Having a dog in your life comes with countless benefits, but if we’re being honest, there are also some unavoidable realities of dog ownership that are not very pleasant, including worms. For the uninitiated, I’m not talking about those friendly little guys you see popping up on the sidewalk after it rains, or the ones that fishermen use for bait; I’m talking about a type of parasite that actually lives inside of your dog, essentially freeloading its way through life by “vampiring” nutrients from your pup through feeding on its blood.
These worms come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes, and have various gross-sounding names such as hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. All of this sounds quite disgusting and even a little harrowing, but believe it or not, worm infestations are actually quite common.
Most dogs already have enough immune strength to carry on with life as usual even if they do have worms in their system, but sometimes these parasites can get out of hand. When that happens, your dog can become ill, and in some extreme cases (such as an advanced heartworm infestation), it can be fatal to your pup. For this reason, it’s never a good idea to just gloss over a worm problem as if it’s no big deal; truth be told, most of the “big deal” problems in our lives end up getting big because we failed to take care of them when they were small. This definitely holds true in terms of getting rid of worms in your dog; the sooner you address this cumbersome condition, the better.
So How Do You Get Rid Of Worms In Dogs?
As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure”, but what if your dog already has worms? Focusing on a combination of treatment and prevention strategies will not only help you rid your dog of those pesky parasites, but it will also help reduce the likelihood that they can infest your dog again in the future. So how exactly can you do this? Well, many people automatically defer to medicine when they decide to embark upon a treatment and prevention plan for worms in dogs, but I want to offer another idea for your consideration: Natural remedies.
Now for many people, as soon as you mention the phrase “natural remedies” or “home remedies”, they automatically assume that you’re one of those people who hate medicine, or believe that medicine is evil. I can assure you that this is totally not the case with me. I actually greatly appreciate the medical community, as well as everything that science and technology has given us to help pets remain healthy.
My goal in writing this is simply to get you to consider using natural treatments for worms in dogs, because truth be told, there are some powerful remedies for this bothersome condition that are entirely natural and organic, and are completely safe to use on your pup. In my mind, this is a welcome contrast to many of the medicines out there that can carry potentially harmful side effects. Now I want to go ahead and get to the fun part where I list the various natural treatments I have researched, but before I do that, I did want to provide a basic primer about worms, as well as what symptoms to look for to let you know that your dog might have be infested by these insidious parasites. So let’s get to it!
The Most Common Types Of Dog Worms
These are by far the most prevalent type of parasitic worm found in dogs, and they normally take up residence inside of your dog’s small intestine. Roundworms are so common in young puppies, it’s basically the rule more than the exception for a new puppy to have roundworms coming out of the womb. This happens by way of roundworm eggs being transferred in utero from the mother to her pup, or even through the mother’s milk after the pup is born. For this reason, most vets recommend getting your puppy treated for roundworms within the first three months of its life, just to be on the safe side.
This parasitic worm is typically long and flat, with a head that has suckers and hooks that can basically attach to the inside of your dog’s intestines. Once a tapeworm has latched on, it will siphon nutrients from your pup for as long as it possibly can. The body of a tapeworm is comprised of several segments that often break off into the feces of your dog.
In fact, when examined closely (which is not a fun way to pass the time), you can sometimes see these small segments – which look like small grains of white rice – crawling around in your dog’s excrement, or near your dog’s anus. Yes, this is thoroughly disgusting, but it’s one of the realities of a worm infestation. Anyway, tapeworms are hard to kill if you don’t attack the head of this little creature; in fact, destroying the head is the only way to permanently get rid of a tapeworm, because they can regenerate an entirely new tapeworm from just one segment! Sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, but it’s true!
These parasites are some of the most pathogenic of all the different intestinal worms, and they infect roughly 20 percent of all dogs in North America. Hookworms like to hang out in your dog’s small intestine, and they are typically diagnosed by veterinarians with the help of a microscope, using a stool sample from your dog.
These parasites get their name from their shape, as they are tapered at one end just like a whip. Whipworms are somewhat lazy, because they don’t even try to go too far into your dog’s system; they just hang out in the cecum, which is basically the “foyer” of your dog’s large intestine. Not only that, but they don’t even lay that many eggs in comparison to other parasitic worms. Although whipworms like to take the easy way out in terms of feeding and reproducing, they’re some resilient little suckers, because many times reinfection can occur even after treatments have taken place.
These worms are quite dangerous to your pooch, because they actually attach themselves to your pup’s heart and/or lungs. Heartworms also differ from the other worms in terms of how they are transmitted, because mosquitoes actually carry contaminated blood – which contains early-stage microscopic heartworms – from one infected dog to another.
