Worming, or deworming, is an essential part of puppy care to protect them from internal parasites.

Puppies can be born with or can acquire worms from their mother, so establishing a routine to protect them is important.

So, when and how should you worm your puppies? Once again, we asked our consultant vet Dr Nick Thompson for his advice on worming puppies.


Worming your puppy at home: a less scary approach

Worms! Ugh, even the word makes us wince. Be it for our canine companions or ourselves, the idea of parasitic worm infections can make anyone's skin crawl.

The pharmaceutical industry knows this too. After all, they've built a business around these creepy crawlies and fear has a way of influencing purchase decisions.

Let's look at holistic and herbal strategies to reduce the use of unwanted pharmaceutical drugs and promote health and optimal growth naturally.

Puppy worming schedule: worming for the young ones 

Here's some surprising news: administering pharmaceuticals to pregnant bitches in their last phase of pregnancy to prevent worm transmission to the pups is futile. It doesn't affect the likelihood of the transfer. If you're concerned, the optimal time to worm her is post-whelping.

how much dewormer to give a puppy

When should I worm my puppy?

Puppies can start worming treatment with pharmaceuticals or natural products around four weeks of age. The standard practice is to worm puppies every fortnight until they are 12 weeks old, followed by monthly drug-wormer treatments until they are six months old. 

Although natural methods, including worm count testing, can be applied for puppies, they're a tad more complex and should be carried out under the guidance of a holistic or herbal vet for the pups' safety. 

How often should I worm a puppy vs a dog?

If using herbal/holistic methods, start at 3-4 weeks with a worm count. Results come back quickly, and you can deploy herbal products according to the results. Repeat every 2-4 weeks until pups are 12 weeks, then drop testing to every 4-8 weeks until adulthood. 

Mature dogs: how often should you worm?

Surprisingly, most adult dogs don't have worms, and it's not necessarily due to the prevalent pharmaceutical overworming.

Instead, it's a marvel of Mother Nature. She has gifted our dogs and us the ability to develop immunity during our early years, enabling us to fight off worm infections as we age. Brilliant.

Using a Faecal Egg Count (FEC)

In my clinic, we let nature take the lead. I recommend my clients send a stool sample from their pet every 3-6 months to wormcount.com for analysis.

The results are reassuring. Over 95% of these tests come back negative. It's as simple as collecting stool samples over three consecutive days – you're picking it up anyway, might as well make the most out of it! A small piece, the size of a hazelnut each day, is all you need to send.

There might be instances when we worm count where we discover a less harmful type of worm like Fox Lungworm (Crenosoma). Owners are often surprised and not a little panicked! I reassure them that the fox lungworm can't do much harm to the domestic dog. At worst, they may cause a mild cough in some dogs. 

Crenosoma responds well to conventional wormers and even holistic and herbal alternatives if used aggressively. 

However, it is crucial to identify its more dangerous counterpart, the French cousin Angyostrongylus. Although rare, it's best to be aware of its presence, and a test will help you do just that.

If found, pharmaceutical treatment, as your vet suggests, is advisable.  

Natural worming products

The market is flooded with natural worming products. I have first-hand experience with Verm-X. It's an excellent but unlicensed herbal product, hence not classified technically as a 'wormer'.

However, with my two Whippet-Italian Greyhound bitches, Mouse and Bluebell, aged two and four, respectively, I can proudly say that they have never required a conventional wormer, only Verm-X.

Their worm counts have consistently returned negative, and their health is superb. They are, of course, raw-fed, too. 

Best dewormer for puppies

An added benefit of herbal products like Verm-X is their positive effect on the gut microbiome, a characteristic absent in pharmaceutical treatments.

Indeed, all pharmaceutical worming products negatively impact the gut biome. This is worrying in adults on 'health plans' where the drugs are provided monthly for life, but it terrifies me that we subject many pups to the same barrage even before they are one year old.  

Although the study of gut microbiota is in its infancy, one thing is clear: less interference with a healthy, well-fed gut ensures better performance, health and immunity. And likely fewer worm problems! 

However, caution is required when using the product-test combination, particularly for puppies, as worms might proliferate unnoticed. With puppies - if in doubt, test! 

A brief recap

When dealing with parasites, prevention undoubtedly trumps cure. We can leverage herbal alternatives and strategic testing to limit our dogs' exposure to potentially harmful drugs.  

In that case, it's a healthier choice for your puppy and everyone else. Remember, our goal is worm-free and worry-free healthy pups and dogs! 

Thank you to Nick for his brilliant advice, you can learn more about puppies, food and worming in this video:

Interested to learn more from Dr Nick?

Ask a Vet: What Age Can I Feed My Puppy Raw Food? 

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Ask a Vet: Is Wormwood Safe for Pets?

Ask a Vet: Best Raw Bones for Dogs

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August 09, 2023 — Verm-X