How often do you worm a puppy? Your guide to puppy worming
Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Dr Tamir Spiegel
12th Jan 2024
8 mins read
Most puppies should start a worming treatment around 3 weeks old, and repeat it every 2-3 weeks until they’re 16 weeks old. There are different types of treatments, including chewable tablets, liquids and spot treatments. They each have different pros and cons. Your vet can help you pick the right treatment and routine for your pup.
Worming your puppy is an important part of being a responsible pet parent. Worms can cause all sorts of problems for your pup (and you)! So treating them early and often will help keep your pup healthy and safe.
In this guide, we explain what a typical worming schedule for a puppy looks like and the different types of treatment available. We’ll also explore the signs to look out for if your pup has worms.
Why is worming important?
Worming is important to protect your pup’s health, and your human family’s health.
Puppies don’t have a strong immune system, as they’re still growing. Which makes them vulnerable to parasites, including intestinal worms.
Certain types of worms, like roundworms and some tapeworms, can be passed from puppies and dogs to humans, putting everyone at risk of getting sick. So worming your pup is important to keep the people you live with safe too.
Worms can cause tummy problems, weight loss, and generally make your pup feel pretty poorly. These parasites could even be in your puppy even before they're born, as worm eggs can pass from mother to pup. So worming a young puppy is important to kill off any worms already there. Worming regularly helps to prevent future problems, as it kills off any leftover worms and eggs before they can develop.
When to worm a puppy
Puppies should start their first worming treatment around 3 weeks old. If you got your pup from a breeder, they should have already started a worming treatment. This is because young puppies might already be playing host to worms if their mum had them when they were born.
How often do you worm a puppy?
You should worm a puppy every 2-3 weeks when they’re between the ages of 3 weeks old and 16 weeks old.
But there are different types of worming treatment, so how often you use it might change. So always check the worming treatment instructions, and check in with your vet for extra advice. They’ll help you find a worming treatment that’s best for your puppy’s age and weight.
How often do you worm a dog?
Once your pup reaches adulthood, you can worm them less often. Vets generally recommend that you worm a dog as often as every 1-3 months.
If your dog is more active or has specific health concerns, you might need to worm them more often than this. Chat with your vet about the best worming schedule for your dog. They’ll take into consideration your dog's specific needs, overall health, and living environment, which all play a role in finding the right worming schedule.
How to worm a puppy
Always use a worming treatment prescribed by a vet. If you think your pup may have worms, talk to your vet for a diagnosis and advice on the best treatment for your pup. They can also help your pup avoid and possible side effects from a recommended treatment.
How you worm a [puppy will depend on the kind of treatment you use. These could be chewable tablets, liquids, or spot-on treatments.
How to worm a puppy using chewable tablets
Using chewable tablets is a quick and easy way to worm your pup. You simply pop it out the packet, offer it like a treat, and let your pup eat it. You can measure the dose pretty easily too, as the tablets are already measured. But as your pup grows, you will need to check what dose they need and it might involve breaking a tablet in half.
Tablets are pretty easy to give your pup because they’re usually flavoured to make them more appealing. Some can be crushed up or hidden in food so they’re even easier to eat, or less noticeable to your pup. The challenge with tablets is some pups might spit them out. If they do, it can make the treatment less effective because they aren’t getting the full dose. There might also be a slight risk of choking if your puppy doesn't chew the tablet properly. But your vet will have plenty of tips on how to make your pup take their tablets safely and effectively.
How to worm a puppy using liquids
With liquids, you’ll need to measure out the dose and feed it to your pup. Liquids can be easier to adjust to get the right dose for your puppy's size and weight as they grow. But the challenge with liquid dewormers is if they don’t taste nice, your pup might not want to take them. Measuring the right dose can also be pretty fiddly.
How to worm a puppy using spot treatments
Spot-on treatments are external medicines that you put on your puppy's coat. They’re usually pre-measured doses, so it’s not too fiddly to do. Other than holding your puppy still! Because it doesn’t need to be swallowed, like a tablet or liquid, this might be a good option if your pup is picky about their food, or a master of finding the tablet.
After you apply a spot treatment, it’s important to keep your puppy still to make sure it dries into their skin without the treatment touching any other pets or people. This can be tricky with a wiggly puppy!
It’s uncommon, but some puppies might have sensitive or irritated skin where the treatment is applied. So make sure you check your pup's skin for the first few hours after using a spot-on treatment.
Some spot treatments are effective against both internal and external parasites, so they can be a two-in-one treatment. Not all spot-on treatments cover all types of internal parasites, so you’ll need to check with your vet what your pup will be protected against.
Choosing the right worming treatment
To pick the best worming treatment for your puppy, think about these factors:
- Puppy's age and size.Different meds are made for puppies of different ages and sizes. Follow your vet’s advice to get the right product for your pup.
- The parasite you’re battling or preventing.The type of worms or parasites your puppy is at risk of will dictate your choice of treatment. Some treatments are more effective against specific parasites.
- Ease of use.Think about your puppy's temperament, and how likely they are to take a certain medicine. You may have to try a few different meds and ways of giving them to your pup before finding what works well.
- Ask a vet for help.Your vet is the best person to help you pick the right worming treatment. They’ll be able to give you specific advice based on you and your pup.
- Complete protection.Some products offer protection against multiple different parasites. So you might want to choose one of these if you want to make preventative care easier.
What are the signs of worms in puppies?
If your puppy has worms, you might notice some of these symptoms and behaviours:
- Vomiting.If your puppy vomits, especially if you notice visible worms in their vomit, it's a strong indicator of a worm infestation.
- Diarrhoea.Persistent diarrhoea, which might have blood or mucus, might be a sign of intestinal parasites. But,puppy diarrhoeacan also be caused by other factors, so it's important to get your vet to check if it doesn’t go away after 24 hours.
- Weight loss.Unexplained weight loss can be a sign of worms, and that your pup isn’t getting nutrients from their food.
- Swollen belly.A bloated or distended belly in a puppy can sometimes mean there are worms in their digestive system.
- A tired or inactive pup.Puppies infected with worms can be dull and tired, with less energy and less playfulness.
- Visible worms.In some cases, you may see worms in their poop, around their anus, or in their vomit. This is a clear sign that they need deworming.
- Visible eggs.You might see tiny white specks resembling grains of rice around your puppy's rear end or in their poop. These could be worm eggs.
- Poor coat.Worm infestations can lead to a dull, scruffy coat in puppies. Because the worms are absorbing the nutrients from your puppy’s food.
- Itchy bum.Your pup may scoot or excessively lick their rear end, showing discomfort which could be due to worms.
Keep in mind that not all puppies will show obvious signs of worms. Especially if they’re only carrying eggs. That’s why regular and proactive worming is an important part of caring for your puppy, even if they don’t show any symptoms. Worming treatment will kill any eggs they pick up before they have a chance to hatch and grow into worms.
What to do if your puppy has worms
If you think your puppy might have worms, chat with your vet as soon as possible. They can give you a specific diagnosis and a targeted treatment plan to go with it.
Some worms can be transmitted from puppies to humans. So if you think your puppy may have worms, it’s worth going to your GP to get advice on treatment for you and your family too.