Thursday, May 17, 2018

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Polka Dot Stools

If your dog's poop looks like somebody just had a birthday party in their belly, somebody did. Cooties… in other words, parasites!

Unfortunately, it will not look as cute as in this illustration.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Polka Dot Stools

That said if the pie isn's freshly baked, the worms might not have come out of your dog's bum, they might have just shown up after the party’s started, so to speak. I have seen freaked out people sharing photos of worms that invaded their dog’s poop after it’s been on the ground for awhile and I have seen that happen every now and then too; guest showing up for an open buffet.

It is also possible that your dog ate something that didn't digest well and that's what you're seeing. Some foods don't digest, particularly when eaten whole, but you might need to freak out if you see rice-like things in your dog’s poop or around your dog’s rear end. They’re probably tapeworms.

Once you've seen the tapeworm segments, you will recognize them.


If a tapeworm is a worm, why does it look like rice? Well, it doesn't, until it does. They do look like worms when they are inside your dog’s body, but they shed body segments as part of their life cycle. When the segments first come out, they are small, white and may even wiggle. But as they dry, they shrink up into what looks like rice. I actually saw a couple crawl right out of Cookie's bum and then experimentally watched one shrink.

Cookie most likely got them from eating a squirrel or from fleas. An ingested flea is the most common way dogs get tapeworms.

Tapeworms and roundworms are the only ones you'll usually be able to see with your eyes.


If you actually see worms in your dog's poop, you have a leg up. Because only two out of the four common intestinal worms can usually be seen in the stool; tapeworms and roundworms.

Roundworms look more like what you’d think of a worm looking like. Long and, well, round. Unless your dog has lots of roundworms, though, you probably won’t see any in the poop. Just because you don't see any, doesn't mean they're not there.

You may or may not be able to tell whether your dog has worms by other symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting, a pot-bellied appearance, weight loss or dry hair.

That said, I am not a fan of treating a problem I don't have; I wouldn't routinely deworm my adult dog. I do, however, have the poop checked regularly. Worms are not only gross but severe enough infestation can be dangerous.


Do you know what your dog is telling you about their health?


Learn how to detect and interpret the signs of a potential problem.


Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog has won the following awards:

20 comments

  1. Worms. Ewww... Such disgustin' things. We cats can get 'em, too, from either huntin' or like doggies, from fleas. That's why it's so important to keep us flea free (among other reasons) and, I guess, regularly checkin' our poop. Guess that's why my peeps check the contents of our litter boxes every now and then. Peeps will be peeps. purrs

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    1. LOL You have good peeps, checking on your litter boxes. Do appreciate them.

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  2. The thought of worms and parasites give me the heebie-jeebies! I find that many puppies tend to get them, and if one pet has them, then usually all the pets in the house need to be treated. I have my dogs stool tested on a yearly basis during their wellness check ups

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    1. Well, there are things that are much worse than worms. Except heartworms which is horrible. Intestinal ones, though, are not the end of the world unless left to proliferate to dangerous levels.

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  3. Ugh, I have not seen worms in dogs. But when volunteering at a local shelter I saw evidence of tapeworms and round worms in incoming cats. It's gross and not something you forget. LOL.

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    1. Adult dogs don't get them all that much unless having a flea problem or, like Cookie, munching on freshly caught pray.

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  4. This was gross but thanks for sharing. It's a good reminder to check out the poop from time to time! ~ Dear Mishu

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    1. LOL The illustration isn't so bad; that's why I opted to have illustrations done instead of using photos.

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  5. Gross. Fortunately, this isn't an issue I've had to deal with. But horses have to be dewormed regularly. Apparently, that's what happens when you continually eat from the ground.

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    1. Little aspiring residents are lurking everywhere.

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  6. As part of our wellness checks, the vet gets a stool sample each time and tests it for parasites. We’re happy we get these wellness checks twice a year now.

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    1. Great job. Yes, gotta have the poopsie checked regularly.

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  7. This is a very important topic, even though dealing with worms is unpleasant. So many strays have this issue and then rescues & shelters have to deal with it as well, even in pregnant dogs. Glad DWAA recommends this book!

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    1. I'd rather deal with worms than with many other potential health problems that can crop up. It's an icky issue but it's an easy one to fix.

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  8. I always walk my dog around our neighborhood and pick up her poop, so I would notice something odd, like worms. Fortunately, I haven't had that problem in a long time. We used to jokingly ask if our dogs poop had corn in it. If you ever give your dog corn - it goes right through!

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    1. When Cookie had tapeworm, I haven't seen anything on the poop, just saw them crawling out of her bum ;-) I guess I caught it early so there was not enough to be all over her poop too.

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  9. Although it's not the most glamorous thing, checking your pet's stool is important for their health. I've never owned a pup so I haven't seen anything like what you describe however have visually checked my cat's stool in the past. Getting used to what is normal for your pet helps keep them healthy. Anything out of order, like you said, should be investigated and brought to your vet's attention. OUr pets health is important.

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  10. I think tapeworms in cats is one of the most common complaints people come to the pet store searching a solution for. At least a few times I week I have that conversation. And the poor cats almost always have fleas.

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    1. Yes, fleas are the most common source of tapeworm infection.

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