We love seeing our pups run around playfully without a care in the world. However, as a dog owner, you have to take care that your pooch remains healthy by ensuring she is free from worm infestations. While there are plenty of commercial medications available to kill and prevent worms, you can also try treating the worms at home without medication, but always do so under the direction of a veterinarian in order to ensure your treatment is effective and safe.
Always start with a vet
Even if you plan to treat your dog's worms naturally, you'll want to start with the vet. That's because you need to know what kind of worms your dog has (if any), and you'll need to know how bad the infestation is. As Animal Wised points out, in some cases, the worm infestation might be dangerous and require medical treatment or be a sign of an underlying condition that requires treatment. If you completely skip the vet visit, you could be putting your dog's health at risk.
A vet may do a blood and/or fecal test to see whether or not your pup has worms and if so, how bad the infestation is. That's particularly beneficial since many home remedies for worms in dogs aren't 100 percent effective, so you'll need to have a baseline to know whether or not your treatment is working. This way, you can come back after attempting to treat the worms at home and see if they have died off in significant numbers or not so you can either be satisfied that your treatment worked, continue the treatment a little longer, or take a different course of action altogether.
Signs of worms in dogs
It's worth noting that not all types of worms cause notable symptoms in dogs, which is why vets will often request a stool sample during checkups. When there are symptoms, they are often similar to those of other illnesses, according to VetInfo, which is why you should always take your dog to a vet before treating her worms. That being said, common signs of intestinal worms (the worms that dogs get most frequently that are also the easiest to kill through home remedies) include:
- An abdomen that is notably swollen all the time
- Blood in the stool
- Brittle, scratchy hair or hair loss
- Itching near the anus, particularly when the dog tries to drag her butt on the floor regularly
- Mucus on stool
- Showing symptoms of pain when the stomach area is touched
- Significant, unexplained weight loss
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Worms, eggs, larvae, or pieces of these things in the dog's stool (these usually look like small pieces of rice)
When to start deworming puppies
You shouldn't wait until there's something wrong with your puppy to take him to the vet to see if he needs a deworming. In fact, most puppies are born with roundworms or get them while nursing, according to WebMD, so they should be taken to the vet for the first time at only two to three weeks of age.
At this point, the vet will generally recommend a medicinal dewormer for puppies to stop the infestation before it really becomes a problem. Be sure to tell your vet if you plan to use a home remedy to treat the worms so she can suggest the most effective course of action or let you know if the puppies may require a more immediate treatment that can only be administered through pharmaceutical means.
How long to treat worms
Whereas most medicinal worm treatments only need to be for used a relatively short period of time, home treatments may not be as effective. Therefore, if you try a dog dewormer home remedy, you need to continue treatment until the infestation is fully gone, which will usually take at least 10 days. This is why it is so important to keep visiting your vet during the treatment period to make sure that the worms are dying off and to know when they are totally dead so you can discontinue your course of treatment. Additionally, your vet can suggest new or alternative methods of treatment if your pet shows any signs of reinfestation or discomfort due to the remedy.
One benefit of home treatments is that these alternative medicines can be particularly effective as prevention methods. While you wouldn't want to leave your dog on a deworming medication forever, if you like using holistic treatments, you may want to use them periodically to prevent the worms rather than waiting until your dog has an infestation.
Talk to your vet about a preventative routine, as some of these treatments are safer than others. Whatever recommended preventative course of action you and your vet agree on, you'll likely want to administer it once every three months (or once a week as a puppy until she reaches three months of age) and take her to the vet to be tested for worms just as often.
Home remedies for worms
Before listing some of the many worm-killing products you can use to deworm your dog at home, it's important to recognize that while some people feel uncomfortable using medicinal dewormers because of the chemicals they contain, natural treatments are not necessarily safer. In fact, many anti-parasitic home remedies kill worms because they are toxic and can actually harm your dog in large quantities. Always administer these treatments under vet care and do not exceed the recommended dosage.
Apple cider vinegar
The natural alkalinity of apple cider vinegar can help kill parasites in your dog's system. Give 1/4 to 1 teaspoon of vinegar to your dog daily in his food or water.
Areca palm kernel
Also called betel, the seeds of the areca palm are a strong anti-parasitic that can also help ease stomach problems such as vomiting and diarrhea. Give your dog 2 grams of the seeds three times a day.
Black walnut extract
Black walnut extract is very effective in killing intestinal worms because of the tannins it contains. Unfortunately, these can also be toxic to dogs in large dosages, causing problems like diarrhea, vomiting, and gastritis. As a result, black walnut should only be used for severe infestations and under the supervision of a veterinarian.
