How Do Dewormers Work?

By Jen Davis

Intestinal worms are a relatively common problem that pet owners face. Symptoms of intestinal worms include diarrhea, visible worms in feces, bloody feces, a bloated abdomen, coughing, breathing problems, weight loss, vomiting and constipation. If you suspect that your pet has worms, you should visit your veterinarian for an official diagnosis and appropriate treatment with a dewormer.

Basics of Deworming

When you deworm your pet, you are providing him with medication that will kill the worms in his system, cause them to release their hold on the intestinal walls and help your pet excrete them. Ideally, the dewormer also will kill any eggs or worm larvae in your pet's system. Not all dewormers can do both in a single dose, so your pet may require multiple doses over the course of several days or weeks before your veterinarian can give him the all clear.

Types of Worms

It is crucial that you follow your veterinarian's recommendations when you are deworming your pets. Different chemicals are used to kill different types of worms. Your veterinarian will have to take a stool sample from your pet, determine the type of worms your dog is suffering from and prescribe a dewormer to eradicate the worms. Because there is no one product that kills all types of worms, your pet may have to be given more than one type of wormer. If your pet has underlying health issues, it may not be safe to give him some medications.

Worming Schedules

It is normal for young animals to be dewormed every couple of weeks during the earliest months of their lives. Typically young animals are given a dewormer at the same time they are given their initial vaccinations. As pets reach maturity, it generally is recommended that they be checked for worms twice a year by the veterinarian.

Preventing Worms

It is difficult to prevent your pet from getting worms, but you can take some measures to limit your pet's exposure. Keep your pet away from stray animals and areas where animal feces is left out and not cleaned up relatively quickly. You also can put your dog or cat on a heartworm preventative, some of which also will prevent other types of worm infestation. Talk to your veterinarian about which options will work best for your pet.