How To Treat Worms In Dogs

  • 06/10/2018

After getting a puppy it’s quite normal to quickly come to regard that little guy or gal as one of the family. For many, the term ‘fur baby’ is pretty darn appropriate, and most people have that same level of affinity for their dog throughout its entire life. So when your dog becomes sick with a parasitic infection you’re just as concerned as you would be if such a misfortune occurred to one of your children. Dogs do get worms, and often there’s not much you could have done to prevent it. Getting the right worm medicine for dogs is going to be an urgent priority for you in any such scenario. Let’s look at whether there’s one best worm medicine for dogs, or if there’s more than one that can share the distinction.

But for starters, there’s a number of different parasites that can be categorised as worms who may take up residence in your dog. Let’s have a look at some of the more common of them first, and then discuss whether or not there’s one magic bullet medication that can take on all of them.

Types of Worms

Roundworms – These unwelcome guests are usually spread by contact with faeces or while dogs are pregnant or nursing. Roundworms are parasites in the most direct sense of the term in that they eat the food of their hosts. So not only are they doing damage to your dog’s intestines, but they’re also making off with some of the nutritional value you have paid for buying quality dog food for your dog! Of course, you’ll be determined to eliminate them via an effective worm medicine for dogs.

Roundworms are usually white or light brown and a few inches long. You may see them in the dog’s faeces or vomit. In addition to actually spotting them, common symptoms of a roundworm infestation are diarrhoea, vomiting, belly pain, development of a pot belly, and even a dulling of the dog’s coat.

Hookworms – Hookworms are equally unwelcome and will take up residence in a dog’s small intestine a soon as they’re given the chance. They then ‘hook’ onto the intestine walls and proceed to suck the blood of the host. The infection causes weakness and malnutrition, and it is especially dangerous for puppies as it can be fatal for them. Finding the right worm medicine for dogs becomes an urgent matter if your dog is still a pup and you have reason to suspect he or she is infected with hookworms.

It’s important to note that humans can also become infected with hookworms, and this most commonly happens when people eat unwashed vegetables or walk barefoot on sand or soil in certain conditions.

Heartworms – Heartworms are introduced to a dog by the bite of a mosquito that is carrying incubating larvae of the worm. This makes it very difficult to prevent exposure to heartworm, but preventative heartworm medicine for dogs is very affordable and very effective for preventing the larvae from being able to develop into adult worms. That’s a good thing, especially when you consider that adult heartworms can be up to 14” long in some cases and if left unchecked they can promote heart failure.

Be on the lookout for your dog coughing incessantly or having trouble breathing. There are other symptoms as well, and any of them may make it necessary for you to get heartworm medicine for dogs.

Whipworms - Dogs can pick up whipworms when they seat themselves on contaminated soil or when they are grooming themselves in an unhygienic manner. A whipworm infestation is usually immediately apparent because the dog will have bloody diarrhoea when these worms are found in large numbers in its intestines. The best worm medicine for dogs used to treat heartworm can often be similarly effective for whipworm, but it is best to discuss this with your veterinarian.


The first step in understanding how to deworm dogs is to have a definitive understanding that it’s worms that are causing the symptoms you’re seeing in your dog. Most of these parasites will be found in the dog’s intestines, so what some owners will do is take a stool sample from their dog and take it to the veterinarian. If your dog has worms they will be found quite easily in the sample when it’s placed under a microscope. These worms are quite common in puppies, so vets recommend giving them an initial deworming treatment when they’re 2 to 3 weeks old.

The answer to whether or not there is one best worm medicine for dogs is that there isn’t one that is equally effective for all types of parasitic worm infestations. It is always best to follow your veterinarian’s instructions about which medication to administer to your dog, but if you want to be reassuring yourself then you can look for it to contain one or more of these six ingredients listed on the packaging:

Praziquantel (Drontal)

Fenbendazole (Panacur)

Pyrantel Pamoate (Heartgard Plus / Drontal)

Milbemycin (Interceptor Spectrum)

Moxidectin (Advantage Multi)

Nitroscanate (Lopatol)

Piperazine (Pipa-Tabs)

One of these will be the primary ingredient in any quality worm medicine for dogs, and Pyrantel Pamoate is the safest of them and can be given to young puppies and pregnant females. Drugs with moxidectin (Advantage Multi) are not recommended for herding dogs like collies, bull terriers, shepherds and others because of a risk of neurotoxicity in only these breeds. Referred to as moxidectin poisoning, it is a real risk and should be taken into consideration if your dog is one of the herders listed in the link above. There are some other side effect concerns that you may want to be aware of as well.

Possible Side Effects for Dog Deworming Medications

Take precautions when deciding to administer a worm medicine for dogs if any of the following potential side effects of the drugs might be especially concerning for your dog:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort

In conclusion, there’s no single best worm medicine for dogs, but rather there are several good ones and the one that is best for your dog will depend on their breed, age, gender, current physiological conditions, and – most importantly – the advice of your veterinarian.

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