Most of us know that intestinal worms can cause serious health problems for our pets, but just how often should you worm your dog? The recommended frequency for deworming dogs should be based on lifestyle factors that increase their risk of picking up worms. But for many of our dogs in the UK, it might be more often than you think…
Benefits of worming your dog
Did you know that most dogs don’t show any signs of a worm infection? But if left untreated intestinal worms can cause serious problems, and not just for your dog. Worms commonly found in dogs, such as tapeworm and roundworm, can also infect humans and cause severe disease including blindness in young children.
Signs of worms in dogs
Often dogs will show few (if any) noticeable signs of infection, however it's still important to recognise the potential signs and consequences. Young puppies, in particular, are sensitive to the effects of intestinal worms and a severe infection can be fatal. Understanding how often you should worm your dog or puppy is crucial to help protect them.
Signs of worms in dogs may include:
- Weight loss
- Anaemia (low number of red blood cells)
- Pot-bellied appearance
- Visible tapeworm segments around the bottom (that look like grains of rice)
- Scooting or dragging their bottom along the floor
- Poor growth and development
Effective worming treatment given at the correct frequency is essential to help keep your dog worm-free not only for their health but also for your family’s.
How often should I worm my dog?
Many pet owners are confused as to how often they should be worming their dogs, as the recommended worming frequency depends on the risk of their dog picking up worms or making their family sick. Recent guidelines suggest that the majority of UK dogs should be wormed as often as once a month*, based on lifestyle factors like scavenging, spending time outdoors off-lead, and close contact with children or the elderly.† Click here to check if you're worming often enough.
Unlike parasite treatments for fleas and ticks, worming treatments don’t provide any long-lasting protection against intestinal worms. Any worms that are present within your dog’s gut will be killed at the time of treatment. But after the wormer has passed through the body (usually no more than a few days), there is no residual effect and your dog can become infected again. This is why the frequency for worming your dog should be regular and based on their risk of infection.
*Pennelegion, C., Drake, J., Wiseman, S. et al. Survey of UK pet owners quantifying internal parasite infection risk and deworming recommendation implications. Parasites Vectors 13, 218 (2020)
†ESCCAP Guideline Worm Control in Dogs and Cats