Intestinal parasitism is a major health problem among dogs especially those who spend some time outdoors or those who get in contact with objects that are contaminated with these parasites. Allowing these intestinal worms to grow can adversely affect the health of your pooch, leading to malnutrition and a host of other problems. This is why it is crucial that we get rid of these intestinal worms through the use of dewormers. Unfortunately, the market is littered with products that do not really kill these pests or that they are effective in doing so yet come with a host of serious side effects. What you need is the best dog dewormer that is proven to be both effective and safe for your pooch. Here are 7 of the best in the market today.
Best Dewormer for Dogs Buying Guide and FAQ
The market is literally flooded with a lot of dog dewormers that promise instant results within a few days. Some actually work but with considerable side effects. While there are products that are labeled as Over-the-Counter dewormers, we strongly advise you against buying these without first checking with your veterinarian since different dogs will react differently to the same ingredient. Safety is a very important consideration whenever buying ‘medications’ for your pooch as you don’t want to add insult to your dog’s predicament.
What are the Symptoms of Worms in Dogs?
There are 4 very common intestinal worms that infest the gut of dogs as well as other pets. These include tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms, with the first 2 types of intestinal parasites being large enough to be readily seen in the stool of dogs. Unless you bring your pooch to the veterinarian for a routine clinical evaluation with stool examination, it is often quite difficult to tell if your pooch has worms, especially in the early stages of the infestation.
The main issue with intestinal parasites is that they compete with normal cells in the absorption of nutrients found in the food of your dog. Instead of these nutrients being absorbed and delivered to the cells of the dog’s body, these nutrients are consumed by the parasites themselves. This is the reason why they are called parasites in the first place since they feed off their hosts.
The symptoms of intestinal parasitism in dogs are closely attributed to two fundamental problems: malnutrition and worm volume growth. These can be manifested as follows.
- Your dog has increased appetite yet it is not gaining weight or it is always hungry but it is losing weight because the nutrients in its food are being taken up by the worms.
- Weakness or low energy because of the substantial reduction in nutrient absorption.
- Dull coat or even hair loss secondary to inadequate nutrients.
- Intense itching or skin irritation because of migration of worm larvae.
- Scratching of your dog’s behind or rubbing it against a furniture or even on the ground in an effort to physically ‘remove’ worms that may have already migrated to the anus.
- Pot-bellied appearance or bloating because of the growing mass of worms as well as the gas that each worm gives off.
- Vomiting and diarrhea in an effort to get rid of the bolus of worms from the intestines. In many cases blood can accompany the diarrhea as well as visible worms. Worms can be visible in the vomitus, too.
- Visible worms or even eggs in the dog’s stool or vomitus. This just confirms your suspicion that your pooch has worms.
How Do Dogs Get Worms?
There is no single mechanism upon which dogs can get intestinal worms. However, given the fact that these parasites are mostly confined to the gastrointestinal tract, then their mode of transmission will definitely involve passage through the dog’s mouth and the rest of its digestive tract. Here’s a look at how dogs get these common worms.
There are two methods upon which dogs can get hookworms. The first is through direct ingestion of the eggs that are typically found in the stool of an infected dog. The second is more spectacular in the sense that it underscores the uniqueness of these intestinal parasites. When eggs are passed in the stool, they hatch larvae within 5 days. If they are not ingested by another dog, these larvae crawl on the surrounding soil. If a dog walks on this soil, the larvae can penetrate the dog’s skin in between its paw pads. Once it is through the dermis, it enters the bloodstream, reaches the lungs, crawls up the trachea, and then swallowed towards the colon. Technically, regardless of the route, they will always end up in the colon, although the second mode of transmission can produce other symptoms as the hookworm larvae are migrating.
These intestinal parasites are very cunning, to say the least. Dogs get infected when they ingest anything that has been contaminated with dog feces containing roundworm eggs. The eggs hatch in the dog’s gut, releasing larvae which penetrate the wall of the intestines. From there, the larvae invade the bloodstream and reach the alveoli of the lungs where the little critter crawls up the airway only to be coughed up and swallowed back to the gut. If the dog is pregnant at the time of larval migration, larvae can travel to the placenta and infect unborn puppies. If the dog is nursing, the larvae can also be found in their milk. Dogs can also get roundworms by ingesting intermediate hosts that feed on encysted eggs.
Tapeworms have a very unique way of getting transmitted to dogs: they need an intermediate host. The mode of transmission is generally the same as in any other worm. It starts with the passing of embryonated eggs in the feces which can be ingested by intermediate hosts such as sheep, pig, cattle, and many more. In the intestines of these intermediate hosts the eggs hatch, releasing larvae and penetrating the liver, lungs, and other organs. When these organ meats are given to dogs without proper preparation and cooking, the larvae are transmitted to dogs and mature into adults, ready to start the cycle anew.
The adult whipworm lays eggs inside the large intestines of an infected dog. When these eggs are pushed towards the anus and are evacuated together with the stool of the dog, they get embryonated in the environment within 2 to 4 weeks. During this period, an infective larva is already developing. If a dog licks the soil that has been contaminated with dog feces containing the whipworm eggs, the eggs are passed down to the new dog’s colon where the larvae are released into the intestinal epithelium. From there it grows to become an adult whipworm.
How Can I Deworm My Dog?
While there are plenty of dog dewormers that claim they don’t need a prescription for its use, you should know better. While these products may have been proven safe and effective, you can still not be pretty sure when it comes to your dog. That is why it is very important that you bring your pet to your veterinarian first so he can make a very thorough evaluation on what dog dewormer will be most appropriate for your pooch.
When it comes to deworming schedules, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention together with the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists have forwarded the following guidelines.
- All puppies should be dewormed at the age of 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks then followed by another dose by the age of 12 and 16 weeks. Puppies should be dewormed again at age 6 months and at age 12 months.
- All adult dogs should be dewormed twice a year for the rest of its life.
- All new dogs of the household regardless of age and history should be dewormed immediately upon arrival in the house. This should be repeated after 2 weeks before observing the usual deworming schedule for adult dogs.
There are also a few things you have to keep in mind when deworming your dog.
- Majority of OTC preparations are not effective against tapeworms. As such, it is imperative to check with your vet on the best possible anti-tapeworm medication.
- Roundworms are also very difficult to eradicate completely because many become dormant for many years. Also, there are those that reactivate only when the dog is near-term or during lactation.
Dogs explore most of their world through their mouths. Unfortunately, this also exposes them to the risks of ingesting eggs that can turn into intestinal worms. While these dog dewormers have been proven safe and effective, knowing how to properly deworm your dog by adhering to a strict deworming schedule is crucial.