As your dog progresses through her pregnancy, there's a lot to think about when it comes to her care. You're taking her to vet checkups to monitor her progress, making sure she gets the nutrition she needs, and anxiously counting down the days to her due date. There's one more important item that should be on your care calendar: deworming. Deworming your dog plays an important role in not only her health but in the health of her puppies too.
When Should You Deworm a Pregnant Female Dog?
How worms affect dogs
Worms, a common name for intestinal parasites, can jeopardize a dog's health if they're not kept in check. According to Revival Animal Health, parasites live in a dog's large and small intestine. Different types of worms can cause serious health problems in dogs.
Roundworms, hookworms, Giardia, and Coccidia all live in a dog's small intestine. Coccidia and Giardia cause diarrhea, which can quickly dehydrate a dog or a puppy. If puppies contract roundworms, which look like spaghetti, they often vomit them up. Hookworms are hard to see without a microscope but also cause issues for dog and puppy health. These intestinal parasites can cause puppies to cough if they get into their lungs. Plus, both roundworms and hookworms can infect humans, so you definitely don't want them in your dog or puppies.
Your dog's large intestine can become a host for both tapeworms and whipworms. Because these worms are so far into the dog's digestive system, it can be difficult to kill them with dewormers. Tapeworms can cause a dog to lose weight and miss out on valuable nutrition, while whipworms can also lead to weight loss, anemia, and digestive upset.
Effective deworming programs can help to keep intestinal parasites under control, but prevention is also key to parasite management. Dogs can ingest worms when they eat feces from other dogs or dead animals or when they come into contact with other dogs who have parasites.
Why deworming pregnant dogs matters
It is particularly important to deworm pregnant dogs in order to prevent them from transferring intestinal parasites to their puppies. According to Revival Animal Health, as a mother dog becomes heavily pregnant and stressed late in her pregnancy, parasites become active. Because the mother dog has the lowest resistance to parasites at this time, she's at risk of developing a significant parasite load, and this can have implications for the puppies.
Puppies will be born with sterile guts, and mothers provide the puppies with good bacteria through their milk. This bacteria then helps the puppies' digestive systems. However, the same milk that provides the puppies with good bacteria can also transmit parasites, including roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, Coccidia, and Giardia. With proper deworming, you can control the parasites so they don't take root in the puppies and get out of control.
Deworming protocol for pregnant dogs
Deworming your pregnant bitch should be a standard part of her care while she's pregnant. Greencross Vets recommends that you deworm your pregnant dog 10 days prior to when she is scheduled to give birth. Then, deworm her every three weeks as long as she is nursing her puppies in order to prevent her from transmitting parasites through her milk. It's important that you only use a dewormer that is safe for pregnant dogs. Be sure to consult with your vet for his recommendations for your dog.
Deworming protocol for puppies
Even though you deworm the mother dog, it's still important to deworm the puppies too in order to make sure that they're parasite free. Greencross Vets recommends that you deworm your puppies every two weeks. Start this process when the puppies are two weeks old and continue it until they are 12 weeks old. Though deworming dogs can cost a bit, it is essential. If you're unfamiliar with how to deworm puppies or which type of dewormer to use, be sure to talk with your vet during your puppies' first appointment.