Unless you’re a pup expert, deworming may be a little bit confusing to you. You may have questions like, why do puppies need to be dewormed? If my puppy’s being dewormed, does that mean that they have worms? Am I going to catch them if they do? Does my puppy have to be dewormed more than once? Well, you’re in luck! We’re going to answer all of the above questions as well as taking you through your puppy’s deworming schedule in the form of procedure, efficacy, recovery, and prevention. Read on for everything you need to know about deworming your puppy.
Why does my puppy need to be dewormed?
Okay, let’s answer the most important question first. Why on earth does your puppy need to be dewormed? Well, odds are your puppy was born with intestinal worms. No, it is not pleasant to think of these terrible little parasites multiplying and taking nutrients from inside your little baby. But your puppy is not alone. The vast majority of dogs are born with intestinal worms which are passed onto them by their mother through her milk or even while they are still in her body. This can include parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Worms can also be transferred to your dog through infected feces, soil, carrion, or raw meat. The type of worm in particular that your pup was probably born with are roundworms which can be very harmful to your puppy, especially if he or she has a large number of worms. Although just about every dog out there has worms to some degree in their system, if allowed to build up, they can cause lack of appetite, diarrhea, anemia, lethargy, and, in the worst-case scenario, death.
Can my puppy’s worms be transferred to me?
Unfortunately, if left untreated, you absolutely can catch worms from your pup. The most common type of intestinal worms that your pup most likely has are roundworms which also happen to be the most contagious to humans. Human contact with soil or dog feces that contain tapeworms can result in infection if ingested. The soil where your dog has deposited their feces can pose a risk for infection even if the dog feces is picked up. This is due to the fact that roundworm eggs can accumulate in vast numbers in the soil where the dog has laid their feces and can result in eye, lung, heart, and neurologic issues in humans. Deworming is not something that can be put off for the health of not only your pup but also you and your family.
What types of worms might my dog have?
We’ll give you a rundown of what types of worms your pup might have and exactly what they are. (If you’re eating, now might be a good time to stop.) It’s important to know the difference as each type of worm has a different way of getting its way into your pup’s body and each exhibit slightly different symptoms.
Roundworm: This is the type of worm that your puppy was most likely born with. It may have been passed onto them before they exited the womb or through their mother’s milk after birth. Whether or not the mother actually has active roundworm in her system or not, most mothers do have dormant larvae in their tissues. So, it’s almost guaranteed your puppy will get it. Alarmingly, these larvae that were lying dormant in the mother come alive at the end of the pregnancy and can make their way into the lungs of the young pups – yikes. Even a light infestation of roundworm may look different in different pups. Puppy’s with potbellies generally have roundworm and it can also cause dry skin and a dull coat. If left untreated, roundworms can cause intestinal and liver damage. As previously mentioned, this type of worm can also be passed onto humans.
Whipworm: While puppies are not born with whipworms, they can get infected with them by ingesting their eggs that live in the soil. This can easily happen by your puppy even stepping in soil, getting it on their paws, and then touching their food or toys. Diarrhea is the most common physical symptom of whipworm but if left untreated it can progress to weight loss, dehydration, lethargy, and anemia. This particular kind of worm cannot infect humans.
Hookworm: Even though puppies are generally born with roundworms, hookworms are still the most common parasite in the U.S. among dogs with approximately one in five being infected at any given time. Not only can these worms be contracted through feces but they can even latch themselves onto your pup’s skin with their horrible, hook-like teeth which they also use to grip onto your pup’s intestinal lining. Hookworm larvae tend to be active in wet grass or on the sand so avoid walking your pup any place where there is either terrain. Symptoms of hookworm are most commonly diarrhea, weakness, and, if left untreated and allowed to become severe, anemia. It is worth noting that humans can also be infected by hookworm.
Tapeworm: You likely have a visual already of what tapeworm is and it’s not pretty. They are long worms that live in the long intestine and can be contracted through the soil, fleas, or from eating rodents. Tapeworm generally does not cause any real harm, except in very severe cases, where your pup may suffer from a variety of symptoms. These include abdominal pain, weight loss, vomiting, or intense itching around the anus. You’re welcome for that image.
