A dog’s poop can tell owners a god bit about what might be going on internally with their pet. While it’s not one of the top activities, you probably want to do with your dog, looking when you pick up their poop helps to keep them healthy! A common concern when examining dog poop is finding small white specks, which should definitely not be there.
Why does my dog have white specks in their poop? The most common concern of a dog having white specks in its poop is worms and the presence of their segments releasing into the stool (tapeworm, hookworm, roundworms, etc.). These are parasites that need to be treated with medication. In less severe cases, the white specks could be undigested food, tiny bones, grains, and other foreign particles they eat.
If you notice white specks in your dog’s stool, carefully monitor their poop, change their diet, and try to prevent consumption of foreign objects from ruling out issues related to digestion. If specks persist, worms are likely the problem and need to be addressed to prevent more problematic health problems. Read on to learn what to look for when monitoring your dog’s poop to help make sure your pet is healthy and happy.
Dog Has Diarrhea with White Specks
If the dog has diarrhea with white specks in it, your first thought should be worms in the intestinal tract. Diarrhea is one of the primary symptoms associated with intestinal worms (Source: American Kennel Club). When diarrhea coupled with white specks, especially if they are moving, the dog has likely contracted worms.
Blood in diarrhea may also appear, so be on the lookout for brighter reds and darker purples in the poop as well (Source: PedMD).
Other symptoms can further confirm that the dog has worms beyond the white specks:
- An overall change in appearance: If you notice an overall grave appearance or unfavorable changes in your dog’s energy, worms could be the culprit.
- Vomiting: The white specks can also be thrown up, so examine your dog’s vomit when suspicious of worms.
- Weight loss: Worms are eating the nutrients that your dog takes in, so you may notice weight loss. A noticeable weight loss typically means that your dog has had worms for a while.
- Potbelly: Especially noticeable in puppies, dogs can develop a bloated stomach with growing worms in the abdomen. This is usually common with the presence of roundworms (Source: MedicAnimal).
- Dehydration: Low body fluid levels can lead to a host of problems, but worms can be a culprit. You can tell if a dog is dehydrated by sunken eyes, lethargy, dry gums, loss of skin elasticity, and weakness (Source: Vets Now).
Some dogs live with worms with no symptoms and never become sick. The type of worm and the severity of the infestation will often dictate how severe the symptoms are and the risks of your dog becoming gravely ill. Diarrhea may result from the different worms in the intestinal tract but does not have to be present for worms to exist.
These are the most common types of worms to worry about in dogs:
- Roundworms: These are the most common type of worms found in dogs and will appear as white or light brown specks in stool or vomit (Source: Pets & Parasites). Puppies are most susceptible to getting them, but dogs can easily get them at any point in their lives. Many dogs show no symptoms, making roundworms hard to detect.
- Tapeworms: Also noticeable with white specks in the poop, tapeworms may cause similar symptoms of worms mentioned above, most specifically weight loss. (Source: WebMD Pets)
- Hookworms: Hookworms latch onto the intestinal wall and thrive off of the dog’s blood. These worms are dangerous because they can lead to a drastic decrease in red blood cells in dogs, also known as anemia (Source: VCA Hospitals). Look for signs of blood loss (pale gums, weakness, and weight loss) as evidence of these worms in poop is not always guaranteed.
- Whipworms: These worms are dangerous and cannot be easily identified by a dog’s poop other than the presence of bloody diarrhea. Excessive presence of whipworms can lead to dog death (Source: Today’s Veterinary Practice).
- Heartworms: These worms can cause damage to the heart, arteries, and lungs if left untreated and decrease the overall quality of life after removal (Source: Heartworm Society). They are typically not found in your dog’s stool and will be noticeable based on fatigue, weight loss, or cough.
What Do Worms Look Like in Dog Poop?
Roundworms and tapeworms will be the most common worms found in your dog’s poop. They are both white or light brown in color and will often be found in small rice-like shaped pieces in the stool (Source: American Kennel Club). These are segments of the worm that break down and are passed into the poop.
Roundworms will be rounder shaped like their name suggests. Their eggs and larvae also get passed into the poop, which is a way in which they spread. Make sure you dispose of this poop, so no other humans or animals have contact with it (Source: Associated Veterinary Medical Center). Tapeworms are flat but will look quite similar to roundworms in the poop.
Do Worms Die After a Dog Poops Them Out?
The stage at which the worm is passed in the poop will determine if the worm dies after your dog poops it out.
- If a segment of an adult worm is passed, it will not survive once outside of its host.
- Eggs and larvae of worms can also be passed in the stool, and these are dangerous as they are still alive and can be passed to humans or other animals (Source: Drake Center).
Because it’s hard to distinguish between eggs, larvae, and worm segments in the poop (all look like white specks), it is essential to clean up the poop and deworm the animal with medication, usually anthelmintic drugs (Source: Worm Book). If you notice the white specks moving in the poop, they are not dead, and it can be unclear if they will die.
The best way to tackle worms in dogs is to prevent them with flea and worm treatments. Especially because worms are common in puppies, jumping on these treatments will save a lot of time, money, and health concerns in your dog. Preventions are targeted toward heartworms and fleas because they tackle most types of common worms (Source: WebMD Pets).
Tiny White Specks in Dog Poop Not Moving
White specks that are not moving can be harmless! You should always err on the side of caution when you see white specks, whether or not they are moving. However, if they are not moving, the specks can be harmless. Monitoring and changes to your dog’s diet will help to determine if these white specks are worms or caused by undigested food products (Source: Medical News Today).
Sources of non-moving white specks in dog poop can also be:
- Grains, rice, and seeds: undigested rice will look nearly identical to worms in both size and shape.
- Small bones: If dogs eat a small animal, they may pass the chewed-up bone pieces in their stool, which can explain white specks.
- Medication: In rarer cases, pill casings may not break down easily and show up undigested in the poop.
Examining dog poop, especially in puppies, will allow you to identify worms early. If you notice white specks, first try to eliminate items from their diet that could cause the specks.
This will make it easier to determine if the changes in their poop are caused by worms that require medical intervention.