Is Deworming Necessary for Dogs?

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. July 18, 2022
Is Deworming Necessary for Dogs?

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Internal and external deworming of dogs is recommended by veterinarians for almost every dog. The only exception might be if the deworming agent could cause them harm due to allergy or another health issue, but there is usually an alternative available. Despite deworming preventing parasitosis in millions of dogs across the world, it is a practice which is still regularly neglected by many dog guardians.

While there may be issues concerning cost or other requirements, deworming should be an option for every dog. This is why AnimalWised answers the common question posed by guardians, is deworming necessary for dogs? We do so by looking at what happens if I don't deworm a dog.

You may also be interested in: How To Deworm Your Canary
  1. Is it mandatory to deworm a dog?
  2. Why is it important to deworm dogs?
  3. Consequences of not deworming a dog
  4. What happens if I vaccinate my dog without deworming?

Is it mandatory to deworm a dog?

Before we can answer whether it is necessary to deworm a dog, we need to make the distinction between mandatory deworming and necessary deworming. When we ask if it is mandatory to deworm your dog, we mean is it illegal not to do so.

In many jurisdictions, it is illegal not to deworm your dog. As with registering the dog and providing vaccinations, some areas have laws which require all dogs to be dewormed. This can have varying stipulations, but it is common for this deworming to be carried out once a year. This information is recorded as part of a certificate or other legal documentation such as a pet passport.

Whether your area requires mandatory deworming depends on your local legislation. This can change according to country, state or even county, so you will have to speak to your veterinarian about the the laws.

Despite it being a legal requirement in many districts, it is very difficult to police deworming. Neither police nor veterinarians usually have the resources to track this issues and penalties are often only incurred if the dog's information is checked circumstantially. Prosecution is also often very difficult.

Although it may not be a legal requirement where you live, we share some important information to explain why this doesn't mean you should neglect your dog's deworming.

Why is it important to deworm dogs?

When we ask whether it is necessary to deworm a dog, we are talking about a preventive measure. As with vaccinations, seat belts and similar precautions, there is a chance your dog will not suffer from parasites. Your dog can live a healthy life and not be affected by them. This is especially the case if they remain indoors a lot and do not interact with other animals or environments.

Unfortunately, a dog that does not go outside much nor meets other animals is likely not leading a full and happy life. Canines are social animals that need to expend a lot of energy and receive suitable levels of engagement to avoid stress, boredom, behavioral issues and physical ailments. Although these factors are necessary in a dog's life, they also pose the risk of being infested with parasites.

Dogs can get parasites from many vectors, such as eating something they shouldn't, from interacting with an infested dog or even walking in tall grass. These parasites can be either internal or external, infesting various parts of the dog's body:

  • External parasites: different types of external parasites in dogs include fleas, ticks, lice, mites, mosquitoes and sandflies. Many of these parasites cause superficial wounds to appear on the skin, but these can become very bad if the infestation is large and they suffer secondary bacterial infection. Many of these parasites can themselves be vectors of disease which are passed on through blood contamination. Some of these diseases can be fatal.

  • Internal parasites: includes tapeworms, roundworms or other types of intestinal parasite in dogs. There are also some which can lodge in the eyes, heart, lungs or other vital organs which destroy their function and result in the death of the animal.

We must also be aware that the detection of the parasites can be very difficult. Even if we spot some external parasites in our dog, it is likely they are only a small part of the whole infestation. With internal parasites we may not see any symptoms until the dog has suffered serious internal damage. Many parasites carry zoonotic diseases which can affect other animals as well as humans in the home. Vulnerable persons such as children, the elderly and otherwise immunocompromised persons are at particular risk.

For this reason, it is necessary to deworm your dog. If you want them to live a full life, they will have to go to places and interact with organisms that pose a threat to their health. Deworming a dog is the best line of defense against parasites. We detail the harmful repercussions of not deworming a dog in the next section.

Consequences of not deworming a dog

When a dog becomes parasitized, it can have various repercussions on their health. This will depend on the type of parasite. A disease which results from such an infestation is known as parasitosis. These can be mild, such as when they cause superficial itching or mild stomach upset. They can also be deadly, shutting down bodily functions and decimating their immune systems.

The repercussions of not deworming a dog can depend on the type of parasite:

  • External parasites: fleas, ticks and other external parasites bite the skin of the dog and cause skin reactions such as atopic dermatitis. This can be frustrating, painful and put the dog at risk of secondary bacterial infections. The dog will also likely scratch the area which can remove hair and result in wounds. Other external parasites such as bot flies can lay eggs in the dog's skin and destroy various tissues. Mosquitoes and other parasites can also infect the dog when they suck their blood, leading to potentially deadly diseases such as leishmaniasis in dogs.

  • Internal parasites: since many internal parasites infest the dog through what they eat, many of their symptoms are related to gastrointestinal disorders. This can cause vomiting and diarrhea in the dog, as well as other digestive issues. When these are sufficiently acute, they can shut the dog's body down and are particularly dangerous to immunocompromised dogs. Puppies which have heavy infestation can develop illnesses such as anemia which stay with them throughout life. Parasites such as heartworms in dogs can cause filariasis, a parasitosis which can eat away at the tissue of the dog's heart and kill them.

The extent of the parasitosis and other repercussions will depend on the extent of the infestation, the health of the dog, what treatment they receive and other factors. If we do not deworm the dog, the parasitization can progress to a stage it threatens their life, even if it was otherwise avoidable. This is another reason it is necessary to deworm your dog.

Based on what we have explained in the previous section, the consequences of not deworming not only affect the animal, but also affect people and the environment in which the dog lives. Dogs infested with parasites risk contamination and contagion within our homes, as well as posing serious health risks to the animal themselves.

A parasitized dog will be helping to maintain and distribute the eggs and the different phases of the parasite's life cycle throughout the environment. This poses a risk to other animals and people in the home, if the parasite carries a dog disease transferrable to humans.

The veterinarian is the one who can best advise us on the deworming our dog requires. This will largely depend on the area in which you live as not all parasites are prevalent in the same places. The type of deworming they need should be determined while they are a puppy. The vet will asses their health and arrange an appointment to give them their first vaccination.

Is Deworming Necessary for Dogs? - Consequences of not deworming a dog

What happens if I vaccinate my dog without deworming?

In addition to the disorders and diseases a parasitized dog can suffer or transmit, it is important to know that parasites affect the effectiveness of vaccines. The function of a vaccination is to prepare the dog's immune system to fight the different pathologies against which it is vaccinated.

Some factors, such as the presence of disease, are known to interfere with the effectiveness of vaccination. Among these diseases are types of parasitosis, even if we do not detect any clinical sign of parasites in the dog. For the immune system to react correctly to vaccination, the animal must be at an appropriate level of health. If this is not the case, a hyporesponse can occur which leads to vaccine failure.

Even if the dog has been vaccinated, the result is a loss of protection against the disease for which they are inoculated. For this reason, it is recommended we deworm dogs a few days before being vaccinated. Fortunately, your veterinarian will have all the information you need to best avoid such a problem. It is one of the important reasons it is essential we set up suitable deworming and vaccination deworming schedules for our dog to ensure they get the best preventive care possible.

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 Is Deworming Necessary for Dogs?, we recommend you visit our De-worming category.

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Is Deworming Necessary for Dogs?