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When To Deworm A Puppy: A Specialist’s Guide - PawSafe
Dog Healthcare

When To Deworm A Puppy: A Specialist’s Guide

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

how to deworm a puppy

Welcome to the pup-friendly world of deworming! If you’re like me, who often has to dive head-first into caring for my own puppies and fosters, you know that keeping pups worm-free can be tougher than it seems. Not only do puppies constantly eat things they shouldn’t but if you live in a multi-pet household, then cross-contamination is a pretty prevalent problem.

Deworming might not be the most glamorous part of pet parenting, but it’s crucial for their well-being. I’ve also treated enough worm-infested dogs to know that intestinal parasites take this seriously.  But still, if you’re asking, “when can I deworm my puppy,” then it’s best to have a schedule, and know everything about correct dosages and which dewormer to pick.

So, Let’s embark on this journey with loads of practical advice on how to deworm your puppy at home, from 2 weeks old to a year, and what dewormer’s work and what don’t.  We will also use expert insights, including those from Dr. Jason Stull from Ohio State University’s Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, in his work on deworming protocols. Ready? Let’s paw and learn!”

Ideally a breeder will deworm the mother dog when she is about 40 days pregnant. But if you missed this gap, you can deworm her up to two days after giving birth.

So, to reiterate, the first deworming should be at about 2 weeks old. A gentle yet effective medicine called pyrantel pamoate, given at 5 mg/kg orally, is your go-to. After this first time, you’ll want to keep up the treatment every two weeks until they’re about 12 weeks old. This step is crucial to keep them safe from common puppy parasites.

In my experience, I found it’s crucial to start deworming early. A while back, I ended up with two pregnant Bullmastiffs who fell into my care when the breeder could no longer care for them. So, I had them x-rayed about a month into their pregnancy and then dewormed about 10 days later, when they were at the 40 day mark. 

You may want to see our article on how long dogs take to have puppies for more information on the course of a dog’s pregnancy. Treating a pregnant dog for worms ensures the puppies get the necessary nutrients to grow strong and healthy without parasites sucking up all their nutrients.

At 2 weeks old, I treated the whole litter with a neonatal-friendly dewormer, also treating the mother to prevent cross-contamination. We repeated the process at 4 and 6 weeks, aligning with their first vaccinations. Before the puppies left at 8 weeks, they received their final deworming. 

For older puppies, I like to make things easier by making sure they get dewormer with tick and flea treatment and their shots at 2 months, 3 months, and again at 6 months. Getting it all at the same time just reduces the number of things you need to juggle when you have young dogs.

Puppy Deworming Schedule

To know exactly when to give puppies dewormer, here’s a chart you can use to set your calendar. We will look at what dewormers are best for puppies at different ages next.

Age of PuppyDeworming FrequencyRecommended DewormerNotes
Newborn to 2 weeksPrior to birth (via mother)Maternal DewormerEnsure mother is dewormed during pregnancy.
2 weeksInitial DewormingNeonatal-Safe DewormerStart early with a formula safe for newborns.
4 weeksSecond DoseNeonatal-Safe DewormerRepeat to ensure thorough parasite removal.
6 weeksWith First VaccinationsStandard Puppy DewormerAlign with vaccination schedule.
8 weeksBefore AdoptionStandard Puppy DewormerFinal round before they go to new homes.
3 monthsWith VaccinationsStandard Puppy DewormerPart of regular health check-up.
6 monthsWith VaccinationsStandard Puppy DewormerTransitioning to adult deworming schedule.
Regular ScheduleAs per vet’s adviceAdult Dog DewormerFollow vet’s recommended schedule.

This table and accompanying advice offer a comprehensive view of when and how to deworm puppies, ensuring they grow up healthy and strong.

What Dewormer Should I Choose For My Puppy?

Alright, let’s break down the deworming game for puppies and kittens so you know what to look for. So, most vets are big fans of pyrantel (like Nemex or Zoetis) for the little ones. It’s super safe for puppies and kittens as young as 2 weeks old. 

This drug starts the battle against roundworms and hookworms, but it’s not a one-hit wonder for all worms. Since it doesn’t tackle whipworms, tapeworms, or the larval stages of some worms, you’ll need to give a few doses over time.

