Deworming is a gross but necessary part of puppy care. Believe it or not, young dogs are the perfect hosts for worms! They get into all kinds of environments teeming with parasites.
With their penchant for all things disgusting, puppies consume worm eggs more than most people realize.
As if that weren’t bad enough, their developing immune systems aren’t strong enough to fight off infections on their own.
As a result, parasites can end up wreaking havoc on your puppy’s gut. Worming takes care of those pesky hitchhikers, allowing your pup to devote its strength to growing big and strong.
If you’ve never had to use a worming product before, the process can be a bit overwhelming.
How do you administer treatment, and how often should you deworm your dog? Can you give your puppy too much wormer, and what happens if you do?
All these questions often lead to some hesitation. But fear not! Here’s some crucial information you can use to worm your puppy safely and efficiently.
Canine Worms 101
Before we talk about treatment, let’s go over some basics.
Dog owners often use the catch-all term “worms” to describe a specific type of parasitic infection. However, these bugs aren’t like the traditional earthworms you find in your backyard.
The worms latch onto your dog’s digestive system, feeding off their nutrients. Your pup is the host, supporting life for the worms and making their spread possible!
Most worms will grow into adults inside your puppy. There, they lay eggs that pass through feces so another dog can experience an infection.
It’s an ongoing cycle, but worms always require a host to survive.
What Types of Worms Infect Puppies?
Several types of worms could call your dog’s body home. The most common are roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and hookworms.
Heartworms are pretty standard, too. But, they infect dogs a little differently, calling for unique treatment.
Roundworms and hookworms usually come from infected soil. The eggs and larvae can also live in dropping from another infected animal.
Puppies typically encounter them in one of two ways.
The first is through direct ingestion. Your pup might eat random poop they find outside. It’s a pretty gross thought, but eating feces is quite common for dogs!
The second way they get infected is through direct skin contact. Larvae can penetrate the skin on the paws of the tummy, eventually making their way to the gut!
Whipworms can also live in poop and dirt. However, they also infect puppies through contaminated water. Many dogs encounter them after drinking stagnant water from a pond or puddle.
Finally, there are tapeworms. Tapeworms can be a little challenging to diagnose, as they latch onto the intestines and slowly grow over time.
It’s not until the worm is considerably long that you start to see small segments and eggs in your puppy’s poop!
Tapeworms come from infected fleas. When your dog accidentally consumes fleas from licking themselves or chewing the skin, they inadvertently start an infection.
Those are just some of the worms your dog will encounter. The world of parasites is quite vast, and puppies can discover them in many ways.
In addition to the methods of infection we talked about, puppies can get worms by eating raw meat, consuming garbage, and more!
Many will also acquire worms from their mothers, calling for worming treatments pretty early.
How Do I Know If My Dog Has Worms?
Symptoms can vary pretty dramatically from one puppy to the next. Generally, young pups will experience bouts of diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and general stomach upsets.
If the infection is pretty far along, you may start to see worms appear in their poop. Worms live in the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in live worms and their eggs passing frequently.
As the infection progresses, your pup’s abdomen may also become swollen. At that point, the worms are capable of causing real damage to your dog’s health.
Related read: What Should Normal, Healthy Dog Feces Look Like?
Because worms are essentially stealing energy from your dog, most pups will suffer bouts of lethargy and overall weakness. You may even notice stunted development.
Dogs with worms cannot grow up healthily, so you need to address the issue as soon as possible.
Worms are normal, but they’re not something you should ignore. Untreated infections could ultimately kill a young puppy, which is why regular deworming is paramount.
Administering Deworming Treatment
If you suspect that your pup has worms, you have several options at your disposal. Worming products, called anthelmintics, release chemicals into your dog’s system.
The medication works to starve and paralyze worms, allowing your pup to pass them without any issue. Most products provide results within two to six hours. However, it can take longer for your pooch to recover.
There are a few types of deworming products available.
Over-the-counter medications are sold at pet stores and many big-box retailers. They come in tablets, pastes, powders, and liquids.
Liquids and powders are usually the easiest to administer to puppies. All you have to do is mix it in with their meal. Dogs will sometimes gobble up pastes, too. However, it all depends on the flavor and your dog’s preferences.
Dewormer tablets can be effective, but they require more careful administering. Usually, dogs will only take them if you hide them in a treat or wrap it in a piece of cheese!
Do whatever works for your dog. The important thing is that it goes down and stays down.
Choosing the Right Dewormer
Before you do anything, we recommend gathering as much evidence as possible. If you see the worms in your pup’s droppings, take some photos that you can bring to your vet.
The best dewormers are the ones your vet will administer. However, they need to know what kind of worm plagues your furry friend.
Even if you choose to go the over-the-counter route, you’ll find that many products cater to a specific type of worm.
Sure, there are universal products that address a few different parasite species. But, targeted medications always fare better. This is especially true if you’re dealing with resilient tapeworms.
Medication for roundworms or hookworms sometimes doesn’t affect tapeworms.
