Dogs

How often should puppies be dewormed? Essential puppy deworming guide

Did you know that puppies can be born with worms? And that an infected puppy poses a health hazard to you and your whole family? Not to mention that it’s not doing the poor puppy any good…

As a vet, I firmly believe that it’s up to every veterinarian to educate his clients and talk about the risks. This post is my round-up of everything pet parents should know about deworming, including how often should puppies be dewormed ☺️


While I am a veterinarian, this article is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. If you have any medical concerns about your pet, consult your vet immediately. Always seek professional assistance if you are unsure of your pet’s health.




This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.



What is deworming and why is it important for puppies

Puppies have immature immune systems. They also have a strong tendency to explore the world by tasting, sniffing, and eating things they shouldn’t 😊 This makes them susceptible to several diseases and infections. 

One of the most common health problems in puppies are worms. 

Because their immune system is not as effective, puppies are also prone to more severe signs than adult dogs. If left untreated, a worm infection can cause death.

Another important reason why you should deworm your pup regularly is that you or other family members can also get infected!

So what exactly is “deworming” or “worming”? It’s the process of removing internal parasites from your dog’s body.

Why you should regularly deworm your puppy

The different types of worms puppies can get

Several types of worms can infect puppies. The most common types of intestinal worms are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.

Each of these parasites affects puppies differently and can cause a variety of symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, poor appetite, lethargy, and dry coat.

Roundworms:

Roundworms are the most common type of intestinal worms in dogs.

There are different types of roundworms, but puppies get mostly infected with Toxocara canis (dog roundworm).

These are long, spaghetti-like (sorry, don’t know how else to describe them 😟) parasites that reside in small intestines.

Pregnant dogs can pass roundworms on their unborn puppies. This is why deworming the dam is important. 

Older puppies can get roundworms by ingesting infectious worm eggs that were eliminated by other infected animals. 

The important thing about roundworms is that they are zoonosis, which means they can infect humans. 

Tapeworms:

Another common type of worm in dogs. They are long, flat worms that live in the small intestine and can grow up to several meters in length. 

Tapeworms are made up of segments called proglottids, each of which contains male and female reproductive organs. As the tapeworm matures, these proglottids are shed and passed in the host’s feces, where they can infect other animals or humans if ingested.

Puppies can become infected with tapeworms by ingesting fleas or small animals, such as rodents or rabbits, that are infected with tapeworm larvae. Ingesting contaminated food or water can also lead to tapeworm infection.

But the most common intermediate hosts for tapeworms are fleas. Tapeworms have a complicated life cycle. The flea larvae get infected by ingesting the tapeworm eggs. The eggs stay in their bodies until adulthood. The dog will get infected by eating adult fleas during scratching.  

This is one of the reasons why you should take flea prevention seriously. Here is a detailed guide on how to tell if your puppy has fleas and the best ways to treat them.

Infected animals pass segments of tapeworms in their stool. These are visible and look like small grains of rice in your dog’s poop.

Hookworms:

Hookworms are small, thin parasitic worms that attach themselves to the intestinal wall and live off their host’s blood supply. In case of a massive infestation, they can cause severe anemia and death. 

Infected animals can pass hundreds of parasite eggs into their environment. Here they hatch and remain alive for several weeks or even months. 

Puppies can get infected when they lick infected surfaces, contaminated soil, or their paws. Even sniffing infected feces poses a high risk of infection.

Dog owners should be aware that hookworms can also infect human family members! 

Whipworms:

They are small, thread-like worms living in the host’s large intestine and cecum.

Whipworm infection can occur when an animal ingests contaminated soil, food, or water that contains whipworm eggs. The eggs then hatch and the larvae burrow into the lining of the intestine where they mature into adult worms. 

Whipworm eggs can survive in the environment for many months, making it difficult to completely eliminate them from the environment.

The signs are usually mild, however, in case of a massive infestation they can lead to diarrhea, weight loss, and occasionally anemia. 

Heartworms:

Now, as you can guess, these are not intestinal parasites. But they are one of the most dangerous ones. 

Heartworms are transmitted by infected mosquitos. After infecting the animal they go through several stages and end up in the heart and blood vessels. Here they cause irritation, inflammation, and loss of function. 

While heartworms are dangerous, they are also preventable. I have a whole post on Heartworm infections in dogs and how to prevent it where you can learn all the details. 

Can puppies be born with worms?

