Dog deworming is certainly something no one wants to think about, but if you suspect your precious pet has intestinal parasites, it is critically important that they get a deworming treatment quickly. Even better, getting a puppy or a new dog on a dewormer as part of a healthy prevention protocol will allow you and your dog to avoid the issue entirely. At Animal Farm Pet Hospital , we get lots of questions on this topic, and that’s why we’ve taken the most frequently asked questions about dog deworming and answered them for you here. 

Of course if you have additional questions or are ready to take action and you live near San Francisco, CA, we’d love to ensure your dog avoids the discomfort that comes with intestinal parasites, so please feel free to call us at (415) 333-0813. 

Why is it important to deworm my dog?

Many puppies come to us with parasites, so all puppies should have a very vigorous deworming protocol. Not only are these parasites detrimental to your puppy, but they are also zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to your children or your family members. 

Intestinal parasites, or worms in the GI tract, can cause serious systemic effects, maybe even more immediately on the GI tract itself, such as vomiting, diarrhea, et cetera.

Lastly, diseases are much easier to prevent than to treat, and worms are no exception. We would much rather try to prevent the worms from ever becoming an issue than have to deal with all the issues that they can cause. 

What are some of the parasites found in dogs, and how are they treated?

There are many different kinds of parasites found in dogs, and the way we go about treating each is a bit different.

Some of the most common parasites we find in dogs are:

  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Whipworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Giardia
  • Coccidia

In the case of roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms, we generally use one particular type of medication. We use a certain dewormer for tapeworms and, again, a different one for coccidia. Giardia is a parasite that we treat with a combination of a dewormer and an antibiotic. We must identify what the parasites are with a fecal test, and then we treat them accordingly. Your veterinarian will help you to determine the kind of parasite and the subsequent treatment. 

How do intestinal parasites impact the health and well-being of my dog?

Intestinal parasites are essentially thriving in your pet by stealing their nutrition. So your dog is likely to experience GI upset, most likely diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. Over time, this malabsorption of nutrition can lead to things like anemia or low red blood cells, as well as weight loss and more chronic GI issues. In severe cases, the dog might experience anemia, passing worms, and intestinal upset. Some dogs have even gotten blockages in their intestines from extreme parasite loads. 

What are some signs and symptoms of intestinal parasites in my dog?

Many parasites have learned how to be in your dog's system without you even knowing about it. But if the load is bad or if it's a puppy or an older dog, what you'll see are signs of loose stools or diarrhea, gastrointestinal upset, and sometimes vomiting. You might see them pass the worms in their stool or have a “pot-bellied” appearance if the parasite load is very high.

Would I be able to see the worms in my dog's stool?

You may be able to see the worms in your dog’s stool. If you do see them, they are likely adult tapeworms or roundworms. With tapeworms, for example, you may see what looks like little bits of rice versus the full worm itself, whereas with roundworms, you may see the whole worm. If you’re fairly certain you’ve seen either of these worms but want to be sure, call us immediately at (415) 333-0813 to prevent your dog’s further discomfort.

How will a veterinarian diagnose intestinal parasites in my dog?

With puppies, we generally like to check their stool a couple of times, and that's because they can pass the adult worms but not pass the egg. What we do is take a fecal sample at the clinic or we have you bring one in (about the size of a walnut), and we send it off to a lab, or some veterinarians do it in-house. In the latter case, it's a pretty straightforward, inexpensive diagnostic known as a fecal float or intestinal parasite exam where we take the stool sample and put it in a certain solution, and allow the eggs to float to the top. We put that on a slide and look at it under the microscope.  Then we're going to determine what type of parasite is in the stool and treat accordingly. 

Why is early detection and diagnosis of intestinal parasites in dogs so important?

Parasites feed off your dog's body, which can cause severe health issues. Additionally, parasites can be transmitted to humans, so we want those to be removed as soon as possible. We also want to avoid the more systemic effects, let alone your dog being uncomfortable with diarrhea and vomiting. They can become dehydrated, and anemia is a dangerous side effect that may even require a blood transfusion to correct. So, catching worms early and deworming your dog is extremely important for everyone’s well-being.

What is the difference between natural remedies or over-the-counter dewormers compared to prescription medications?

Unfortunately, there are not any natural remedies that work effectively. Some over-the-counter medicines cause severe diarrhea and cramping. One in particular, which is still sold over-the-counter in pet stores, is known to cause severe cramping and severe diarrhea but does not necessarily kill the parasites. Parasites can also build resistance to the less effective chemicals found in over-the-counter options, so getting the right medication and dose from your veterinarian is the way to go. What you receive from your veterinarian is the appropriate dose, a very safe medication, and something that's completely effective. 

How do I choose the right dewormer for my dog?

The right dewormer for your dog depends on their life stage. If a puppy, we're going to do some basic deworming, but we're also going to do a fecal sample. And if they have additional parasites, we're going to add other medications. 

If you have further questions about getting your dog dewormed, reach out to your veterinarian. If you live in or near San Francisco, CA, we’d love to help you with this, so please don’t hesitate to call us at (415) 333-0813.