how to deworm a puppy

How to Deworm a Puppy

If you have noticed that your puppy has diarrhea, low energy, vomits, and does not seem to grow bigger, chances are it has worms. Worms can cause severe medical complications to your pet, among them anemia. Therefore, you need to take immediate action the moment you suspect your puppy has a worm infestation.

Many worm species can infest your puppy. Each species is a parasite that will cause harm to your puppy. As parasites, they will leach nutrients from your puppy to survive. Puppies tend to suffer from parasitic infestations, thus it is necessary to know how to deworm them.

The more these worms are left to breed and multiply inside your puppy, the worse the health complications may result. Additionally, your puppy will become a carrier that spreads worms to other pets through their feces. At the same time, a puppy with a worm infestation poses a zoonotic risk to its owners.

Early Detection and Deworming

puppy with early detected worm

It is crucial to take action early to protect your puppy against roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm, and whipworm infestations. A good solution is to treat the puppy with a broad-spectrum dewormer. This prevents the puppy from suffering while keeping other pets and family members safe.

It is worth noting that worm infestations are not a puppy-only problem. Dogs of all ages need deworming as cases of hookworm and roundworm are frequent among mature dogs.

With excellent care and attention, your puppy may never suffer a worm infestation. But it would help if you nonetheless assumed that your puppy is at risk of an infestation and took appropriate preventative steps. Puppies are under threat of hookworm and roundworm infestation from their mothers in utero and while suckling. They are also likely to suffer an ascarid and hookworm infestation within the first year. Therefore, more action is necessary for the early stages of their development. 

Symptoms of a Worm Infestation

Different Types of Dewormers

While different ailments may make your puppy show similar symptoms, a worm infestation tends to present specific symptoms.

  • Coughing

A coughing puppy likely has a heartworm infestation, but a hookworm and roundworm infestation is also possible. The cough will be dry and persistent, different from the usual strong and irregular cough. Coughing is a sign that the heartworms are moving into the lungs, thus minimizing the amount of oxygen reaching the blood.

  • Vomiting

Vomiting is another key indicator of a worm infestation. All worms cause puppies to vomit, with a whipworm infestation producing a yellow-green vomit. Roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms will be visible in the vomit. Other types of worms will also be visible in the vomit.

  • Diarrhea

Your puppy may produce soft stool because of worms. If diarrhea persists, your puppy will become dehydrated. Diarrhea with blood in the stool is an indication of a hookworm infestation. Therefore, it is crucial to visit a vet immediately if your puppy starts having diarrhea, no matter the cause.

  • Lethargy

Since worms leach nutrients from your puppy, the puppy will be left weak and in low spirits. Hookworms can leach enough blood and nutrients from your puppy to kill it. You, therefore, need to take action if you’ve noticed your puppy is particularly lethargic before it’s too late.

  • Pot Belly

Roundworms tend to give your puppy a pot-bellied or bloated appearance. A puppy with such an appearance most likely got a worm infestation from the mother. This pot-bellied appearance should also concern you if you see it in adult dogs. That bloated look is due to intestinal blockage and thus needs addressing as soon as possible.

  • A Change in Appetite

A worm infestation can cause your puppy to either lose interest in food or to get hungrier suddenly. In any case, you will notice your puppy is losing weight.

  • Weight Loss

A tapeworm or whipworm infestation is usually responsible for your puppy’s rapid weight loss. Weight loss could, however, be a symptom of another condition. Either way, you need to immediately take your puppy to see a vet.

  • Itching and Skin Irritation

Any sign of skin irritation usually signifies a worm infestation. Your dog will scratch itself more than usual. The irritation could eventually develop into a rash.

  • Scooting

Scooting is when a dog rubs its bottom on the ground. This could mean a problem with your puppy’s anal glands. However, a worm infestation in that area could be so itchy that your puppy has to scoot. Apart from scooting, your puppy may attempt to bite and lick its bottom to soothe the itch.

  • A Dull Coat

A shiny, thick coat is usually a sign of a healthy dog. Should the coat grow dull and dry, it could be because of a worm infestation. You may also notice hair loss and rashes developing on its skin.

