Most dogs probably have a few parasites floating around in their digestive tracts, but the immune systems of adult dogs are typically able to keep the invaders in check.
Puppies, on the other hand, can quickly become overwhelmed and develop a belly full of wriggling worms requiring a quality puppy dewormer.
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of puppy deworming, how to deworm puppies using a proper worming schedule, symptoms to look out for, and what to expect after deworming puppies.
Deworming Puppies: Why is it Important?
Puppy worms can actually cause quite a few health problems.
They are, quite literally, stealing some of the calories, vitamins, and minerals your young pup consumes. They can also cause terrible intestinal issues, lead to secondary infections and generally make your puppy feel horrible.
Worms in puppies (and other parasites) are also quite contagious, and puppies can pass them between each other several different times.
Fortunately, most common puppy worms are easy to eradicate, and they rarely cause serious problems if treated in a timely fashion.
But the puppy deworming process, as it is often called, can present a few surprises for first-time dog owners that don’t know what to expect.
We’ll explain some of the side effects of deworming puppies below along with a recommended quality dewormer for your puppy.
But let’s first review the basics of deworming a puppy.
Worms in Puppies are Common
First of all, it is important to understand that intestinal parasites are a natural occurrence, and although you’ll want to eliminate the problem as quickly as possible, they shouldn’t cause you to feel ashamed or as though you’ve neglected your puppy.
Even puppies and adult dogs raised in the best possible conditions will typically develop worm infestations at one point or another.
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to eliminate worms from your puppy (or adult dog). But you need to understand how puppies get worms in the first place to have a good chance of success.
The most frequently found parasitic worms within a puppy are roundworms. Almost every dog contracts them at some point in their lives, but they are more vulnerable to this worm when they are puppies. Puppies acquire it through various sources, making it difficult to contain, and thus, it easily spread.
Other worms that can affect the health of your puppy are whipworms, hookworms, and tapeworms (worms in feces that resemble rice or spaghetti).
Puppy Parasite Danger To Humans
Parasitic worms found in puppies are roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, tapeworms, etc. Indeed, humans are at serious risk from these parasites, especially roundworms.
Human consumption and illness are possible as a result of contact with contaminated soil or canine waste, which may contain these parasites.
For instance, the soil where pets leave their waste may become significantly overpopulated with roundworm eggs. The worms can infect people and cause damage to their eyes, lungs, hearts, and nervous systems.
Roundworms and hookworms are both zoonotic, which implies that they can spread to people and harm them. Children are particularly vulnerable to these parasites and can develop organ dysfunction, convulsions, or even blindness.
It has been recorded that in severe situations, roundworm infections have caused young children to lose an eye.
When to Deworm a Puppy? (Deworming Schedule)
Because almost all puppies likely have worms when they are young, most veterinarians recommend a pretty standard puppy worming schedule.
Typically, vets recommend worming puppies at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age. Then, they are given a while to rest and grow before getting two more worming treatments at 12 and 16 weeks of age.
It may also be wise to deworm puppies whenever they exhibit the signs or symptoms of a parasite infestation.
Just be sure to work with your vet to ensure that you give your puppy the best possible care and that you eliminate the parasites quickly and completely.
If you aren’t sure whether your dog has worms or not, you can do one of two things:
- You can take your puppy to the vet and have a fecal sample analyzed.
- You can use a home test kit, which will allow you to have a laboratory perform the fecal analysis for you.
If you want to try the second option, you may want to consider the Perfect Pet Product’s Fecal Worm Test.
With this fecal test kit, you’ll simply need to collect a small sample of your dog’s feces (about 1 to 2 teaspoons) and send it into the lab.
Within 24 hours of delivery, the lab will contact you and let you know which worms (if any) are infecting your puppy.
This test for dog worms is quite affordable and will allow you to avoid the fees associated with a visit to the vet. Additionally, Perfect Pet Products also provides discounts on their worming products for customers who use their test kit.
How Do Dogs Get Worms?
Typically, the process works as such:
- You take your puppy outside to go to the bathroom or play.
- While sniffing and licking the ground, your puppy accidentally ingests parasite eggs.
- These eggs hatch upon reaching your puppy’s intestines and begin maturing into adult worms or protozoans.
- The parasites begin feeding on your puppy’s blood or the contents of his intestines.
- The parasites begin reproducing and releasing eggs into your puppy’s intestinal tract.
- Your puppy passes these parasite eggs while defecating.
- Your puppy (or another puppy) then ingest these eggs and starts the process anew.
It also bears mentioning that puppies often contract worms while still in their mother’s uterus or via their mother’s breast milk. Because of these two routes, it is safe to say that nearly 100% of young puppies are infected with worms and require treatment.
So, you’ll want to use a quality dog dewormer to eliminate the parasites and help keep your pet healthy.
A puppy dewormer usually works by killing the adult parasites living in your pet’s intestines. This prevents them from reproducing and allows the dead parasites to be eliminated from your pet’s body.
Sometimes it is necessary to administer deworming medication several times before you’ll completely fix the problem, and you’ll have to practice good hygiene to prevent your puppy from becoming re-infected.
