As unpleasant as it may be, worms are a fact of life as far as puppies are concerned. Worms can be a part of a puppy’s life from the day they are born since they pass to them from their mother.
Thankfully, worms are treatable. But if there is a time when they could cause serious issues, it’s as a puppy, when our immune systems are low, and we need all the nutrients we can get. Nutrients that worms will steal from us. The entire worming process may seem a little overwhelming, especially if you’re not familiar with puppies, so I’ve put this together to hopefully help answer some questions you may have regarding your puppy’s worming schedule.
Why is Worming so Important?
Even though puppies may not show any immediate signs of having worms, there is a very high chance that newborns have them. Passed down from their mother either through their milk or through the placenta in-utero, puppies will likely have some intestinal worm. While roundworm is the most common in young pups, they can also get hookworm, tapeworm, and whipworm. Each one has its nasty little way of robbing your puppy of the vital nutrients it needs to grow and thrive. With proper treatment, serious health conditions are rare. But, if left untreated, the worms will continue to grow and multiply and quickly overwhelm a puppy’s small body to the point where they are impossible to fight off and lead to malnourishment. If the puppy doesn’t contract worms from their mother, they can still pick them up in other places like soil, feces, raw meat, and even other dogs that might be infected.
Can Humans Get Worms from Their Puppy?
If left untreated, a puppy can pass worms to its humans. While they can give them to any person, young children are usually more at risk because they are the ones who are wrestling around with the new puppy. Little ones are also less diligent with handwashing afterward. As I mentioned earlier, roundworm is the most common worm that a young pup might have. It is also the worm most likely to be passed to humans.
While picking up your puppy’s droppings is very important as it will contain the worm eggs, roundworms can also quickly multiply in the soil around the droppings. Just because you are diligent in picking it up doesn’t mean that the worms are necessarily gone from the area. If someone around you has worms and is not aware of it and may not have hashed their hands, they can be easily transferred to other people, creating an unpleasant cycle. Humans also have many of the same symptoms as dogs, like vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite, but they can also lead to eye, heart, and lung problems. Worms are treatable in people, as well, but that doesn’t mean you want to have such an unpleasant experience.
How do I Deworm my Puppy?
The worming process is started by a vet when the puppy is two weeks old. If you’re waiting until after your puppy weans to pick them up, chances are the process has probably already started. The puppy will then be administered medication five times by the time they are twelve weeks old, every two weeks until they are eight weeks old, and then again at twelve weeks old. Medicating is done by the vet with either a pill, on the skin, or with an injection. Once the initial worming process is complete, your puppy gets another dose of medication every three months for the rest of the puppy’s life. Usually, this is medication you take home and give your puppy yourself. This medication is an all in one that combats intestinal worms and heartworm. While it is possible to pick up worming medication in pet stores, we recommend you get it from the vet as they will have a better idea of dosage based on your puppy’s weight and breed.
Are There Side Effects to the Worming Process?
Many puppies never show any side effects and will carry on with the everyday joys of being a puppy. Some do have side effects, however, including loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Depending on the mediation, you may also see worms, both dead and alive, in your puppy’s droppings. Don’t be alarmed, as this is perfectly normal with those medications designed to paralyze the worm so that it detaches from the intestinal wall and can then be excreted. Other medications, however, are designed to dissolve the worm in the puppy’s system. You may not see any worms at all. Whichever the case may be, side effects from worming mediation are usually very mild and do not last long.
How Effective is Worming?
If you are diligent with giving the first five applications through your puppy’s twelve weeks of age, the worming process is very effective. But, this doesn’t mean that they won’t contract worms in the future. That is why it is very important to continue the every three-month application, especially when young as a puppy’s immune system is still developing and often weaker than an adult dog, making them more susceptible to picking up parasites. While it may seem easier and more convenient to buy an over-the-counter worm medication, we strongly recommend that the entire process is done under vet supervision to ensure they are getting the right doses to be effective.
I know, the thought of a puppy having worms clinging to their intestines is enough to make anyone’s skin crawl. But sticking to the recommended schedule of worming will mean that your puppy doesn’t have to suffer from such a disgusting parasite.