Chamomile glycerin tincture
You're probably most familiar with chamomile as a tea, but if you purchase it as a glycerin tincture from a health food store, it can help prevent and expel roundworms and whipworms. It is not as powerful or quick-working as many other herbs, but it does offer the benefits of being an anti-inflammatory agent as well as helping to calm an upset digestive system.
Administer 0.25 to 0.50 ml per 20 pounds of body weight twice a day by putting drops either right in your dog's mouth or in her drinking water.
Dried coconut treats
Coconut is a natural anti-parasitic that can help kill tapeworms. Once a day, sprinkle the coconut on your dog's food, giving a small dog 1 teaspoon, a medium dog 2 teaspoons, and a large dog 1 tablespoon.
Using diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth is the microscopic remains of phytoplankton and has razor-sharp edges that can slice right through the exoskeleton of insects and parasites, eventually causing dehydration and death. Because DE is nontoxic to dogs, it can even be given to puppies and pregnant dogs. Unfortunately, while it works well on many types of parasites, it is not effective on tapeworms, which is another reason it is so important to visit your vet and identify the kind of worms your dog is harboring.
Feed your dog 1 teaspoon of diatomaceous earth per 25 pounds of weight per day. Mix it in with his food because if it is accidentally inhaled, it may irritate his lungs. While it cannot kill tapeworms directly, you can use DE to prevent tapeworms by rubbing it sparingly into your dog's fur, which can help kill fleas and ticks that spread tapeworms and other parasites.
Using garlic to kill worms
Garlic is useful for treating hookworms, roundworms, and giardia, and it also helps boost the immune system, according to Rita Hogan, a canine herbalist. It's worth noting that while garlic is safe in small doses, it can be toxic to dogs in large quantities, so you need to be careful with the dosage. Additionally, most dogs do not like the taste, so you will likely need to crush it and mix it in with his meals.
You can give small dogs 1/2 a clove, medium dogs 1 clove, large dogs 1 1/2 cloves, and giant dogs 2 cloves per day, divided into two doses per day. Fab How warns against giving puppies under eight weeks garlic, as their bodies may not yet reproduce blood cells like adult dogs. Also avoid giving garlic to anemic dogs.
Gentian or St. Ladislaus
The gentian or St. Ladislaus herb can help strengthen a dog's digestion system, helping your pup fight off the infestation on her own. You can find the powdered root at health food stores. Boil water and add a tablespoon of the powder before allowing it to cook for five minutes. Let the mixture cool fully before giving it to your dog twice a day.
Olive leaf extract
Oleuropein is a compound found in the fruit and leaves of olive trees that can help flush out intestinal parasites. Olive leaf extract is sold with different strengths of oleuropein, and you'll need to purchase an extract with 12 percent or higher oleuropein. Twice a day, give your small dog 300 mg, medium dog 500 mg, and large or giant dog 1,000 mg.
Oregon grape concentrate
Like garlic, grapes are generally not good for dogs but can be used in small doses to help treat worms. Give no more than 12 drops for 20 pounds once a day.
Only use Oregon grape concentrate for this purpose. Do not give your dog whole grapes. They can be purchased from herbalists or health food stores. Do not give them to pregnant dogs or those with liver problems.
Pineapple slices or juice
The enzymes of pineapple help fight intestinal worms, but there are a lot of sugars in pineapple, so do not give your dog too much of this sweet treat or it could cause other health problems in your dog. A few pieces a day or a little juice added to your pup's meal should be enough.
Ground pumpkin seeds
Ground-up, fresh, unsalted pumpkin seeds can be a great way to fight intestinal worms. They are nontoxic, anti-parasitic, and full of healthy nutrients that will help your dog's hair. Pumpkin seeds are so safe that they can even be given to pregnant dogs. Administer 1/4 teaspoon per 10 pounds of your dog's weight per day and mix it with your dog's food.
Sweet wormwood or sagebrush
Like black walnut extract, this plant is very effective against all types of intestinal worms due to the high number of tannins, but it is potentially toxic to dogs. Do not use it without veterinarian supervision, but when you do, the dosage is generally between 10 and 15 drops of extract every eight hours.
Wheat germ oil
Wheat germ oil is another healthy, anti-parasitic food that can be given in conjunction with the pumpkin seeds to boost the effectiveness of both treatments. Do not use this alone, as it will not be effective enough. Give it in the same dosage as the pumpkin seeds.