My Eight Week Old Puppy Had Roundworm — And This Is How I Handled It

Written by Katarina Betterton
Published: December 8, 2023
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It’s one of every dog parent’s worst nightmares: your brand-new puppy wakes you up at 3:00 a.m. because they have to use the bathroom. You take them outside and instead of the regular poop they should have, a mess of spaghetti-like white worms falls out of their butt.

That moment takes “crappiness” to a whole new level. I know; I’ve been there too.

Handling intestinal worms is a process, especially if you have more than one dog in the house or you’ve never dealt with them before. Fortunately, I’ve done it so I can help you through!

What Are Roundworms?

Ascariasis is a disease caused by the parasitic roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides for education in laboratories.

Ascariasis is a disease caused by the parasitic roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides for education in laboratories.

©Sinhyu/iStock via Getty Images

Roundworms are a type of intestinal parasite. They live in your dog’s intestines, gleaning the nutrients they need to survive from your puppy’s partially digested food. Roundworms remain the most common gastrointestinal worm in puppies and dogs. They’re easily transmittable because dogs have their faces and noses in everything, especially on walks or outside.

Unfortunately, humans can contract roundworms — though it’s rare. Usually, you’ll have to accidentally infest soil, sand, or another material in which the roundworm eggs already live. It’s very unlikely you could get roundworms from your dog licking you. 

Did Your Puppy Have Symptoms?

Not that I noticed — but this was a few days after we’d adopted her from the shelter. We hadn’t even been to the vet with her yet. 

Nero’s Backstory

Nero Lilly Betterton loves peanut butter, playing with her brother and sister, and snuggling in bed.

© Betterton

The way that our situation shook out was a little unique. I’d been volunteering at the animal shelter where our infected dog, Nero, was. Of course, at the time we didn’t know it. We were on our way to a movie when I convinced my husband to stop by the shelter, as a litter of puppies had just been dropped off and the kennels were reaching capacity.

When we got there, only Nero was left out of her litter — every other dog in the puppy room was taken. There she was, shivering and sitting in feces. We watched her shy away from others who looked at the kennel and the employees, so we didn’t expect much of a reaction when we approached. However, as my husband approached her slowly, she immediately perked up and came to the grate to greet him. 

Clearly, we couldn’t leave her after that interaction.

We hadn’t planned to adopt a dog that day (and we ended up missing our movie). With two dogs already at home, though, we had the supplies necessary. We brought her home, quarantined her from the other two, and began to set things up for them to meet.

Because we live eight hours from our immediate family, we had a trip planned that weekend, and our other two dogs were already set for a boarding reservation. We adopted Nero on a Thursday and she didn’t have any shots — so that meant she would make the trip up with us.

How We Noticed It

She did fine in the car, and while her poops were smelly and a little gross, we didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary “new puppy” situation. We’d just met her, so we assumed her calm nature was a bit of fear of her new environment and tiredness from the trip.

When we came back on Sunday night and Nero woke me up to potty at 3:00 a.m., that’s when I saw the adult worms coming out of her. Neither of our previous dogs had worms, so I freaked out a little. I may or may not have violently woken up my husband with panicked speech and hyperventilating that everyone in the house — us included — is full of parasites and she’s probably on her deathbed now. 

Thankfully, he’s a physician and a calm boulder in my sea of anxiety. Our other dogs were still boarded so we didn’t have to worry about them contracting the parasite. We placed her in the tub with blankets and towels until our vet opened. He helped me gather some samples, get her to sleep, and explained that even though roundworms are zoonotic, it’s pretty unlikely that either of us ingested roundworm eggs from her.

How Do You Handle Roundworms in Puppies?

A single dog roundworm, or Toxocara canis, ejected on the grass from a puppy's vomit.

Roundworms can live in your yard.

© Edwards

The first thing to do, as much as possible, is to not panic. Roundworms are the most common for a reason — they’re everywhere in the world. Yes, they’re gross, and creepy-crawly, and wriggly, and you don’t want to think about your new fur baby having those inside themselves. However, they’re both curable and preventable.

Next, don’t “doomscroll” online. The best place to get reliable information is your veterinarian. If you’re like me and find evidence of roundworms outside of normal business hours, call an emergency vet. In our situation, I could call and describe the worm — because I didn’t even know what worm it was at first — and they calmed my fear, free of charge. 

The third step is twofold and of equal importance: get a vet appointment immediately and pick up any poop in your yard. The vet appointment will provide you with confirmation that your dog has roundworms (so long as you bring a fecal sample) and the medication to get rid of them. You need to pick up the poop to remove the roundworm eggs from your yard. Roundworm eggs and larvae can live for months or years on the ground. Even if it’s winter, they will survive extreme temperature changes. 

Finally, you want to make sure your dog is on a monthly dewormer. Our vet recommends a monthly preventative pair of Nexgard and Sentinel. We’ve also used Simparica Trio in the past. I like the Nexgard and Sentinel pairing, as both come in chewable/flavorful tablets. Simparica Trio was a massive pill that was too hard to hide in food. Our current vet also recommended we move away from it, as her experience shows Nexgard and Sentinel as more effective.

What We Did Next

Veterinarian, Dog, Animal, Customer, Office

Getting to the vet after finding roundworms in your puppy’s poop is important.

©SeventyFour/ via Getty Images

Between 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., my husband and I confirmed the worm was indeed roundworm, picked up the infected poop, cleaned out the water bowl and food bowl Nero was using, and placed her in the bathtub in case she had an accident somewhere in the house (this was probably overkill).

Because I work remotely, I had the luxury of being home with her, cleaning the rest of the house, and taking her to the vet when they opened. We kept the other dogs boarded for a few extra days so we could ensure the yard was clear of feces, the house was clean, and Nero had started her deworming medication. I also made sure I had enough of their preventative medicine so that they’d be covered if roundworm eggs survived in the yard. 

Once we got the “all clear” from the vet, we let our little Nero finally meet her brother and sister!

What We Learned

While we’d also rescued our first dog, Ledger, we didn’t get him from an animal shelter. We adopted him through a lengthy rescue process, and he’d already been treated for giardia when we had him. Mikasa, our second pup, is a purebred Shiba Inu from a reputable breeder and didn’t have health issues when we got her. 

With Nero, we learned that shelter dogs may have illnesses, parasites, or other issues the shelter doesn’t know about because of the nature of the work. We learned what roundworms look like, how to notice signs, when to schedule a vet appointment (immediately!), and why paying attention to your new dog and their health is so important. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Astakhova/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Katarina is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on dogs, travel, and unique aspects about towns, cities, and countries in the world. Katarina has been writing professionally for eight years. She secured two Bachelors degrees — in PR and Advertising — in 2017 from Rowan University and is currently working toward a Master's degree in creative writing. Katarina also volunteers for her local animal shelter and plans vacations across the globe for her friend group. A resident of Ohio, Katarina enjoys writing fiction novels, gardening, and working to train her three dogs to speak using "talk" buttons.

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