But hey, don’t just rely on the medicine. Fecal testing is key to figure out which worms are crashing the party. These tests help tailor the treatment, especially since some sneaky worm stages can dodge detection. Once the vaccinations are all done, another poop check helps make sure the coast is clear.

I like doing fecal testing because it can pick up any nasties that normal dewormers don’t always cover, such liver flukes.

As puppies grow, the deworming menu gets broader. The age and weight of your fur baby determine which meds are the best fit. For example, praziquantel is cool for puppies from 3 weeks old, while fenbendazole works for even younger ones but needs a 3-day treatment. And then there’s fenbantal for puppies at least 8 weeks old and 2 pounds heavy.

Choosing the right dewormer can be a bit tricky, especially with all the combo drugs out there. The key? Read those labels carefully. A clear chart with age, weight, and dosing info helps keep things smooth.

It’s also about knowing your pet’s lifestyle. A dog with fleas might need a tapeworm-targeting dewormer, and a farm puppy’s needs differ from an apartment-dwelling pup. Since I live in a rural area, my dogs are exposed to a much broader range of parasites than dogs in the city. Plus, the heartworm prevention game often ties into deworming, so make sure to keep your vet in the loop to make sure your pup is covered for everything.

First-time deworming depends on when the pet steps into your life. A 12-week-old puppy might need just two doses 2 weeks apart, but a 4-week-old one needs more frequent doses. And hey, just ’cause they were dewormed before doesn’t mean it’s all done.

Many heartworm preventatives include dewormers, so that can cut down on separate deworming sessions. The type of parasite also steers the plan, like for whipworms, where timing is everything.

Remember, deworming isn’t just a one-time thing. It’s about the right med, the right dose, and keeping up with the schedule. And with options like liquids, pills, and even injectables, there’s flexibility to keep pet parents on board with the treatment.

Can You Deworm Your Puppy on Your Own? 

Absolutely, you can take on the deworming yourself. Just be sure you’ve got the right dewormer (like pyrantel for the little ones) and that you’re following the dosing instructions carefully. For the usual worms, this works great. The dose is pretty simple – 1ml for every 10 pounds of their tiny weight. Using a syringe, you gently give them the medicine in their mouth, being careful with the dosage.

For young puppies between the age of two weeks and one month, the best dewormer often comes as a liquid, inside a syringe that you will inject into their mouth. The amount that you inject depends on the puppy’s weight. We will give some dosage guidelines below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRjY-qXRt1k.

However as your puppy gets older and can chew, your vet can give you chewable dewormers like Milbemax. These you can give your puppy like a treat. 

However, if you’re tackling something more serious like heartworm, or flukes in the liver or lungs, it’s time to call in the pros. These require specific treatments and a vet’s expert touch. They’ll guide you through it and make sure your pup gets exactly what they need.

How Do I Know if My Puppy Has Worms?

Common signs of worms in puppies include diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, a bloated stomach, a dull coat, itching around the anus, and visible worms in feces or vomit. Behavioral changes such as lethargy, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, coughing, and anemia are also indicators.

 For a more comprehensive understanding, you can refer to the article “How to Tell If a Dog Has Worms: Signs and Symptoms to Look Out For“.

Is Morning or Night the Best Time to Deworm a Puppy?

The optimal time for deworming a puppy depends on several factors, including the puppy’s daily routine, feeding schedule, and tolerance to the medication. If your puppy is more active during the day and rests at night, morning deworming might be more convenient. Since dewormers can sometimes give a puppy a runny tummy, you may prefer to give it in the morning to try to avoid too many potty runs at night.

Deworming in the morning also allows for better medication absorption and distribution, easier monitoring of the puppy’s response to the medication, and provides ample time for the puppy to rest and recover from any potential side effects.

On the other hand, deworming at night can be effective as worms are most active during this time, maximizing the effectiveness of the treatment. It also allows the puppy to rest and recover during the following day, and can be more convenient for dog owners​.

Deworming Dosage for Puppies

When it comes to the dosage of dewormer for puppies, it is essential to consider both the weight of the puppy and the amount of active ingredient per ml or mg of the medication. This is really going to depend on the type of dewormer you use. The exact dosage should be determined based on the dosage chart provided on the medication’s label. It’s important to weigh your puppy before each dose, as puppies grow quickly. 

