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Stomach Worm Infection (Physalopterosis) in Dogs

Physalopterosis in Dogs

Physalopterosis, a condition found in dogs, is an infection affecting the gastrointestinal tract. It is caused by the presence of parasitic organisms known as Physaloptera spp. Generally, the infection involves only a small number of worms, with single worm infestations being frequent. There are no specific age, breed, or gender predispositions associated with acquiring this condition.


Physaloptera spp. induced stomach worm infection may manifest as asymptomatic, where no obvious outward signs are evident, or it may present with gastric symptoms. The predominant symptom is vomiting, which can either be chronic or acute. Occasionally, worms, either singular or multiple, may be observed in the vomited contents.


Stomach worms stem from the parasitic organism Physaloptera spp. These worms are typically transmitted when an animal consumes the infective larvae residing in an intermediate host. Intermediate hosts, including grubs, beetles, cockroaches, and crickets, commonly engage in coprophagous behavior, consuming feces and thereby facilitating the life cycle of the Physaloptera parasite. Additionally, transmission can occur through the ingestion of a transport host such as a bird, rodent, frog, snake, or lizard. Increased outdoor exposure heightens the chances of encountering these intermediate or small vertebrate transport hosts, thereby elevating the risk of stomach worm infection. Conversely, dogs kept indoors without access to these hosts exhibit reduced susceptibility to such infections.


The primary approach to identifying and diagnosing worms involves endoscopic gastroscopy. This procedure entails inserting a small, thin tube equipped with a tiny light and camera through the dog’s mouth and into the stomach to visually inspect its interior. Typically, worms will adhere to the stomach lining or the mucus-covered lining of the intestines. Given the limited presence of worms and their potential concealment by mucus and stomach contents, a careful and thorough examination is imperative for detection. Moreover, since the worms measure between 2.5 to 5 cm in length, they are relatively small. Examination of the dog’s vomit and feces may also aid in diagnosing stomach worm infection, particularly if worm eggs are detected in the contents.


The removal of worms from the dog’s body is not always required; treatment of stomach worms can be administered at home using prescribed medications. An adulticide, intended to eliminate the adult worms, may be prescribed, along with other medications aimed at alleviating gastric symptoms.

Living and Management

Following your veterinarian’s instructions, treatment with an adulticide and any other prescribed medications should be adhered to. Your veterinarian will arrange a follow-up appointment for your dog to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment. Clinical signs and the presence of eggs in feces should typically resolve within two weeks of treatment. If the initial treatment proves ineffective, re-treatment may be required.


Restricting your dog’s access to areas where intermediate hosts or small rodent transport hosts reside can help prevent stomach worm infections. Increased outdoor exposure raises the risk of contracting stomach worms.

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