Deworming Dogs: Preventing and Treating Parasites

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. May 24, 2017
Deworming Dogs: Preventing and Treating Parasites

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In this AnimalWised article we will show you what parasites can affect dogs as well as the most frequent methods to deworm dogs and how to use them to prevent and treat parasites.

Internal and external deworming, along with vaccines, are among the most common preventive treatments for dogs. Thanks to these treatments, the possibility of dogs having external and internal parasites, passing them on to other dogs or their owners, and transmitting related diseases becomes significantly reduced.

It is very important to remember that dogs and humans share many parasites, and that they can be the cause of many serious diseases. Read on and find out all you need to know about deworming dogs.

You may also be interested in: Fleas in Rabbits - Detection and Prevention


  1. External parasites and how to prevent them
  2. When should you deworm your dog?
  3. Internal parasites and how to prevent them

External parasites and how to prevent them

The most common external parasites in dogs are fleas and ticks. They are arthropod parasites that feed on the blood from dogs and cats. Cats do not host fleas and ticks as often as dogs, because their frequent grooming allows them to eliminate them. However, it is essential to prevent fleas and ticks in all pets, because they can transmit serious diseases.

Ticks are very seasonal, and they usually appear in spring and less so in fall and summer. They are easy to locate because they stick to the dog in a fixed location.

By contrast, fleas are very mobile and often difficult to see, so much so that to know if a dog has fleas indirect techniques - such as looking for the parasite's feces - are used. To check if your dog has fleas, place it on a surface covered with white paper and brush its coat. Check through what has fallen and select the black specks. Place them on a piece of cotton wool or similar, moisten it and press it. If they are flea feces, a reddish furrow will appear around it.

To control ticks and fleas and deworm the dog, you will have to use topical insecticides. These include flea collars, pipettes, shampoos, sprays, etc. In the case of ticks, a direct application on the dog works well, and due to their seasonality it is easy to get good results.

In the case of fleas, you need to approach the problem differently. You can deworm dogs and cats all year round, but the parasites are difficult to eliminate due to their mobility. You will need to treat the whole environment surrounding your pet, including its bed, the floor, etc. Here you can learn more about how to remove fleas from dogs.

The mosquito is also an external parasite that feeds on blood, and it can transmit serious diseases. In the case of dogs, mosquitoes can infect them with leishmania and heartworm. The effectiveness of insecticides applied to the skin such as flea collars or pipettes is somewhat lower, because mosquitoes only come into contact with the dog at the time of the bite. Therefore, it is recommended to take additional measures such as using mosquito nets and avoiding walks in the moments of greatest mosquito activity, in addition to using repellents.

Deworming Dogs: Preventing and Treating Parasites - External parasites and how to prevent them

When should you deworm your dog?

Puppies are very likely to host intestinal parasites, which can pose a significant risk to their growth and development. It is always recommended to deworm the mother with an anti-parasitic treatment at the moment of mating to make sure she is properly vaccinated. Thus, the risk that the mother can transmit internal parasites to the puppies during lactation is reduced. Once weaned, we must deworm the puppies one or two weeks before the first vaccine dose. They have to be in perfect health for the vaccine to create a strong and effective immunity.

Blood parasites often affect adult dogs. It is necessary to be in contact with a mosquito to get them. If a disease is transmitted through a mosquito bite, it can take months or even years to manifest symptoms.

Deworming Dogs: Preventing and Treating Parasites - When should you deworm your dog?

Internal parasites and how to prevent them

There are two main groups of internal parasites in dogs:

  • Intestinal parasites include tapeworms (flatworms) and earthworms (roundworms). Increasingly frequent are certain intestinal protozoa such as Giardia. Drugs with active ingredients derived from febendazoles are generally used, although other active ingredients exist.

  • Hematologic parasites can be macroscopic (visible to the naked eye), such as the heartworm, or microscopic (protozoa), such as leishmania or rarer parasites. Heartworm is prevented with ivermectin, among other active ingredients. In the case of leishmania, however, a vaccine has started to be implemented.

If you are wondering how often should you deworm your dog to prevent and treat internal parasites, you should know that preventive treatments are performed at an average frequency of three months, although this varies depending on the risk factors of the animal. Hunting or working dogs are dewormed more often, while apartment dogs are dewormed four times a year.

Prevention of internal parasites in dogs is carried out by alternating between active ingredients against roundworms and against flat worms. Blood-borne parasites, transmitted through mosquito, tick and flea bites, must be controlled especially during the spring and summer, when the parasites are most active.

You can't choose the deworming method yourself; all anti-parasitic treatments must be supervised by a veterinarian. No matter whether your dog is a puppy or an adult dog that has just been adopted, the first step should always be to go to a specialist and start the best deworming treatment and the vaccination schedule as they see proper.

Deworming Dogs: Preventing and Treating Parasites - Internal parasites and how to prevent them

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Deworming Dogs: Preventing and Treating Parasites, we recommend you visit our De-worming category.

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Deworming Dogs: Preventing and Treating Parasites