The truth is that the vast majority of pups are born with some degree of a worm burden: While this can make some people feel squeamish, parasites are simply part of the circle of life. Admittedly, they are a rather unpleasant part, and most vets and owners alike wish they didn’t exist.
Thankfully, worms are easy to prevent and treat. While they have the potential to cause serious disease, this should not occur as long as veterinary advice is followed. Puppies need regular deworming and we should keep a close eye on their stool.
In most cases, puppies will poop worms for 1-3 days after being dewormed. In severe cases of worms, it may take up to a whole week before a puppy stops pooping worms.
Do All Puppies Need To Be Dewormed?
There is no doubt that ALL puppies need to be regularly de-wormed. In fact, a pregnant dog should be dewormed during her pregnancy, ensuring fewer worms are passed on to the litter. But still, all puppies need to be dewormed.
It is usually advised that Fenbendazole (e.g. Panacur) is given to the mother dog for the last few weeks of pregnancy.
How often do puppies need to be wormed?
Pups will be wormed every two weeks until they are 12 weeks old. At this point, they are treated monthly until 6 months old. Once they reach 6 months, we typically reduce the frequency of worming to every 3 months.
However, it is important to state that we should treat each individual based on their needs. For example, a puppy who is raw fed and constantly eating soil will need to be dewormed more often than one who eats tinned food and rarely leaves the pavement when on walks.
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How Long Will My Puppy Poop Worms After Deworming
Although we won’t always see worms in the puppy’s poop anyway, sometimes we will. If the wormer has been effective, these worms that are seen should be visibly dead. They will not move and can be disposed of in the same way you would get rid of the feces.
Most wormers will start working within the first day and any worms passed tend to be excreted within the first few days. However, those dogs with severe worm burdens may continue to pass worms for up to a week.
Remember, many worms (like hookworms and whipworms) are so small that you may not even notice them passing. It is sensible to keep an eye on your dog’s poo for a few days after they have been wormed, so you know what has been going on inside them.
How Do Puppies Get Worms?
There are several ways in which a pup can get worms.
- Some worms (such as roundworm) are transmitted by ingestion of infected milk from a mother dog.
- Worms can also be passed through the mother’s placenta while the puppy is still within the uterus.
- Young dogs can catch worms from ingesting an infected animal (e.g. if raw meat is fed or a mouse is hunted).
- Tapeworms are passed on from ingesting infected fleas.
- Many worm types are picked up in the environment. If an infected dog has passed faeces and this hasn’t been cleaned up properly, the pup may e.g. lick the floor or their own paws and unwittingly ingest the worm eggs or larvae. Whipworms, for example, are passed on in this manner.
- Hookworms can actually burrow into a dog’s skin from outside.
What Are The Signs Of Worms? How To Identify Them
It is important to state that a pup with a worm infestation won’t always have obvious signs.
We will sometimes notice a potbelly, a poor quality coat, an increased appetite, runny stool, and blood or mucus in the stool.
With bad infestations, your pup may not be growing as expected and might seem lethargic. Some may vomit and it is even possible to see live worms within the vomit or stool.
Types Of Worms That Puppies Can Get
As briefly discussed above, the most common worms that young pups can pick up include roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Heartworms take a while to mature so are not detected in those less than 7 months of age.
Roundworms are long, skinny, and white just like spaghetti. While roundworms will start off in a dog’s gastrointestinal tract, some can migrate to places such as their lungs and liver. Toxocara canis is found all over the world. Importantly, these parasites do cause a risk to humans. Toxocariasis in humans can largely be prevented by regularly de-worming dogs and implementing good hygiene.
Tapeworms have hook-like mouths and can attach themselves to the lining of the gut. Dipylidium caninum is the most commonly seen species in the puppy. We don’t generally see the full tapeworm passing in the feces but we can see the ‘proglottids’. These are the segments that look like grains of rice. They can stick to the fur around the anus so are relatively easy to detect. Most dogs tolerate tapeworms and they can ‘co-exist’ for a long time with no obvious symptoms. As tapeworms are so often associated with flea infestations, always be suspicious that a pup with tapeworm has fleas too.
Hookworms will suck blood and can cause anemia. They may lead to severe disease and even death in young pups. For some, a blood transfusion may be needed to save their lives. These worms have teeth and look like little monsters under the microscope. These worms can attach to a dog and burrow through their skin. As with roundworms, they can also be passed from the mother through her placenta or milk.
Whipworms are less pathogenic than other worms as they live in the large intestine and don’t absorb as many nutrients. This means that those with only a whipworm infestation may not show many symptoms. Possible signs include a round belly, diarrhea, and dehydration. While rarely seen, they look like a slim piece of thread within the poo. Whipworms are picked up in the environment, where they can live for many years. These parasites cannot be transmitted to humans.
What If The Worms Don’t Go Away?
If your puppy is passing live worms or if they continue to be passed for longer than expected, you may be wondering what is going on.
If there was a significant worm burden, it is possible not all were eliminated. Another course of de-wormer may be prescribed by the dog’s vet.
It is not uncommon for a breeder to say they have de-wormed a pup when they actually haven’t. Be sure to ask for the sticker that comes with the de-worming tablet and to ask for specific details i.e. when the wormer was given and at what dose.
Many owners and breeders will give a narrow-acting wormer, such as one that contains only Piperazine Citrate. This will only eliminate a few species of worms, such as roundworms. It is important that a broad-acting wormer is used in puppies, with Fenbendazole (Panacur) being one of the best options.
Some will under-dose the pup because they aren’t sure of their weight or to save money. Under-dosing can mean that the worms aren’t effectively eliminated. We should always weigh puppies the same day they are de-wormed so that they get their full dose.
Watch your pup closely to ensure they ingest the medicine and do not spit it out or vomit it back up.
Ensure your dog isn’t getting re-infected. A wormer can only do so much and if we do not treat an active flea infestation and do not deep clean the environment, your puppy will likely have worms again shortly.
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When To See a Vet
For the majority of young dogs, worms are a normal part of life and are easily dealt with. While we may see mild symptoms, such as diarrhea, these will resolve once the overall worm issue has been treated.
In rare cases, worms cause significant illness and even death. This can largely be prevented by seeking vet care promptly.
Pay attention to your pup if they start showing signs such as:
- Dehydration (dry gums)
- Pale gums
- Irregular or fast breathing
- Failure to thrive or gain weight
- Profuse diarrhoea
- Bloody diarrhoea
In the above cases, an immediate vet visit is needed. Puppies are not able to cope well with being ill. They have low body fat reserves and can quickly become dehydrated and develop low blood sugar levels.
Your vet will check your puppy thoroughly and may analyze the stool for parasites. They might also run further tests such as a CBC (complete blood count) to assess red blood cell levels.
Supportive care will be provided if your puppy is very poorly. This may include intravenous fluids, assisted feeding, and probiotics. Of course, any worm burden will be promptly treated. Going forward, the vet may re-analyze the stool to ensure the worms have been completely eliminated.
The Final Takeaway
So, for the most part, worms are easily dealt with and don’t cause major issues. Once your pup has been de-wormed, you may see dead worms in the stool. This is quite normal and should not last more than a few days. By keeping on top of the de-worming schedule, we should avoid any significant disease from occurring.