Symptoms Of Worms In Dogs
Although there are several different types of worms, they generally produce the same kind of symptoms across the board, which include:
- Frequent diarrhea
- Your dog may run a fever
- Your dog may scoot or rub its bottom on the floor, or even frequently lick its rectum
- Reduced appetite
- Dull-looking hair coat
- Brittle hair
- Worm segments in your dog’s stool
- Lethargy or weakness
Okay, now let’s get to the good stuff!
Natural (Home) Remedies To Prevent Worms In Dogs
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
If your dog’s typically overly-alkaline system is balanced out, it can become a hard place for parasites to live. You can add about a half a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s food or water to help balance out your pup’s system, so that it can remain in an ideal alkaline state. If you’re not sure whether your dog’s pH is where it needs to be, you can purchase pH test strips from any pharmacy to take a couple of tests. Just hold the strip in your pup’s urine stream for about 1-3 seconds. If your pooch’s pH is between 6.5 and 7, you’re on the right track.
2. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a great natural substance to use to help prevent or even expel worms from your dog’s system. The effect that pumpkin seeds have on intestinal worms is very interesting; they don’t kill the worm, but instead they paralyze the parasite so that it cannot hold on to your dog’s intestinal wall any longer. That means that the next time your pup has a bowel movement, out the worm goes! Try picking up some organic or raw pumpkin seeds, and grind them up really well so that you can add them to your pup’s food. Tip: Pumpkin seeds pair quite well with ground meat.
This powerful herb actually kills the eggs of the parasites, so that the reproductive cycle is basically stopped in its tracks. Try using ground clove leaves – roughly one clove per 10 pounds of your dog’s body weight – in your pup’s food. You can also sprinkle clove powder into the food instead, and it will do the job just as well.
This highly versatile herb will go to work to help prevent and expel troublesome parasites such as whipworms and roundworms. Chamomile is often used to prepare teas because it has calming, anti-inflammatory properties, and these same properties work in your pup’s system to calm down its beleaguered intestinal tract any time parasites cause gas, discomfort, bloating, or cramps. Try adding about 0.35 ml per 20 pounds of body weight of chamomile into your dog’s water (via tincture) twice a day.
5. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
This fascinating powder is made from the fossils of tiny aquatic organisms known as diatoms. While the powder is very soft and basically harmless to humans and animals, it can wreak havoc on a parasite’s body, acting like sharp razor blades that can puncture and slice up that nasty worm so that it dies from dehydration.
You can add this DE powder into your dog’s food based on body weight, using one teaspoon per day for small dogs, and one tablespoon per day for large dogs. Just be sure to mix the powder in well with your pup’s food so that he/she won’t inhale it, which can cause lung irritation. Remember to choose the diatomaceous earth that is labeled “food grade” and not “pool grade”, as the latter is not fit for consumption by humans or animals.
Hey, if it’s good enough to stave off vampires, it has to be effective on worms, right? On a serious note, garlic contains several powerful organic compounds that are essentially toxic to parasites, but totally harmless to humans and dogs. Interestingly enough, one recent study found that garlic is just as effective in fighting off parasites as Ivermectin, a popular deworming medicine.
The “magic” behind garlic is its ability to rid the intestinal wall of mucus, which makes the intestine an unpleasant environment for parasitic worms. Not only that, but garlic contains an important amino acid known as allacin, which fights off hookworms and roundworms in particular. If you have a small dog, try adding about one-fourth of a clove of garlic to your pup’s food twice a day; if you have a medium-sized or larger dog, add one-half to three-quarters of a clove to your pup’s food twice a day. Please note that if your dog is on any kind of blood thinning medication or cyclosporine, don’t use garlic.
7. Black Seed Oil
Also known as black cumin seed, this powerful plant is used to cure all kinds of ailments, and has been shown in clinical tests to treat a wide variety of infections, bacteria, viruses, and superbugs. Black seed oil is a derivative of black cumin seed, and it can be added to your dog’s food to get rid of most species of parasitic worms, with no side effects. For smaller dogs, add about a quarter of a teaspoon to your pup’s food; for larger dogs, go for one-half of a teaspoon. Mix it in well, because black seed oil does have a very noticeable aftertaste.
8. A Generally Healthy Diet
Dogs that are fed a diet that is high in processed foods are typically more susceptible to suffering from parasite infestations, because their intestinal tract provides a more amicable environment for worms when it’s loaded with these kinds of foods. Giving your dog raw veggies such as grated carrots, papaya, fennel, and shredded coconut can make your pup’s intestinal tract a much less welcoming environment for parasites. Generally speaking, you can’t go wrong with feeding your dog a diet that is rich in natural organic foods!
Alright, there you have it – a solid list of various natural remedies to help prevent and treat worms in dogs. Keep these items in mind to help get rid of those nasty little creatures, so that your dog can be parasite-free!