Yes, a puppy can be born with a worm infestation. This happens when the dam is not dewormed, and the larvae can pass from her to unborn puppies. 

Another way how small puppies can get worms is through the mother’s milk.

Responsible breeders will show you the deworming schedules of their puppies as well as their mums. 

Printable puppy planner

Signs of worms in puppies

While there are different types of worms, there are some general signs you can watch out for. 

Signs of intestinal worms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Growth stagnation
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Painful belly
  • Bloated belly
  • Scooting the bottom on the ground
  • Vomiting
  • Dull or flaky coat
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Pale gums
  • Anemia and/or other nutritional deficiencies
  • Blood in stool
  • In case of tapeworm infection: tapeworm segments visible in the stool
  • Some larvae can cause pneumonia

If your puppy has a heartworm infection, there are only very mild signs at the beginning of the disease. However, as the disease progresses the symptoms become more serious. 

Symptoms of heartworm in dogs may include:

  • coughing (mild or persistent)
  • reluctance to exercise
  • decreased appetite
  • fatigue
  • fainting
  • labored breathing
  • blue discoloration of the gums
  • accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity

If you suspect that your puppy has worms, you should take him to a veterinarian right away for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Early intervention can help prevent more serious health issues.

printable puppy planner

How are worms diagnosed?

For diagnosing intestinal parasites your vet will need a stool sample. While some worms leave visible segments in the stool, most of them can be seen only under a microscope. 

If you have a suspicion that your furry baby might have worms, you can bring your puppy’s stool to your next vet visit. 

Puppies should be tested regularly, even when they don’t show any symptoms (yet). 

Heartworms are diagnosed from a blood sample. 

How often puppies should be dewormed

The first treatment is recommended when the puppies are 2-3 weeks of age. This helps to ensure that any worms that may have been passed down from the mother are eliminated and the puppy’s health is protected.

Then every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old. 

From there it varies, some vets recommend deworming on a monthly basis until the puppy is 4-6 months of age, and some switch directly to deworming every 3 months. So just follow your vet’s recommendation. 

Older puppies can follow the worming schedules of adult dogs, which is every 6 months or at least once a year. 

The exact deworming schedule may vary depending on several factors such as the puppy’s age, overall health, living environment, and the type of dewormer used.

The best way is to talk to your vet and have him recommend a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs. 

At our clinic, we always recommended a monthly deworming schedule if there were small children or a pregnant woman in the family. 

Adult dogs should be dewormed at least every 6 months. If you have young kids you can deworm your pup every 3 months. 

How often should puppies be dewormed? The first treatment is recommended when the puppies are 2-3 weeks of age Then every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old After that deworm your puppy monthly or every 3 months, depending on your vet's recommendations Older puppies can be dewormed every 6 months Adult dogs should be dewormed every 6 months or at least once a year. Again, follow your vet's recommendations

What treatments are available for deworming a puppy

There are different ways you can deworm your puppy. Dewormers come in different forms such as tablets, liquids, or topical applications. Follow your veterinarian’s or the producer’s instructions carefully on the dosage and the route of administration.

The deworming medication works by killing the worms in the dog’s intestines. Depending on the type of product used, it may take a few days to eliminate the worms. In severe cases, a follow-up dose is necessary.

Popular deworming options include tablets, liquid medications, spot-on treatments, and chewables. It’s important to always read the labels carefully and speak with your veterinarian before administering any type of medication.

For young puppies, I recommend using Panacur oral paste or Drontal Plus Puppy Worming Suspension.

Please follow your vet’s recommendation and the manufacturer’s instructions!

Many available dewormers are “broad-spectrum” products that treat a wide range of parasites. They offer combinations of prevention against external parasites (fleas, ticks, and mosquitos) and treatment of intestinal parasites. However, most of them don’t work against tapeworms. But they are still very convenient.

Potential side-effects:

Certified deworming products are effective and have very few side effects, so you don’t have to worry about your baby ☺️ The active ingredients are deadly to parasites but harmless to mammals. 

In a few cases, the puppy can get an upset stomach and vomit or get mild diarrhea.

Problems can arise in severe cases when large numbers of worms die at the same time. This can have an impact on a dog’s health. But in this case, the animal needs to be monitored by a vet and get special deworming treatment.

How often should you deworm your puppy?
How often should you deworm your puppy?

