5 Tips on Whether You Need to Deworm a Dog

October 15, 2019
Read this article for answers to all your questions on how and when to deworm a dog.

Deworming is an extremely important thing to do when you have a pet. You need to deworm a dog because it can prevent serious health problems. That goes just as much for the dog itself as for the humans it lives with.

There are lots of different parasites that could infect a dog. These tend to come from insects like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. This is why we’ve begun to use repellents to keep these things away from our pets.

You can find all kinds of products to help deworm a dog nowadays, and that may seem overwhelming at first. The main thing you need to understand with each product is how long it lasts and when you can use it. 

Keep reading for our tips on how to know when you need to deworm a dog.

How to know if you need to deworm a dog

1. Monthly re-applications

As pet owners, you need to maintain a long-term handle on this problem. Always make a note of the date you used a deworming product on your dog, and the date it will expire. If you’re trying to prevent external parasites, you can use a topical treatment on its skin once a month. Anti-parasite collars can last months depending on the brand.

2. Should you use topical treatments or a collar?

Topical treatments are great for fighting parasites. They have an oily consistency, and you apply them directly to your dog’s skin. They take a few hours to fully absorb, and generally last about a month.

An owner applying a topical treatment to a dog's skin.

Anti-parasite collars slowly release small amounts of a chemical substance over a certain period of time. That could be anywhere from a few months to almost an entire year. You need to make sure you leave about two fingers of space between a dog’s neck and collar for the collar to be effective.

Topical treatments and collars have different uses, too. Some brands will cover fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and sand flies, which transmit leishmania, but not all brands cover for that last type of bug. You should also keep in mind that the protection against each type of parasite may not all last the same amount of time, even with the same product.

3. Internal deworming

Those first two options are great for preventing bites from external parasites like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. However, there are also other types of parasites like tapeworm and other worms that can infect your dog.

In Spain, it’s actually a legal requirement to register an internal deworming every year in its European passport. There are also many other countries where this is a requirement if you want to travel with your dog.

The best option for you is to do it every three months with a pill that you can get from your vet. 

These pills don’t generally last a long time like the external anti-parasite options. In this case, they have a one-time function that cleans out your dog’s digestive system. But you can be sure that after you give yours this pill, it’ll be free of internal parasites.

4. Deworming a puppy

Once a puppy has reached six weeks, it loses the immunity it gets from its mother’s milk. This is when you need to start deworming it and getting it all the proper vaccinations.

The first deworming treatments are extremely important. This is because it’s not uncommon for a puppy to have worms in its digestive system already. Doing these treatments and vaccinations early can help you prevent serious illnesses like canine parvovirus. 

A dog sitting on a vet's table about to eat a pill.

But, before you vaccinate, your vet needs to make sure that your puppy is healthy and internally and externally parasite free. It needs to have a strong immune system when it gets the vaccine to avoid any issues.

5. Anti-parasite vaccines

On top of all the things we’ve already mentioned, there are also vaccines to prevent conditions like kennel cough and leishmania. These are vaccines your dog would need to get every year, to make sure it’s constantly protected. 

A leishmania vaccine is especially good if you live in a damp region close to a sea or river with lots of mosquitoes. 

Kennel cough is especially important to vaccinate against in the winter when there are lots of sick dogs around. It’s like a fever and is very contagious, so it’s also crucial for you to vaccinate your dog if it’s going to spend time in a kennel or a doggy daycare center where there are lots of dogs around.

Besides these vaccines, there are also injectable anti-parasitic treatments that can protect your dog from the mosquitoes that lead to roundworms.

Follow these tips and always keep track of the dates to make sure you’re keeping your dog as healthy as can be!