The dewormer should cover common intestinal worms like tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, and heartworms. Note that dewormers are intended to kill existing worms and do not prevent new infestations. It’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and not to rely on online dosage charts, as they are often brand-specific and may not be applicable to all dewormers​

Heresare the guidelines  for osages for Pyrantel and Ponazuril.

  1. Pyrantel Dosage: Administered at 1 ml per 10 lbs of body weight.
  2. Ponazuril Dosage: Administered at 50 mg per kg of body weight for puppies under 6 months of age, as a one-time dose for coccidia prophylaxis.

Note: This chart is based on the given dosages. The actual dosage may vary depending on the specific product and a veterinarian’s guidance. Always consult with a veterinarian before administering any medication to ensure the safety and health of your puppy. ​

The Importance of Deworming Your Puppy

Deworming your puppy is a crucial aspect of pet care, ensuring not only the health and wellbeing of your furry friend but also safeguarding your household from various risks associated with worm infestations.

Risks to Newborn puppies

Have you ever heard of Fading Puppy Syndrome? It’s a heartbreaking condition where a newborn pup, who looks perfectly healthy at first, starts to struggle and often doesn’t make it. This can happen despite all the love and care you give them. Experts like Dr. Amita Ranjan have shed light on this, noting that pups can show signs as early as 2 to 10 days old, becoming less interested in feeding and staying away from their siblings.

Some serious infections, like Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum, can be passed from mom to pups even before they’re born, leading to these issues. But these cases are quite rare. More commonly, worms like hookworms and roundworms, which can sneak in through mom’s milk or even before birth, are the culprits. 

They can make the puppies look bloated, have tummy troubles, and either eat too much or too little. Regular deworming of the mom is super important to keep these nasties away from the little ones.

Health Risks to  Older Puppies

Puppies are particularly susceptible to worms, which can lead to serious health issues if not addressed. Common worms like roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea and vomiting to more severe conditions like malnutrition, anemia, or even blockages in the intestines. In some cases, worms can be fatal, especially in very young or weak puppies.

Household Risks

The presence of worms in puppies also poses risks to the household. Some types of worms can be transmitted to humans, especially to children who are more likely to come into close contact with pets and may not always practice good hygiene. This can lead to a range of health issues in humans, from skin irritations to more serious conditions like organ damage or neurological problems in severe cases.

Natural Home Remedies For Worms: Caution Needed

While natural remedies for deworming, like garlic, are often touted as safer or more ‘holistic’. In a word, please don’t use home remedies for worms. Garlic is a common one that is actually toxic for dogs. High fiber foods do not get rid of intestinal parasites either. Since these nasty little things can wreak havoc on tiny bodies, investing in an approved medical dewormer is worth it for any puppy. 

Final Thoughts on When to Deworm Puppies

As we wrap up our chat on deworming our adorable puppies, let’s hit the key points one last time. Remember, deworming isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s an absolute must for your puppy’s health and a happy home.

Start Early and Keep it Regular

Deworming should kick off when puppies are super young, like at 2 weeks old. It’s not just a one-off thing, though. Regular deworming is crucial as they grow, especially since different worms and their sneaky larval stages can pop up at different times.

Tailor to Their Needs

Every puppy is unique, so their deworming schedule might vary based on factors like their age, weight, lifestyle, and what worms are common in your area. It’s not just about the calendar; it’s also about what’s best for your puppy. So, a chat with your vet is always a great idea to get that personalized plan in place.

Watch for the Worm Signs

Keep an eye out for any signs that worms might be bothering your pup. Things like an upset tummy, looking a bit under the weather, or changes in appetite can be clues. And, of course, those regular fecal tests are super important to keep track of what’s happening inside.

Prevention and Protection

Some heartworm medications also help with other worms, so they can do double duty. This can simplify your deworming routine, but again, check with your vet for the best combo for your furry friend.

Final Takeaway

Deworming is all about keeping your puppy healthy and full of that adorable puppy energy. It’s about peace of mind for you, knowing you’re doing everything to protect your puppy and your family. So, stick to that deworming schedule, keep in touch with your vet, and enjoy all the tail wags and cuddles from your healthy, happy pup!

Remember, the health and safety of your puppy are paramount, and consulting with a veterinarian for personalized advice and treatment is always recommended.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

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Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.