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Sometimes we hide deworming tablets in meat, and at other times we try to mask the taste with strong flavours like honey or cheese: because hard as it may be, we all need to give our dogs deworming tablets every three months once they are grown up.

(Puppies need to be dewormed more frequently. See below for the proper schedule and dosage for deworming.)

Also known as anthelmintic medication, deworming tablets get rid of worms or parasites like tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. Some of these worms can lead to severe (even life-threatening) diseases, so it is important that we give our pets the right dose, on schedule.

Some canine and feline parasites can also make humans sick. This is another reason why it is so important for pet owners to recognise the signs, symptoms, medication and prevention for these parasitic worms.

  1. Which worms cause diseases in dogs?
  2. What are the symptoms of worms in dogs?
  3. Dosage and schedule for deworming of dogs
  4. Precautions and Side-effects of deworming

Though some worm-related conditions are easily treated, there are some intestinal parasites that can lead to life-threatening diseases in pets. These are caused by parasites that can dig into the intestines of animals and harm their digestive system. There are some specific worms that commonly affect dogs:

1. Whipworms

Whipworms are extremely thin parasites, making them difficult to spot them. Whipworm eggs live in the soil. These eggs can get attached to your dog’s body when he/she gets that soil on his/her paws, toys, food or water dishes. 

The most common problem seen in pets with whipworms is recurring diarrhoea.

Whipworm causes inflammation of the intestines. It can also present with serious symptoms like anaemia, dehydration, lethargy, and weight loss. 

It does not affect the dog owners. 

2. Roundworms

Roundworms are light brown or off-white coloured worms that can feed on dogs' intestines. They can be easily noticed in the poop of affected pets.

Dogs can get roundworms when they eat dirt or faeces contaminated with roundworm eggs. Puppies can also get the worms from their mothers: most mothers have dormant (sleeping) larvae of roundworm in their tissues. These larvae come to life at the end of the pregnancy and migrate into the lungs of the new pups.

Mild symptoms of roundworm include stomach pain, low weight, dull coat, dry skin, weakness and sometimes potbelly. Roundworms can also lead to severe symptoms like liver damage or intestinal blockage.

Roundworms can be transmitted from pets to humans, so always wash your hands after handling dog faeces, and don’t allow children to play near soil where dogs have pooped.

3. Hookworms

Hookworms feed on intestinal blood. They can be transmitted from infected faeces or even directly through the skin when a dog walks through wet grass or on sand where the larvae are active.

Hookworms produce symptoms such as diarrhoea, pale gums, weakness, tiredness, and anaemia.

Humans can also be hosts for hookworms, so you must clean your hands every time you pick up after your dog.

4. Tapeworms

Tapeworms are cream-coloured worm segments that live in the small intestine. They are found around the anus region on dogs and other pets. They can be transmitted through infected soil, from ingesting fleas while self-grooming, or even from eating rodents.

The most common symptom of tapeworm in dogs is itchiness around the anus. In severe cases, the dog might have abdominal pain, nervousness, weight loss and vomiting.

Like with many other medical conditions, early detection of worms in dogs can improve the chances of a quick and complete recovery. Here's a quick list of the most common symptoms to look out for:

  • Lethargy or tiredness
  • Worm segments around the anal area
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing
  • Weight loss
  • Anaemia
  • Vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • Potbelly (bloating in the stomach area)
  • Blood in the faeces

Take your dog to see the vet if you notice any of these symptoms. You vet might ask for a stool sample to check which type of worm might be making your dog ill.

Deworming medicines kill the worms inside the intestines. The next time your dog poops, the worms will come out with the excreta. The deworming regime is different for dogs of different ages and weights. 

1. For puppies up to three months of age

Deworming schedule: You need to give them dewormers once every 15 days.

Type of deworming medication: Deworming syrup.

Dosage: The dosage depends on the weight of the puppy. For every 1 kilogram weight, give 1-millilitre syrup.

2. For dogs aged three to six months

Deworming schedule: You need to give them dewormers once a month.

Type of deworming medication: Now you can shift to deworming tablets.

Dosage: For every 10 kilogram weight, give one tablet.

3. For dogs aged six to 12 months

Deworming schedule: You need to give them dewormers once every two months.

Type of deworming medication: Tablet form.

Dosage: The dosage depends on your dog's weight: for every 10 kilograms, give one tablet. So if your dog weighs 15 kilograms at this stage, please give him/her one-and-a-half tablets.

4. For dogs older than one

Deworming schedule: You need to give them dewormers once every three months.

Type of deworming medication: Medication could be given in tablet form.

Dosage: The dosage depends on weight. For every 10 kilogram weight, give one tablet.

Giving multiple tablets to grown dogs can be quite tricky: after some time, they can sniff out the medicine in food and treats. To deal with this, some manufacturers have started making bigger deworming medicines for extra-large (XL) dogs. So if your dog weighs over 25 kilograms, you can opt for these "XL" varients: check the box for the dosage, but usually, one tablet per 25 kilograms is recommended.

There are also deworming injections available in the market. But veterinary doctors typically discourage their use, as they don't kill some worms - especially tapeworms, which can be quite dangerous for dogs and their owners.

The dosage will also change in case your dog already has worms. Check with your veterinary doctor for the right dosage and schedule, as these may change on a case by case basis.

Some dogs may experience diarrhoea, vomiting, temporary loss of appetite, listlessness or excessive salivation for a short time after taking the medicines. Please consult your vet if these signs persist beyond a few hours.

Veterinary doctors also recommend taking steps to reduce your dog's exposure to fleas and rodents as much as possible. Dipylidium caninum, a tapeworm that typically affects dogs but can also make people sick, is transmitted by fleas.

If your dog has had worms in the past, make sure to keep the follow-up appointments with your veterinary doctor to check for recurrence after the initial treatment.

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