Deworming Your Puppy

Deworming your puppy is a critical part of puppy care. 98% of all puppies have worms that they contracted from their mother before they were born. This is true of the most careful, clean and meticulous breeders.  Also, certainly true if the puppy comes from a questionable background.

There are many different species of worms which can affect your puppy’s growth and development. These worms are intestinal parasites.  You probably won’t see them in the puppy’s stool unless they have a severe infestation. Symptoms of worms could include a dull coat, a bloated tummy, vomiting, diarrhea, or evidence in the stool.  There may be no sign at all until they are heavily infected.  Deworming your puppy will prevent this from happening.

Deworming Your Puppy For Roundworms

The most common type of dewormed found in puppies are roundworms.  Roundworms, as you might expect, are round and a common description is “spaghetti-like”. These ascarids are very common in nature. They can survive outside a host in a cyst stage for a long time. Grassy areas are common places to find any number of parasitic cysts.

When deworming your puppy, you need to repeat it at least twice. Three times is better still. The deworming your puppy  procedure needs to be done at two week intervals to follow the life-cycle of the parasite. Most eggs will hatch in that two weeks. The first deworming your puppy medication kills anything that is in its adult stage. The follow up treatments kill anything that has hatched in the mean time. You can see why it may be advisable to repeat deworming your puppy a third time. In case any residual eggs had yet to hatch. Also if any remaining adults laid new eggs.

It is a good idea to follow the final deworming your puppy with a microscopic fecal exam. This is done at your vet’s office a couple weeks after the final dewormed. This will make sure no eggs are present. Your vet will need a very fresh fecal sample. Usually no more than an hour old.

Intestinal parasites can cause many problems for the puppy. They can become malnourished, despite how much they eat.  If they are always sharing their nutrition with their unwelcome companions they won’t grow well. They will be more susceptible to disease despite vaccines.  They may have chronic diarrhea and vomiting.  Also they may never reach their standard body weight or muscle mass.

Some species of intestinal parasites are transmissible to humans. Children who have a less developed immune system and are more likely to be in the vicinity of the worms or eggs.  Round dewormed especially can infect young children. Children inadvertently put their hands in their mouth or roll around in the grass with the puppy.  It is possible, though less likely to contract other species of worms.

Deworming Your Puppy For Tapeworms

Tapeworms are among the most difficult to get rid of.  They are a flat, segmented worm. The head of the tapeworm burrows into the intestine wall and segments break off and are expelled with the feces. You may see wriggling rice-like segments in the stool or dry sawdust – like flakes stuck in the coat around the puppy’s anus.  Each segment contains thousands of eggs and ingestion will cause a recurrent infestation.

Fleas are the vector for the tapeworm.  They carry the tapeworm from one host to the next. When an animal bites a flea, the tapeworm larva finds it’s way to the digestive tract where it develops and inhabits the intestine. Tapeworms can be very difficult to get rid of.  Dislodging the head can require multiple deworming your puppy attempts. If you do not kill the dewormed at the source, it will regenerate from the head.

There are actually very few medications that work effectively against tapeworms.  Many of which can be very hard on the puppy.  Whichever medication you choose, you should be sure to consult your veterinarian before you use it.

Drontal is the best general dewormer on the market today. It is a wide spectrum dewormer and does get tapes. If your puppy definitely has tapes. Then it is a good idea to follow up with a species specific dewormer. That is, one that just gets tapes.


Whipworms are comparatively quite small, about 1/4 inch long. They are rarely seen because they live in the cecum and colon. They cause severe irritation to the lining of these areas resulting in watery, bloody diarrhea. Whipworms are specific to dogs and are not infectious to people.

Hookworms are a species that do NOT need a host to be transmitted.  If the temperature and humidity are adequate. The eggs which are expelled in feces, may develop into the first larval stage.  Larva can survive in damp grasses until a host animal happens by. Infection occurs by ingestion or penetration of the skin.

A dog that walks through an infected area could ingest them by licking his feet.  They may penetrate the skin on his feet and move into a blood vessel. Then to the heart and lungs, be coughed up and swallowed where they will reside, firmly attached.

These worms can cause blood loss leading to anemia, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, poor coat, and general poor health.

This worm can infect humans.  Children are particularly susceptible.  These worms travel under the skin.  If your dog is diagnosed with them.  Keep  all feces picked up as soon as he has had a movement to reduce exposure as much as possible.

Giardia is not a worm.  It is a single-celled parasite called protozoa that invades the intestinal tract.  In healthy adult dogs it will likely cause no outward symptoms.  However, in puppies and debilitated dogs it will cause diarrhea.

Giardia is often transmitted through stagnant or standing water.  Also, in areas of grass where infected dogs have defecated.  Metronidazole is usually used to treat infections. A course of treatment is generally given for 5-7 days.


Like Giardia, Coccidia is also not a worm but a single-celled protozoan parasite which lives in the intestine lining.  It causes diarrhea and is often, therefore, confused with worms.

Poor sanitation can be a contributing factor.  It is not uncommon to find infections in puppies that come from very good breeders and generally healthy conditions.

About The Author

This article was written by Laura Anderson, a veterinary technician with more than 15 years experience in the veterinary field. The views and statements expressed in this article, and all other articles found on Puppy’s Place, do not under any circumstance, constitute veterinary advice.

Always seek professional veterinary care for your pet.

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