Everything you need to know about worming your dog
Your pet dog relies on you to keep them safe and well, and that includes looking after their health. Worms are common in dogs, but can be fatal if unnoticed and left untreated, so whether you have a new puppy or an older dog, they should follow a worming schedule to help keep worms at bay.
It isn’t nice for your pet if they get worms and, in some instances, worms can be passed to humans, below is everything you need to know about worms and worming your dog to keep your pet healthy and worm free.
How do you know if your dog has worms?
You can’t always see the symptoms of worms and even healthy-looking pets could be carrying worms that are feeding and growing inside their intestines without you knowing. This is why prevention is better than cure.
If your pet has worms, you might see worms in their poo or vomit, or notice them around their bottom. This can cause itching and you might see your dog dragging its bum across the floor to help soothe the itch – this is called ‘scooting’.
The following symptoms can also indicate that your dog has worms, so don’t ignore them:
- Weight loss
- Dry, coarse coat
- Increased appetite and constant hunger
- Blood in their poo
- Bloated stomach
If you suspect worms (or see them!) you can take a poo sample to the vet so that they can advise the best treatment. You can also wrap any worms up in damp cotton wool to take them for analysis too.
What are the different types of worms that can affect dogs?
Worms are small parasites and there are six different types that can affect your pet dog:
- Roundworms – intestinal
- Tapeworms – intestinal
- Hookworms – intestinal
- Whipworms – intestinal
- Heartworms – bloodstream/heart
- Lungworms – airways
Dogs are infected by the above parasites in different ways. The effects, symptoms and treatments all vary too so it’s important that you speak to your vet to get the right treatment.
How do dogs get worms?
Dogs and puppies can get worms from a few different places. Make sure you’re aware where these are so that you can minimise exposure.
From their mum
Roundworm is the most common worm affecting pets and one way a puppy can get this is via their mother. This can happen in two different ways.
- From an infected mother to the unborn puppies in the womb via the placenta
- Through the mother’s milk during nursing
Who would have thought that your dog keeping themselves clean could lead to worms? Roundworms can attach themselves to your dog’s coat and if your dog swallows them whilst grooming, they may become infected.
Similarly, fleas can carry tapeworm larvae and if your dog swallows fleas during grooming, these can develop into adult tapeworm in the dog’s intestine. Read this guide for more information on identifying other external parasites.
From contaminated soil
If your dog walks on contaminated soil, hookworms can penetrate the skin that touches the infected soil.
Accidentally eating contaminated soil can also cause your dog to get worms. Roundworms, hookworms and whipworms can contaminate the soil through larvae and eggs in faeces from an infected animal. Dogs are often rooting in the garden or on their walks so they can easily come into contact with and ingest these worm eggs.
This is why owners should always clean up after their pets!
Eating infected animals
If your dog likes to hunt or scavenge on its walks and eats an animal that is infected with worms, then they could easily be infected. They can catch worms from eating rodents or birds that could be infected themselves. Raw dog food can also cause this problem, which is why owners should deworm dogs regularly.
How often should I worm my dog?
You should give both dogs and puppies regular de-worming treatment.
Puppies have a high risk of infection so you must follow a puppy worming schedule. Puppies should first be wormed at three weeks old, then every two weeks after until they are 12 weeks old, and then monthly until they are six months old. Your puppy can then be moved on to an adult dog worming schedule.
There is no need to over worm your puppy. Rather than that having positive health benefits, your puppy could actually build up a tolerance which you don’t want! Speak to your vet and make sure your puppy worming treatment is suited to their age and weight.
Dogs should be dewormed a least every three months. As mentioned above, deworming should be more frequent if your dog eats raw food or if they hunt, and also if they live with young children or anyone with a weakened immune system. You can chat to your vet if you think more frequent treatment may be necessary.
How do I treat my dog for worms?
It is important that you follow a worming treatment routine to keep your dog worm free. Worming treatments are available in injection, tablet, and spot-on format and you should speak to your vet to get their advice on the best worming treatment for you and your dog. If you buy your worming treatment from a pet shop, make sure you are using the right treatment and dose for your dog.
How long do dog worming tablets take to work?
The time it takes for dog worming tablets to work varies, but usually worm treatments start to kill the intestinal worms around 2-6 hours after being administered. After you’ve wormed your dog, some worms will dissolve inside, and some might be excreted in your dog’s poo or vomit – you might see worms in their poo for up to a week. Your dog should start to feel better when the worm treatment is working.
Can you prevent worms in your dog?
- Make sure you clean up after your dog immediately after they’ve been to the toilet and dispose of their poo correctly
- Regularly clean and disinfect your dog’s food and water bowls
- Regularly wash your hands and make sure your family does too
- Use dog worming treatments regularly!
and follow a worming treatment routine. This should start from when your puppy is three weeks old and continue through adulthood. However, if your dog does get worms having pet insurance can help with the cost of treatment, find out more at Argos Pet Insurance. For more help and advice on looking after your dog, check out our We Talk Pet blog.