Worms. I think we can all agree they’re icky. 

But here’s a surprise: As a new puppy owner, it will be something you need to think about. 

Although dogs, as we know them, have come about after thousands of years of domestication, they still enjoy scavenging on anything they can get their paws on. This means that coming across parasites such as worms can be something we have to face every now and then.

After this article, you’ll know far more than you ever wanted to know about dog worms.

How often should I worm a puppy?

Before you pick them up from your breeder or rescue centre,  your puppy should be wormed by them every week from two/three weeks  until they are twelve weeks old.

Once you have your puppy at home,  you will most likely be given a wormer by your Veterinarian. After worming them weekly until twelve weeks, you should worm every month until they are 6 months old, and then after that every 3 -6 months.

Sounds like a lot of worming, but it will definitely be worm it. Whoops, worth* it. 

Puppy’s AgeHow often should they be wormed?
3-12 weeksWeekly
12 weeks – 6 monthsMonthly
Over 6 months Every 3- 6 Months
How often should you worm a puppy?

And how often should I worm my adult dog?

As a general rule, Vets recommended that you worm adult dogs every 3-6 months.

How often exactly will depend on a couple of things: 

  • Your dog’s age
  • Where your dog lives (outside vs inside)
  • Geographical location (country vs urban)
  • And what type of wormer you use

Be aware: You can worm your dog too often

Yes, you can worm your dog too often! And it has no obvious benefit. In fact, over-worming your dog can actually backfire, and make your dog build up a tolerance – you most certainly don’t want that. 

How can I tell if my puppy has worms?

On your own, it’s not so easy to tell if your puppy has worms for sure. But your veterinarian will definitely know by looking at your dog’s poo under a microscope. 

Roundworms usually don’t cause illness, but sometimes they can make dogs very ill. Tapeworms, Hookworms and Whipworms, however, unless present in large numbers, are less of a health threat.

Symptoms that your puppy or dog might have worms

Ah yes, these will be good to know.

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Lethargy
  • Dull coat
  • Dehydration
  • Cough (normally only seen in roundworm and hookworm infections)
  • Blocked intestine (only in severe cases or infestations)
  • Pneumonia (only seen in serious cases of roundworm)
  • Lack of growth or weight in a puppy
How often should you worm a puppy?
If they’re looking at you like this, they might have worms. Or might just simply want a treat. Better look out for more symptoms.

Where can I get worming tablets for a puppy? 

The best kind of wormers are ones that live on your vet’s shelf.  These are usually ones that target several types of worms instead of just one. Gotta get them all, right?

You can usually buy them from your vet without a consultation fee (yay!) as long as they see your dog at least annually to make sure they’re healthy. Otherwise, you can also buy them from most online pet pharmacies.

What types of wormers can I get for my puppy?

Wormers come in all shapes and sizes:

The Big Challenge: How do I give my puppy a wormer?

You could easily give your puppy anything by hiding it in food, so you’ll find wormers to be the perfect candidates. 

PRO TIP: You can easily turn it into a game – have your puppy find or catch the tablet inside their food.  

Toss an ‘empty’ treat at your puppy – encouraging them to catch it. Maybe they’ll catch it, maybe they won’t, but if they eat it, in the end, that’s all that counts! Then toss a treat with a wormer in, and toss an empty one again, until your puppy ate all its dog wormer.

Treats that are particularly great for hiding worming tablets. Split the tablet into halves or quarters so make it very small, and put it inside:

  • Slices of ham
  • Cooked chicken made into a ball around the piece of worming tablet
  • Cheese cubes (cut a hole in the centre and insert the tablet inside) ·   A blob of peanut butter (xylitol free of course!) with the tablet piece inside

How does my puppy get worms?