Being informed and understanding what worms you’re dealing with can make all the difference.
How Often Should You Deworm Your Dog?
Here’s the million-dollar question.
Some dog owners don’t even think about worming their canine companions until those parasites start to rear their ugly heads in feces. However, treating your dog and keeping them worm-free is about being proactive.
How often you administer dewormer products will depend on your pup’s age and lifestyle.
This may surprise some people, but puppies need deworming as often as once a week!
Generally, breeders will start the worming process once the puppy is two or three weeks old. At this young age, puppies are very susceptible to worms from their mother.
Their lives are pretty contained, as they can’t move or see much. All they do is feed, but that’s how early infestations occur.
To keep them safe, breeders will administer weekly dosings until they are about 12 weeks old. After that, they move on to a monthly worming schedule.
As an owner, it’s your responsibility to continue that routine after adoption. Whether you take your puppy home at the standard eight to ten weeks window or much later, you must keep up with deworming.
Speak to the breeder or shelter to ensure a seamless continuation.
Between the ages of twelve weeks and six months, you should provide monthly deworming treatments.
If you don’t think that worms are a problem, administer the medication as a precautionary measure.
Remember: Some worms take months to appear. Monthly doses kill any existing infections and offer protection from the next one!
Deworming Adult Dogs
At six months old, most veterinarians agree that you can decrease the frequency of deworming to every three to six months.
Now, most dogs will not reach adulthood at six months old. However, that age is when your pup’s immune system is strong enough to take care of infections.
They’re still susceptible to worms, but their natural immunity will do a lot to prevent frequent issues.
Of course, you can provide more frequent treatments if need be. Don’t wait until the subsequent scheduled treatment if you see live worms appearing in your dog’s poop!
Take them to your vet and get the issue taken care of as soon as possible!
Some vets may recommend monthly or bimonthly deworming if your dog is has a higher risk than most. Factors like age, geographical location, and lifestyle all come into play.
Some products also offer more long-term protection, which could determine how frequently your pup needs them.
Can I Give My Dog Dewormer Just in Case?
As we said earlier, keeping your dog safe from worms is about being proactive. You don’t have to wait until you start seeing symptoms to provide treatment!
It’s always a good idea to use wormer as a precaution, and we recommend sticking to the schedule above even if your dog doesn’t seem affected.
Worms can take time to develop. Eggs must hatch, and larvae have to grow before doing some significant damage.
Take tapeworms as an example.
They usually don’t start laying eggs or losing segments until they’re several inches long. So, your dog can have worms for months before any symptoms appear at all!
Dewormer will kill eggs and eradicate existing infections before they cause problems. As long as you’re following the proper dosing, it doesn’t hurt to be careful!
What Happens if You Give a Dog Too Much Wormer
Here’s a common concern that many dog owners have. Providing medication of any kind can be a little worrisome, but dewormers are particularly aggressive.
They use chemicals to kill living things inside your pup’s body! It’s no surprise that some owners are hesitant or overly cautious.
We recommend reading every bit of literature you can about a dewormer. Read the dosing instruction and safety guidelines on the package to understand potential risks and concerns.
If you’re still worried, work with your vet! They are all too familiar with dewormers and can put your mind at ease while treating your dog safely.
It is possible for dogs to overdose on dewormers. Luckily, those instances are rare. Overdoses usually only occur when you provide way too much medicine in a small timeframe.
These products are no joke, and you should treat them as serious medications.
Dogs can also suffer from allergic reactions and other unwanted side effects. Always keep an eye on your dog after treatment to ensure that they’re not having any issues.
Overdosing and allergic reactions aside, one of the most significant reasons you want to avoid providing too much dewormer is a buildup of drug tolerance.
If deworming becomes too frequent, your dog’s system becomes accustomed to the drugs in the product. The same goes for the worms you’re trying to treat.
Over time, you may notice that the dewormer, and any other dewormer with the same active ingredient, becomes less and less effective.
Eventually, the worms prevail, and eradicating them becomes even more difficult than before. Drug tolerance is a genuine issue that you must avoid.
Otherwise, you’ll have to turn to ultra-strong products that come with considerable possible side effects.
When to Give a Second Dose of Dewormer
We hear this question all the time.
“Can I worm my dog twice in one week?
Unfortunately, not all dewormers will provide you with the desired results right off the bat. Large-scale infections can take multiple doses to treat. So, how do you give an additional treatment without worrying about providing too much?
Generally, vets recommend only providing a single deworming dose every two weeks.
Avoid administering multiple treatments in one week, as the drugs could wreak havoc on your dog’s system.
If the worm infestation persists, visit a vet. It’s better to use a more potent medication to eliminate the problem than risk overdosing.
Deworming isn’t the most glamorous thing in the world, but it’s necessary for your pup’s health. Know when to provide dewormer and how often.
Once you fall into a routine, your dog should have no issues living a worm-free life!
Also Read: 5 Reasons Why your Dog’s Balls Turn Black