But fortunately, there are a number of very effective puppy dewormers on the market, which will make the process pretty easy.
But before we discuss the best dewormers for puppies, you need to understand the symptoms that can indicate your puppy is parasitized and learn about the different types of parasites that commonly cause problems.
Symptoms of Worms in Dogs and Puppies
It’s important to learn to recognize the signs that may indicate your new puppy is suffering from worms or other intestinal parasites. This way, you can treat the problem proactively and help avoid serious complications.
Some worm infestations fail to generate any obvious symptoms, but the following are some of the most common symptoms of worms in puppies:
- Failure to grow or gain weight
- Increased appetite
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Skin or coat problems
- Itchy skin
- Potbellied appearance
- “Butt scooting” (dragging his rear end across the ground)
But perhaps the most obvious sign of a worm infestation occurs when a puppy passes adult worms when he poops.
This can be quite upsetting for some owners, but it is quite common and no cause for serious concern. You simply need to administer a good dewormer, so you can eliminate the problem.
However, it is important to use a deworming medication that will kill the parasites that are infesting your dog, as there are a number of different types that commonly afflict puppies. We’ll discuss some of the most common types of parasites that infect puppies below.
What are the Types of Worms in Puppies?
Although owners and vets often refer to parasitized puppies as having “worms,” there are several different types of intestinal parasites that can afflict dogs. Coccidia, for example, are single-celled protozoans that are not worms at all.
There are also several different types of parasitic worms. Tapeworms belong to a group of organisms called flatworms, while roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms are all members of the same group.
Some of the most common types of dog worms and parasites that afflict puppies include:
Collectively, these intestinal parasites exhibit different life histories and harm dogs and cats in different ways.
Treatments for Puppy Worms
Fortunately, there are several broad-spectrum dewormers available, which will eliminate several different types of worms, protozoans, and other parasites. These types of medications will make it easier to treat your dog and help him feel better as quickly as possible.
Check out our review of the best dog dewormers to find some of the best options on the market.
However, if you’d like a quick recommendation, it is hard to go wrong with Excel 8 in 1 Safe Guard Canine Dewormer.
Designed to be sprinkled on top of your pet’s food three times a day for a period of three days, this is one of the easiest puppy dewormers to administer.
It is also quite affordable, as it costs less than most other over-the-counter dewormers for puppies.
Do note that this product is only appropriate for puppies who are at least 6 weeks old.
Just be sure to keep your vet in the loop when deworming your puppy, and always follow the directions on the package explicitly.
Deworming Puppies: What to Expect After
A common question with deworming puppies is what to expect after deworming a dog?
Normally, there are not many visible signs that directly indicate the presence of worms or other parasites after a puppy is dewormed.
Your dog may vomit, suffer from diarrhea, drag his rear end on the carpet or show disinterest in his food, but you won’t see anything unusual, as parasite eggs are not often visible to the naked eye.
However, when you give your dog a deworming medication, the adult worms and protozoans living in your dog’s intestines are killed. This causes them to release their grip on your puppy’s intestinal tract, and they’re ultimately expelled via the anus.
After First Few Hours of Deworming Treatment
Like giving your pet a treat, deworming your dog is a fairly easy process. There are lots of deworming tablets available, but for best results, we recommend that you contact your vet before administering any deworming medication to your dog.
In fact, to ensure your dog completely consumes the tablet, if you use a tablet-based deworming therapy, you may want to cover the pill in a reward like cheese, peanut butter, turkey, or wet food. Some pills don’t even need to be disguised in food because they are already flavored to taste like a treat to your pet.
Dogs may occasionally vomit quickly after taking a dose of any oral medication. Keep an eye on your pet for vomiting for two to three hours after giving them the deworming tablet if they are a puppy or have a history of drinking or eating food too quickly and getting sick. If your dog throws up the tablet whole, wait a short while for them to settle down before giving them the medication again.
After a Few Days of Deworming Treatment
Roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms are typically treated with deworming medicines by paralyzing and killing the parasites; tapeworms are typically killed and divided into smaller segments. You won’t even see any intestinal worms in your dog’s stool if it has hookworms or whipworms since they are so little.
Even though your dog has been dewormed, still it’s common to find live worms in their stools. For a few days after treatment, you might notice dead worms in your dog’s feces, or your dog can experience diarrhea as the dead worms are digested. Regardless of what you notice in their feces, recently dewormed dogs typically act normally.
If you’d like to see a puppy eliminating a rather significant quantity of large worms, watch this video.
Caution: While extremely educational, this video may be very disturbing to some viewers.
Deworming Side Effects in Puppies
The side effects of deworming a puppy can be a bit startling.
If you’ve selected an appropriate deworming medication for your puppy and administered it in accordance with the product’s instructions, you shouldn’t have to worry about many problems.
However, you should always consult your veterinarian for assistance in the diagnosis and proper treatment of worms.
A few common side effects in deworming puppies include:
- Your pup may suffer from minor intestinal issues, including diarrhea, but this should pass within a few days.
- Some puppies may also act a little different for a few days while their body eliminates the worms, but as long as they return to normal and resume typical elimination habits within about three days, there’s no reason to worry about these types of deworming side effects.
