Types of Dog Worms: Treatment and Prevention of Infestation in Your German Shepherd

There are different types of dog worms that can affect your German Shepherd.

German Shepherds love exploring outdoors so picking up worms and their eggs is almost inevitable. Different worms have different looks but they all affect your German Shepherd ‘s health condition. In total, there are five types of dog worms and couple non-worm parasites that can affect your German Shepherd. Some types of dog worms are easier to see than others.

How do German Shepherds pick up different types of dog worms?

There are different ways your German Shepherd or any dog can get infected with internal parasites and here are some:

  • Their mother – German Shepherd puppies can be born with roundworms. Mother dogs can pass down the larvae even before birth. Puppies can also get worms from their mother’s milk.
  • Eating infected animals–German Shepherds are great hunters and sometimes they would try to eat rodents, fleas, and other animals which are possible carriers of worms and worm eggs. While not all animals can be hosts, some can still carry eggs of these parasites, which can activate inside your German Shepherd’s body.
  • From the ground – Whether you live in the country, suburbs, or the city, your German Shepherd can get exposed to everything – viruses, bacteria, and different types of dog worms. No matter where you live, your German Shepherd can ingest worm eggs since they can be present in everything.
  • Mosquito bites – Mosquitoes can be carriers of heartworm eggs. Your German Shepherd can get heartworms if he/she gets bitten by an infected mosquito.

The Different Types of Dog Worms that Can Affect Your German Shepherd

There are different types of dog worms and each type looks different from the other. Get to know the different types of dog worms below:


Type of Dog Worms - Roundworm

Joel Mills/Wikimedia Commons

Roundworms are the most common type of dog worms. This type has two main species that affect dogs: the Toxocaracanis and the Toxascaris leonine.In dogs, the Toxocaracanis can cause more serious problems. It’s also the species that can be transmitted to humans and can grow up to several inches long. As parasites, roundworms feed on the nutrients of your German Shepherd’s digested food inside the intestine.

Roundworms are pinkish and creamy-white in color and cylindrical in shape. They have three big lips surrounding their mouth, which can be seen using a microscope. The eggs of this type of worm can be present in soil, grass, and dirt so your GS can get them when they swallow these things. Young puppies can also get roundworms from their mom.


Types of Dog Worms - Hookworm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Aside from roundworms, hookworms are also very common in dogs. Hookworms are a lot smaller than roundworms and they appear like small white threads.They got their name for their style of sucking. Hookworms hook themselves into the dog’s intestinal wall so they could such on their blood. This parasite’s teeth are very sharp and they can cause the intestine to bleed – leading to blood loss and anemia.

Three species of hookworms can affect your German Shepherd and other dogs:

  • Ancylostoma braziliense,
  • Ancylostoma caninum,
  • And Uncinaria stenocephala.

The Ancylostoma caninum can also be transmitted to humans and affect the digestive system. The Ancylostoma braziliense is a little different. This species of hookworms can enter the human’s skin and reach the trachea, lungs, and intestines by travelling through the bloodstream.

Your German Shepherd can catch hookworms from soil, grass, or random objects. Mother dogs can pass it to their youngsters too.



Whipworms got their names from the structure of their body. The whipworm has a long neck that is attached to its short and fat body. The whipworm looks like a whip attached to a whip handle. They lurk in the boundary of the dog’s small and large intestines. Whipworms can cause your German Shepherd’s intestines to bleed by burying their long necks into the intestinal wall. Your GS can catch this parasite from ingesting eggs other dogs have shed.


Tapeworms are flat worms that look like connected rice segments. Among the different types of dog worms, this one is the easiest to recognize. They are also the least harmful to dogs. Your German Shepherd can get this parasite by eating infected fleas, mice, gophers, rats, and some large animals. Several species of tapeworms can affect your German Shepherd. The Dipylidiumcaninum is the species found in fleas while the Taenia and Echinococcus species are the ones your GS can get from eating infected animals.

