Getting a puppy is such an exciting time, but there’s a lot to think about when welcoming a new furry friend into your home. Hopefully you will have registered with a veterinary practice, and at your first consultation, the topic of parasite treatment will have been covered. Dogs are very likely to be affected without proper preventative treatment, so it’s important to get it sorted as soon as possible.
Table of contents
- Why does my puppy need worm prevention?
- What types of worms can my puppy catch?
- How often do I need to worm my puppy?
- Where can I get worming tablets from?
- What about home remedies?
- Is there anything else I can do?
- In conclusion
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Why does my puppy need worm prevention?
It’s very easy for dogs to pick up worms from the environment. They might eat the faeces of an infected animal or even eat an infected animal (e.g. rats and mice). Some worms can be passed from mother to pup, across the placenta and in milk and others can be transmitted by fleas (make sure you treat your dog for these too!)
In adult dogs, disease associated with worms is more commonly limited to diarrhoea and weight loss. Puppies however, can be much more severely affected. Clinical signs in puppies include:
- Weight loss but good appetite
- Pot-belly (distended abdomen)
- Lethargy and weakness
- Pale gums
- Loss of appetite
If left untreated, puppies can become seriously ill from worm infestation. If you are at all concerned, please see your vet. Puppies that are affected by worms will require a parasite treatment, recommended by your vet, and possibly further care, such as fluids and nutritional support.
What types of worms can my puppy catch?
The most common worms that affect dogs in the UK include:
- A long white worm found in the intestine. Microscopic eggs are passed in the faeces and can be passed to puppies via their mother’s milk or even across the placenta while still in the womb. Puppies are more likely to be affected than adult dogs. Larvae will migrate to the lungs where they are coughed up and swallowed back into the intestine, to lay eggs and continue the lifecycle.
- These are flat and segmented. They require an ‘intermediate host’ to continue their lifecycle, normally fleas which are ingested when the dog bites at their skin.
On rare occasions, puppies can also be affected by hookworms and whipworms, but these are not very common in the UK.
Lungworm can also be very dangerous, which can be caught by eating slugs and snails. Speak to your vet for further information on lungworm prevention.
How often do I need to worm my puppy?
Ideally, the breeder should have been regularly worming your puppy from 2 weeks of age. They should be wormed again at 5, 8 and 12 weeks. They should then be wormed every month until 6 months of age. After this, they can be wormed once every 3 months in most situations, unless your vet advises differently.
Where can I get worming tablets from?
From your vet
You can get ‘Prescription Only Medication’ (POM-V) wormers from the practice your puppy is registered with. This is the most effective worming treatment you can get and is most likely to be recommended by your vet.
Your vet will need to have examined your puppy prior to prescribing these, and will need to do so at least once every year to repeat this prescription. They will also need to know your puppy’s weight so that the correct dose can be dispensed. These medications can be bought directly from your vet, or if you request a written prescription from your vet they can be bought from online pharmacies. Remember you will need to pay to have your vet write a prescription if you choose to go down this route.
Which products are offered will vary from practice to practice.
From your vet, pharmacist, or an authorised retailer
Related groups of drugs (VPS products, for “Vet, Pharmacist or Suitably Qualified Person”) are only available from authorised suppliers. They are often less powerful than POM-V drugs, but have had to prove their effectiveness.
Common products you may be offered or see advertised include (but not limited to) Drontal, Cazitel, and Pancur.
Some worming tablets are available ‘over-the-counter’ – i.e. these can be bought without a vet prescription or a consultation with an SQP or Pharmacist, and will contain less potent ingredients. These aren’t usually as effective as POM-V or VPS medications and can be toxic if the dose is wrong. As with POM-V medication, a weight for your puppy is needed so that the correct dose can be administered
What about home remedies?
It is not recommended to use home remedies for worming and they are unlikely to work when used as a sole treatment.
Is there anything else I can do?
As mentioned, worms are commonly transmitted via faeces, so it is important to clear up after your dog even if they are regularly treated for worms. Disinfect their food and water bowls regularly. Remember to treat your puppy regularly for fleas too.
Worming treatment is extremely important for your new puppy. It is up to you how you choose to do this, but remember that prescription-only medication from your vet is recommended. If you have any concerns or further questions regarding parasite care, please speak to your vet.