- Although rare, there are a few serious dewormer side effects that can occur in a small number of dogs. If your dog exhibits blood in his stool, ongoing diarrhea (that lasts longer than three days), vomits more than once or appears disinterested in food for more than a day or two, contact your veterinarian.
Of course, serious side effects of deworming – trembling, uncoordinated behaviors, extreme lethargy, breathing difficulties and similar signs – should always trigger an immediate trip to the vet, but such symptoms are extremely rare.
Puppy Deworming FAQs
Ans. If you see worms in your puppy’s feces, it usually means your dog is suffering from a roundworm infestation. Roundworms are several inches long and they typically look like spaghetti.
You may also see whipworms in your dog’s poop, but these typically look like small threads or hairs, which are enlarged at one end. You may also see worms in your puppy’s vomit or sputum.
Ans. The best way to get rid of a worm infestation is to work closely with your vet. Your vet will likely recommend a routine deworming schedule for puppies, and he or she will advise you about treating adult dogs on an as-needed basis.
However, there are several over-the-counter dog worming products you can use to treat your dog. If you’d like to treat your dog’s worm problem at home, be sure to check out our guide to home remedies for worms in dogs.
Ans. Yes, particularly in the case of roundworm infestations. Such worms are typically in the process of dying.
Ans. Your puppy will begin passing worms approximately 12 hours following the administration of the dewormer, and he’ll continue to poop worms for several days. In some cases, it may take up as long as 2 weeks to completely expel them from his body.
Ans. The decision on when to deworm a puppy should be based on the advice of your vet, and anytime he produces a fecal sample that tests positive for worms.
Additionally, new puppies should be put through routine deworming at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 weeks of age. You’ll want to continue to deworm a dog every three months or so for the rest of his life.
Ans. Puppies can experience a variety of mild side effects after being given a dewormer.
Some of the most common include mild nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite, intestinal disturbances, and a general sense of feeling unwell. These are all normal side effects, which should pass after a few days.
However, signs of an allergic reaction, including hives, swelling of the mouth, throat or face, or breathing difficulties, necessitate immediate veterinary assistance.
Fortunately, allergic reactions to worming medications are quite rare.
Ans. Most deworming side effects should disappear within a few days. If your dog continues to exhibit troubling symptoms for longer than this, contact your veterinarian.
Ans. As mentioned above, the default deworming schedule for puppies requires them to be wormed at weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12. Your puppy will begin pooping worms living within the intestine about 12 hours after providing a dewormer for the first time.
Ans. Typically, worming medications must be administered several times over the course of 1 to 4 weeks to completely eliminate the infestation, as many are only effective for killing one stage in the organism’s lifecycle.
You will notice your puppy expelling worms after about 12 hours upon administering the deworming medication. A second deworming is often needed two weeks later to eliminate worms that may have since hatched.
You’ll need to repeat the treatment as directed by your vet to fully eradicate any immature larvae that may reinfect your puppy. It’s important to note that deworming schedules may vary depending on the climate where you reside and your dog’s activity.
Ans. Worms rarely cause serious health problems when their populations are kept in check, but the immune systems of young puppies are unable to cope with high numbers of worms.
This can lead to a number of serious health problems, including anemia, malnourishment, intestinal irritation and, if any of the worms migrate outside of the intestinal tract, organ damage.
Many puppies eventually die from excessive worm infestations.
Ans. One of the most troubling things about worm infestations is that some of the parasites living in your dog’s body may sicken you or your family. In some cases, these worms are even more likely to cause serious health problems in people than dogs.
This is part of the reason that it is so important to ensure your dog remains worm-free.
It is also very important to keep your home clean and encourage your children to wash their hands anytime they touch the family pet.
Ans. Most worms and protozoans can be spread from one dog to another. Two notable exceptions include heartworms, which are transmitted via mosquito bites, and tapeworms, which dogs usually contract when they inadvertently eat fleas.
The contagious nature of most other worms is part of the reason it is so important to keep your puppy’s environment clean – particularly when battling a worm infestation.
Ans. You are probably looking at portions of a tapeworm that are shed as part of the worm’s reproductive process. They are often likened to grains of rice, and they can be brown, yellow or white.
Pro Tip: Consider a Probiotic Supplement When Deworming a Puppy
Because some worming medications may kill off some of the good bacteria in your dog’s digestive tract, it may be helpful to provide your dog with a probiotic supplement while going through the worming process.
Probiotic supplements can help replenish the beneficial bacteria living in your dog’s intestines and help ensure that he digests his food appropriately.
Check out our comprehensive review of the best probiotic supplements for dogs to compare the top options of the market.
Deworming puppies is a pretty simple task, and it will greatly improve your puppy’s chances of thriving. But you’ll want to select a good puppy dewormer for your pet and make sure that you follow the administration instructions to the letter.
With a little luck, your puppy will remain worm-free and you can stop looking at worms crawling around in his poop.
Resources and Further Reading:
Dr. Lillian is a D.V.M. passionate about promoting awareness of dogs. She shares her expertise through her blogs on canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology, and emergency care. Dr. Lillian is committed to contributing to animal welfare.