Puppy deworming procedure
It is recommended that puppies are dewormed five times by the age of 12 weeks – yes, you read that correctly. Once at two, four, six, eight, and 12 weeks, and then every three months for the rest of their life with an-all wormer. Your vet may administer the deworming medication, either in the form of a pill, a liquid syringe administered right into your pup’s mouth, injection or topically on the skin. They may also give you worming medication to take home to administer yourself at a later date. Although there are deworming products available for you to buy on the market, it is always best to obtain it from your veterinarian as they will know the most effective method and dosage for your dog based on their size, weight, and breed. When it comes to having this procedure done at the vet, deworming is usually included in packages for puppy’s first shots and would be administered at their six, eight- and 12-week appointments.
With regular and consistent treatment, the deworming medication should be effective; however, there are mistakes that can render it ineffective or less effective than it should be. For example, it is important that you follow up consistently at the two, four, six, eight, and 12 week marks with a deworming medication as puppies are especially susceptible to worms and are more often than not born with them. Worms can also be fatal in puppies so making absolutely sure that your puppy is free of worms is vital. A puppy’s immune system is weak and they may pick up worms even after being free of them from their first round of deworming medication. As your dog gets older, administering a dewormer every three months is highly recommended to keep them free of parasites. The most common mistake that is made when it comes to deworming medication is administering it ourselves without consulting our vet. A dewormer that is administered orally needs to be followed up with a second dose 15 days after the first one for it to be effective, which is often not administered when we do it on our own. You may not also realize that your dog’s weight needs to be taken into consideration, ending up in you under or overdosing your dog with deworming medication. Therefore, if the deworming medication is administered properly and consistently by your veterinarian taking into account your puppy’s size, weight, age, and lifestyle, there’s no reason why it should not be effective.
While some puppies have no side effects at all, there is often some recovery time that goes along with each dose of deworming medication. There is a high risk of your puppy having an upset stomach which could include symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and general gastrointestinal upset. Depending on what medication your veterinarian has used, you may find the paralyzed worms in your puppy’s stool or vomit as they detach from your puppy’s internal tissues, which is completely normal. In other cases, the dewormer may have dissolved the worms in your puppy’s system. However, these side effects are usually mild and do not last long.
Job one is to keep your puppy on a regularly administered deworming schedule. Again, the recommended schedule is two, four, six, eight, and 12 weeks, and then every three months afterward. It is also recommended to get your pup’s stool checked for worms once per year. This by far the best way to prevent worms as it is incredibly easy for your pup to pick them up either from another dog’s feces, soil that’s been invested with parasite eggs, or infected fleas and mosquitos. Keeping your pup’s immune system up will also significantly help in the fight against worms by making sure that they are kept on a well-balanced, nutritious diet, and getting lots of exercise. There are also other ways that you can help prevent worms in your pup and that comes down to making sure you’re providing them with a safe and sanitized environment. Some examples of these ways are:
- Walking your pup on cement instead of dirt or in the grass
- Prevent and dispose of any vermin that may be in your house or yard (they may carry tapeworm)
- Do not let your pup hunt or allow them to sniff or pick up dead rodents/birds in their mouths
- Keep your yard free of poop by scooping it up daily
- Keep your lawn cut short and only water it when necessary
- Make sure any fresh meat you’re giving your pup is cooked thoroughly
- Keep your pup well away from any animal feces that have not been picked up while on walks
When should I see a vet?
If you believe your puppy may still be infested with worms even after sticking to a puppy deworming schedule and is exhibiting symptoms, go see a vet as soon as possible. Don’t panic if you see worms in your puppy’s stool and they’re exhibiting no other symptoms – this may be the result of their body flushing out parasites due to the administration of deworming medication or their body has built up an immunity to them. However, there are certain symptoms that you should not ignore, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Mucus or blood in their stool
- Weight loss
Remember, an infestation of worms can be fatal in puppies so getting them to a vet right away is crucial. Do not attempt to treat the worms yourself under any circumstances, especially when it comes to a puppy or a dog exhibiting these kinds of symptoms.
When it comes to your puppy’s deworming schedule, it should be taken as seriously as any other vaccine that your puppy is required to get. Worms can cause a serious health hazard for your puppy. The last thing you want to do is unnecessarily risk your pup’s health for something that could have been easily prevented and/or treated in a matter of seconds. Although not everyone chooses to keep up with their dog’s worming schedule after the initial puppy stage due to the increased tolerance or immunity your dog will develop, it is still highly recommended to avoid a serious infestation or infestation to yourself or family. We have our dogs to keep them safe and healthy and we know they’d do the same for us!