Compared to the different types of dog worms, tapeworms don’t have mouths. Instead, they hold onto the wall of intestine with hooks and suckers on their head. Tapeworms live by absorbing food through their skin.

How to Care for Your German Shepherd


Heartworms are transmitted when an infected mosquito – a mosquito who has already bitten a heartworm-positive dog – bites another dog. This parasite affects the dog’s circulatory system especially the heart. When the population of the heartworm in the dog’s heart increases, it can cause the organ to not function correctly. And this can lead to death.

Non-worm intestinal parasites

Non worm Parasites

Joel Mills/Wikimedia Commons, benutzer:marvin_101/Wikimedia Commons

Other than the different types of dog worms we mentioned above, your German Shepherd may also acquire non-worm parasites like giardia, coccidia, and toxoplasma. These protozoans are microscopic organisms that do not really develop into worms. Like intestinal worms, these non-worm parasites can cause diarrhea. Your German Shepherd can get these parasites by ingesting infected dirt, soil, or feces.

Prevent Infestation of Dog Worms

No, you cannot 100% prevent your German Shepherd from getting worms – but you can manage it to prevent severe infestation that could lead to serious health issues.

Read: Parvo in German Shepherds: What is Canine Parvovirus?

The best and most effective way to prevent infestation of different types of dog worms is to follow your German Shepherd’s worming and heartworm prevention schedules. Now, veterinarians can offer combination heartworm preventatives which work in two ways: protect your dog from heartworm infestation and get rid of intestinal parasites. Talk to your German Shepherd’s vet to discuss the treatment that suits him best.

Symptoms of Internal Parasites in Dogs

If your German Shepherd has severe parasite infestation he may show the following signs:

  • Coughing – Dogs with severe heartworm infestation may start coughing. Dogs with severe infestation of roundworms and hookworms may get start coughing too.
  • Diarrhea – As a response to the irritation worms cause in the intestine, your German Shepherd’s body may try to flush out worms – leading to diarrhea.
  • Vomiting – If your German Shepherd is severely infested with any type of dog worm, then he may vomit. Worms may also be visible in the vomit.
  • Lethargy – Parasites suck on the blood or nutrients of their host’s food so if your German Shepherd has severe infestation of dog worms, then he may feel weak.
  • Enlarged belly – Dogs – especially puppies – can have enlarged tummies when they get filled with worms.
  • Dull coat and itchy skin – Severe worm infestation can also manifest in your German Shepherd’s coat and skin.
  • Weight loss – Since parasites feed on your dog’s blood of the nutrients of his food, then his body absorbs less vitamins and nutrients – leading to loss of weight.
  • Loss of appetite – Due to the pain or discomfort, dogs may choose to pass during meal time.
  • Scooting – Your German Shepherd may start scooting because his rear end may feel itchy due to the irritation caused by worms.
  • Presence of worms in stool – If your German Shepherd’s stool contains worms, then it is an obvious sign that his body’s is battling severe worm infestation.

Treating Different Types of Dog Worms

If your German Shepherd dog shows any of the symptoms mentioned above, then a trip to vet is a must. Your German Shepherd’s veterinarian will determine what types of dog worms your German Shepherd has by checking his fecal and blood samples.

The veterinarian will then give your German Shepherd a proper dosage of any of the common wormers such as Pyrantel Pamoate, Praziquantel, Ivermectin, and Milbemycin Oxime. Depending on the degree of the infestation, the vet might require you take your German Shepherd back for follow-up worming session.

Preventing Parasite Infestation

Just like in most things, prevention is better than cure. A quarterly worming schedule should be followed to get rid of intestinal parasites. A monthly heartworm preventative protects your GS from heartworm infestation. Although treatable, heartworms are harder and longer to treat. The most common heartworm treatment is done with a series of immiticide shots. Hospitalization may also be required. Dogs who surviveheartworm infestation may still suffer from heart issues and damage.

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