Well, in  more ways than you can imagine, that’s for sure:

  • Fleas! Tapeworms are usually transmitted by your dog ingesting infected fleas – this usually happens the most when they’re grooming themselves or other dogs. Preventing worms then, is easy by preventing fleas! 
  • From their mother – When they’re in the womb,  or by drinking her milk as puppies. This is the most common way your puppy will get roundworms or hookworms, which is why it’s important for them to be routinely wormed before they leave their mother.
  • Eating contaminated soil – Roundworms, hookworms and whipworms are commonly transmitted to your puppy when they eat another dog’s poo. Others’ poo may contain eggs or larvae which can go on to infect whoever eats them.  Can’t really tell you what the hype of eating a dog’s poo is exactly, but it is what it is in a dog’s world. 
    Even if poo has disintegrated, the eggs can live in the soil for years!
  • Walking on contaminated soil – hookworms are able to penetrate any part of the dog’s skin which touches the infected soil such as their paws or tummy!
  • Eating other infected animals or abandoned food – Other animals, especially those such as rodents are particularly well-liked among worms – which can, in turn, end up infecting our own dogs. You’ll need to look out that your puppy doesn’t make a snack out of mice, rats or birds – especially eating sheep carcasses as they can be host to a serious form of tapeworm (Echinococcus). Make sure to keep your guard up when walking in the countryside!
  • Raw dog food – This one is a relatively rare source for worms as raw dog food should be human grade and parasite free, but it can be an issue sometimes. Freezing it beforehand usually kills off any parasites and clears any risks, but here’s a good article about parasites in raw dog food if you really want to get into it.
How often should you worm a puppy?
Fun. But potentially wormy.

FAQ about Dog / Puppy Worms (if you even want to know more…)

Can you worm your dog too often?

Yes! And it has no obvious benefit. In fact, over-worming your dog can actually backfire, and make your dog build up a tolerance – most certainly don’t want that. 

What happens if worms go untreated in dogs?

It’s not a good idea to have any worms left untreated. They can cause serious health complications in puppies and dogs – so don’t skip the wormer!

How often should I worm a puppy?

Before you pick them up from your breeder or rescue center, your puppy should be wormed by them every week from two/three weeks until they are twelve weeks old.
 
Once you have your puppy at home,  you will most likely be given a wormer by your Veterinarian. After worming them weekly until twelve weeks, you should worm every month until they are 6 months old, and then after that every 3 -6 months.
 
Sounds like a lot of worming, but it will definitely be worm it. Whoops, worth* it.

How can I prevent my puppy from getting worms?

You can help prevent your puppy from getting worms by:

·   Discouraging them from eating other dog’s poo – it truly is weird how much they like to eat it. To keep them away, distract them with treats, and reward them. After all, no matter how much they may argue, treats will always taste better than poo. 
·   Cleaning up your puppy’s poo properly so the eggs don’t end up in your grass or soil. Also, so that your puppy doesn’t eat his own poo. Again, it’s a mystery why they do that.
·   Walk them in areas that are clean and safe
·   Worm your puppy regularly
·   Wash your hands regularly – especially after handling raw meat, touching other animals and picking up poo (their poo, not your poo – that would be strange). 
·   If your puppy or dog lives in a kennel outside, check their paw pads for any signs of irritation as hookworms cause itchy paws in kenneled dogs.

When is the best time to deworm a puppy or a dog?

Worms can sometimes cause upset stomachs, so we recommend worming your puppy around their normal mealtime after they ate. If your puppy is sick after worming, speak to your vet about it, as they will probably need to be given another dose later on (once their tummy has settled).

Are dog worms dangerous for humans?

Yes. Some worms can be dangerous for humans, particularly children.
 
The common roundworm Toxocara canis can cause Toxocariasis in humans – an infection transmitted by dogs and cats infected by roundworms. Dealing with it is relatively easy to deal with in adults, but can have serious consequences to children;  including risk of seizure or blindness. Doesn’t sound too great. 
So if you have children around your dog, it’s even more important to worm them regularly so as not to risk your children’s health.
 
Steps you can take  to protect your children against worms:
·   Worm your dog regularly
·   Clean up any poo from the garden or outside properly and promptly
·   Wash your puppy’s bedding regularly
·   Wash your hands thoroughly after picking up your dog’s poo and before preparing food
·   Teach your children to wash their hands regularly
·   Don’t allow your puppy in your child’s sand pit, if they have one. Lucky them if they have one too.
·   Discourage your puppy or dog from licking your child – especially on the face! We know it looks cute on Tiktok videos but better stay away.
 
For more information on keeping your children safe from germs, visit this article

Can’t get enough of worms? The Kennel Club can provide you with some more good information and advice about worms and puppies.