  • Visible Worms in Fur and Feces

Tapeworms may be visible as small moving bumps in the fur around your puppy’s anus. Roundworms look like pieces of rice in the dog’s stool. 

How Did Your Puppy Get a Worm Infestation?

How Often Should You Deworm a Dog?
Image by tookapic from Pixabay

While worms generally infest puppies through ingestion of the eggs, there are other ways through which they can infest your pet. Each worm has a unique life cycle and thus a distinct infestation style.

  • Heartworms infest a puppy when mosquito bites transmit infected larvae.
  • Whipworms infest when the puppy eats infested soil, water, or stool.
  • Tapeworms infest when the puppy eats a carrier such as a rabbit, mouse, flea, or fish.
  • Roundworms get into the puppy’s body when it eats infested vomit, stool, or soil. The same goes when the puppy eats an infested carrier like rodents, earthworms, birds, or roaches. Tapeworms could also get into the puppy’s body through the skin and paws. The puppy’s mother could also be a carrier that passes tapeworms during pregnancy or through its milk.
  • Hookworms infest your puppy when it eats infested soil and stool. These worms also penetrate the skin and pass from the mother during pregnancy or later through the milk. The skin and paws are extra entry points.

How to Deworm a Puppy

Adult Dogs & Deworming
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Deworming a puppy is usually done through administering a deworming medication, orally or through an injection. Certain dewormers work by dissolving the worms enough to become invisible in the stool. Tapeworm dewormers are a typical example. Treatment is also administered more than once to eliminate the worms and prevent future re-infestation. Dewormers will kill the adult worms, making multiple treatment sessions a vital part of the process.

Apart from using dewormers, you need also to minimize chances of a re-infestation through the environment. The first step is to immediately get rid of feces after the puppy has consumed the deworming medication. Then you need to clean the areas your puppy stays to kill any eggs left. Repeating the deworming exercise regularly will ensure no future re-infestation occurs. The recommended deworming schedule involves administering deworming medication at these stages in the puppy’s life:

  • Two weeks old, if it weighs minimum 500g
  • Four weeks old
  • Eight weeks old
  • 12 weeks old

Additionally, ensure you do not become a carrier for re-infestation. Wear gloves when performing the deworming and cleaning exercise. Keep a clean and hygienic dwelling to eliminate places for eggs to hide.


Heartworms get a special mention due to their devastating nature. By the time you notice symptoms of a heartworm infestation on your puppy, they will have caused significant damage. Heartworms invade the heart and blood vessels and then move to the lungs, liver, and kidneys. When your dog manifests shallow breathing and is constantly fatigued, its blood vessels and heart are already adversely affected.

Puppies lucky enough to have such an infestation detected early may survive if given the proper medication. Others may have to undergo therapy to manage the organ damage. In that case, your puppy will likely need lifelong treatment and care. The puppy will also need to go easy, as its organs cannot handle any strain for long.

Recovery from Treatment

Best Dog Dewormer Review

It would be best if you allowed ample time for your puppy to recover from the effects of a worm infestation. After the treatment, you need to enforce preventative measures consistently. Following the prescribed deworming schedule and using the right dewormers is essential in preventing future infestations.

A heartworm infestation means providing more care and attention for the rest of the puppy’s life. You need to consult the vet for a proper care plan for your pet.

You need to not only minimize the chances of a worm infestation but prevent any other parasite from reaching your puppy. Fleas and ticks, for example, are not only a nuisance – they are carriers for worms. Give your puppy enough food to minimize the chances of it eating rubbish when playing outside.


If left unchecked, a worm infestation will severely damage your puppy’s internal organs and may even lead to death. Therefore, you need to be observant and take action the moment you suspect an infestation. Stick to the prescribed deworming schedule and use the right dewormers.

To conclude, taking a proactive approach prevents a worm infestation. Keep your puppy clean and in a clean environment, and feed it well. Take it to regular vet check-ups and report any symptoms that seem odd. Learn how to deworm your puppy at home, and ask for the professional help from the vet when necessary.

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