppies:

  • Puppies with worm infestations might experience stunted growth and developmental delays due to nutritional deficiencies.

Weakened Immunity:

  • Chronic worm infestations can weaken a dog’s immune system, making them susceptible to other infections and illnesses.

Potential Death:

  • In extreme cases, especially if multiple complications arise, untreated worm infestations can lead to the death of the dog.

Preventing Worm Infestations in Dogs

Prevention is a dog owner’s best tool against worm infestations. It’s essential to establish a regular deworming routine, tailored to your dog’s specific needs by consulting with a veterinarian. This routine should account for factors like the dog’s age, overall health, and daily activities. A clean environment is another cornerstone of prevention.

By ensuring that your dog’s living space is consistently clean and free of feces, you significantly reduce the risk of worm infestation. This cleanliness extends to communal areas, such as dog parks. Fleas, which can be carriers for certain worms, should be kept in check with vet-recommended treatments. Regular vet check-ups can catch potential infestations early, making them easier to treat.

Diagnosing Worm Infestations in Dogs

If you ever suspect that your dog might be suffering from a worm infestation, it’s crucial to seek a veterinarian’s advice immediately. Typically, a vet will conduct fecal tests or other diagnostic procedures to pinpoint the exact type of worm affecting your dog. Accurate diagnosis is vital, as it determines the subsequent course of treatment.

Treating Worm Infestations in Dogs

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment should commence without delay. Your veterinarian will prescribe specific medications based on the identified worm type and the severity of the infestation. It’s of utmost importance to adhere to the vet’s instructions and ensure that the full course of medication is administered. Even if your dog appears to be getting better, completing the treatment ensures that all worms, including their larvae, are eradicated.

The Dangers of Worm Infestation in Dogs

sad and sick dog

When a dog has worms, it can lead to a range of health problems. Some of the common symptoms of worm infestation include:

  • Weight loss and poor appetite.
  • Diarrhea or bloody stool.
  • Vomiting.
  • Anemia (pale gums, weakness).
  • Itching and irritation around the anus.
  • Potbellied appearance.

These symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of the worm infestation. If left untreated, worms can cause significant harm to a dog’s health and potentially be fatal.

The Importance of Regular Deworming

Prevention is key when it comes to worms in dogs. Regular deworming, as recommended by veterinarians, is crucial for maintaining your pet’s health. Deworming treatments help eliminate existing worms and prevent re-infestation.

Puppies should be dewormed starting at a young age, as they are more susceptible to worm infections.

Adult dogs should also undergo regular deworming treatments, typically every three to six months, depending on their lifestyle and potential exposure to worms.

Your veterinarian can guide you on the appropriate deworming schedule for your dog based on its specific needs.

Conclusion: How Long Can A Dog Have Worms Before It Dies

Understanding how long a dog can have worms before it dies is crucial for every dog owner. Early detection, veterinary care, and preventive measures are key to ensuring the well-being and long life of your furry companion.

By learning about different types of worms, their symptoms, and effective treatments, you can take proactive steps to protect your dog’s health.

Remember, regular deworming and routine veterinary check-ups are essential for keeping your canine companion healthy and happy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Worm Infestations in Dogs

1. How often should I deworm my dog?

The frequency of deworming depends on your dog’s age, lifestyle, and the area you live in. Puppies often require more frequent deworming, sometimes as often as every two weeks until they reach a certain age. Adult dogs might be dewormed every 3 to 6 months. Always consult with your veterinarian to establish a suitable deworming schedule.

2. Can humans get worms from dogs?

Yes, certain types of worms, like hookworms and roundworms, can be transmitted from dogs to humans, especially if there’s direct contact with infected feces. It’s essential to maintain good hygiene and ensure regular deworming for your dog to reduce this risk.

3. Are there natural remedies for worm infestations?

While there are natural remedies touted for worm infestations, their efficacy is not always scientifically proven. It’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian before trying any treatment, natural or otherwise.

4. How can I tell if my dog has worms?

Common signs include visible worms in the feces or around the anus, scooting, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and a pot-bellied appearance. However, some infestations might not show obvious symptoms, making regular vet check-ups vital.

5. Can my dog get worms from raw food?

Yes, raw food, especially if it’s not sourced or prepared correctly, can be a source of worm infestations. If you choose to feed your dog a raw diet, ensure that the food is from a reputable source and is prepared with utmost hygiene.

6. How long after treatment will my dog be worm-free?

The duration varies based on the type of worm and the medication used. Some treatments act fast, eliminating worms within 24-48 hours, while others might take longer. Always consult with your veterinarian regarding the expected timeline and any follow-up treatments.

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