Dogs, especially young puppies, have the bad habit of licking, chewing, and eating anything in their path. This sometimes includes non-food items, such as dirt, grass, trash, or even dead animals they may come across. Unfortunately, these types of things often carry harmful parasites like worms that could cause your dog to become sick.
Deworming is the process of removing worms from your pet’s stomach, a treatment that is generally repeated every three to four months. Puppies as young as two to three weeks old can benefit from deworming to prevent illness and stunted growth. As worms can be transferred to humans, deworming is crucial for all dogs and puppies.
Types of Worms
There are multiple types of worms that puppies and dogs can pick up. Some of the most common include:
- Roundworms – This type of worm is most commonly contracted through infected feces or dirt. They appear as thin, spaghetti-like parasites that span approximately 12cm long and can create a pot-bellied appearance in dogs. Some symptoms of roundworms in pets include weakness, weight loss, vomiting, mucus in the stool, diarrhea, and stunted growth.
- Tapeworms – A tapeworm can infect a puppy when the dog eats its larvae from a host animal, such as a mouse or flea. Although there are usually no obvious symptoms, you may discover small rice-like segments around the dog’s anus or in their stool. Tapeworms often cause a dog to eat more than normal but with no obvious weight gain.
- Hookworms – One of the most dangerous types of parasites is hookworms. Hookworms can be transmitted from the mother dog to its puppies before birth or while the puppies are suckling. Some symptoms that could indicate that your dog has hookworms are lethargy, anemia, poor appetite, and black stools containing blood.
- Whipworms – Whipworms can sometimes find their way into a puppy through the animal’s digestive tract. Once inside, the worms can cause chronic bowel inflammation. You may notice that your dog is having frequent diarrhea, has mucus in its stools, or is experiencing weight loss.
- Coccidias – This type of organism can reside in a dog’s intestines. It is sometimes ingested when a puppy or dog consumes raw or undercooked meat, including from rodents. Common symptoms of coccidias in dogs include fever, diarrhea, weight loss, and a loss of appetite.
- Ringworms – Ringworms are caused by a fungus that lives on the skin. These worms can be highly contagious and can be transmitted to humans. A dog with ringworm may develop bare oval patches on its skin. Ringworms can be detected under ultraviolet light at your vet.
- Heartworms – Heartworms can enter a dog through the bite of a mosquito, potentially causing lung or heart damage, coughing, fatigue, and lethargy. In severe cases, this condition can be fatal. Although heartworms are difficult to cure, they are easy to prevent.
Puppies should receive a deworming treatment based on the following schedule or as recommended by your vet:
- Every 2 weeks until three months old, starting at age 2 weeks
- Monthly from three months old to six months old
- After six months of age, follow adult recommendations. Dogs six months and older should also use a heartworm preventative that is effective against roundworms and hookworms.
Adult dogs should receive a deworming treatment at least twice a year, or approximately every six months. If your dog participates in activities that could increase their risk of acquiring parasites, your vet may recommend more frequent deworming treatments.
If you have recently purchased or adopted a dog, your new pet should be dewormed as soon as they arrive at its new home. The deworming treatment should be repeated two weeks after the initial treatment. From this point on, you can begin following a regular adult deworming schedule.
If your puppy or dog has worms, it’s important to know what you can expect after administering a deworming treatment. A dewormer typically starts to work within two to six hours. How a deworming medication works will depend on the type of medication; however, most will dissolve the worms or paralyze them. Either way, the worms must be passed out of the dog’s body.
After deworming your pet, it’s common to see worms in their feces. This occurs when the medication paralyzes the worms and they are passed from the intestines into your pet’s poop. It is also common for pets to experience diarrhea after a deworming treatment. This should last just a day or two until the worms have passed from the body.
It’s important to remember that some types of worms that infect puppies and dogs can also infect humans. This means that you should use extra care when disposing of your dog’s feces. Larvae and worm eggs can remain in dog poop and the surrounding soil and grass for an extended period of time.
Importance of Deworming
Deworming is an excellent way to help maintain your dog’s health and wellness. A parasite infection comes with many uncomfortable symptoms, such as weight loss, skin problems, gastrointestinal illnesses, and a myriad of other problems. The sooner that you remove these worms from your dog’s body, the sooner your pet will regain his health. If you suspect that your puppy or dog may have worms, or you would like to learn more about the deworming process, reach out to your vet to discuss treatment.