Deworming puppies: what to expect

Now you know why is deworming important and how to do it properly. But what exactly can you expect after deworming your young furry friend? It depends on the severity of the worm infestation.

In cases where the puppy has a severe worm infection, deworming can cause diarrhea and/or vomiting. But here I must say that if your pup has that many worms, you should be working with a veterinarian and following a special deworming treatment.

In milder cases, your pup will eliminate the dead worms in his stool. I know that sounds gross, but they can’t just stay in his belly… 🤷‍♀️

In very mild cases, you might not even notice the dead worms in his stool. 

If you deworm your pup regularly, you won’t even notice any changes. So I highly recommend sticking to a proper schedule. 

How to prevent worms in dogs and puppies

You cannot completely eliminate the risk of a worm infection. However, you can greatly reduce it using a combination of measures, including good hygiene practices and regular deworming.  

Here are some tips for preventing worm infections in dogs and puppies:

  • Practice good hygiene: Pick up your dog’s feces promptly and dispose of them properly. Keep your dog’s living area clean and disinfect it regularly.
  • Prevent access to contaminated food and water: Make sure your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Avoid feeding your dog raw meat, which can contain worm larvae (you can freeze it for 48h to kill bacteria and parasites).
  • Control fleas and ticks: Fleas and ticks can carry tapeworm larvae, so it is important to keep your dog protected with tick-preventive and flea medication.
  • Prevent heartworm infection: Use certified products and don’t forget that most of them need to be given monthly. Don’t skip a dose! The most common mistake is that people forget to give their dog his dose on time.
  • Regular deworming: Follow a proper deworming schedule and use certified products.
  • Regular veterinary checkups: Puppies should be regularly checked for worms. 
  • Personal hygiene: Wash your hands thoroughly after picking up your dog’s feces. Wash your hands often and don’t let the puppy lick your face (! especially important for young children).

Most common questions about puppy deworming

When I talk about deworming, there are a few questions new puppy owners ask often. Since they don’t fall into any category above, I’ll just post them here ☺️

How much dewormer to give a puppy?

It depends on your puppy’s age, health, and weight. The best way is to read the product instructions carefully. The products are usually dosed according to a dog’s weight, so you don’t have to be afraid of overdosing your new family member. The only exception to this rule is if your vet gave you specific dosing instructions. In this case, follow your vet’s recommendation. 

Should puppies be dewormed every month?

I would recommend deworming your puppy every month if you have small kids, elderly people, or a pregnant woman in the family. 

Some vets recommend monthly deworming until your puppy is 6 months old, others skip this step and recommend deworming every 3 months for puppies that have a lower risk of worm infection. 

Some like to combine it with monthly heartworm prevention. This is especially important if you live in a heartworm-endemic area.

Talk to your vet about your lifestyle and how much contact your puppy has with other dogs. He is the most qualified to give you an individual deworming schedule tailored to your needs.

How do I know when to deworm my puppy?

In most cases, you don’t. A healthy puppy with a mild infection will not show any signs that he has worms. But they are still there and can cause serious health problems if left untreated. The best thing you can do is to deworm your puppy regularly. 

Can I deworm my puppy myself?

Yes, you can. There are several products on the market you can use. Talk to your vet about which is best for your pup and then give it regularly according to your deworming schedule. 

what to bring when pick up puppy from the breeder - picture of a cute puppy sleeping

Worms are a common problem in puppies and can cause a variety of health issues. There are several types of worms that can affect dogs, including roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. Symptoms of worms in dogs may include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, and a potbellied appearance.

It’s important to have your pup regularly checked by a veterinarian for worms, especially if he shows any of the above symptoms. Your veterinarian can perform a fecal exam to check for the presence of worms and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

The risk of worm infection can be reduced by practicing good hygiene, such as picking up and properly disposing of your dog’s feces, and by regularly deworming your puppy according to your veterinarian’s recommendations. 

Additionally, keeping your puppy on a regular schedule of flea and tick prevention can help reduce the risk of certain types of worm infections.

Overall, deworming is an important aspect of maintaining your puppy’s health and preventing the spread of parasites to other pets or humans. Working closely with your veterinarian to develop a deworming plan for your puppy can help ensure his health and well-being.

So that’s it from me for now, happy puppy parenting! 🥰

PS: If you are as crazy about animals as I am, subscribe to my newsletter! Now you will get a cute printable pet planner as a bonus 🤗

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