How to Get Rid of Worms in Dogs

One of the leading reasons why animal lovers adore dogs is because of their affectionate personality and overflowing joy. A dog seems to be unconditionally happy nearly every moment of its life, and thus, brings its owner absolute bliss in return. Our four legged friends are often the source of our own happiness and wellbeing, so when he suddenly becomes ill, it becomes a concern for the whole family.

One of the most prominent infections found in a dog are worms. This is because of the animal’s tendencies to be outside and in the dirt where the species of parasitic worms live.

Therefore it is important for all dog lovers and canine owners to understand such an infection, and more importantly, how to battle the worms in order to keep your pet safe.

Worm Types:

According to Pet Health Network, there are two common categories to be aware of when it comes to the safety your dog, and those are Intestinal Worms and Heart worms.

Intestinal Worms

The first category of worms includes roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Most of these types are "feces-oral transmitted", meaning the parasites are given to dogs through the excrement of other infected animals. An animal with worms will pass eggs out through its digestive tract and into its environment via its feces. Even though the eggs may not be seen, the worm larva can be picked up by a dog if it licks the earth where the excrement was, eats something in proximity to the droppings, or even licks its paw after it has walked over the infected area.

Tapeworms, specifically, are transmitted by eating fleas or rabbit droppings.


The second category of worms is often found in canines, and they are transmitted through bites of mosquitos that have bitten an infected animal previously. The larva of the heartworm lives in the blood, so when an insect takes the fluid from the infected animal, it has the potential to carry the microfilaria with the blood, which can be passed to a healthy dog if it is bitten by the insect.

Signs and Symptoms of Worms:

Both cases of worms, intestinal and heart, are very damaging to a dog’s health and can even become fatal if left untreated. Therefore, it is important to spot the early symptoms of worms in your pet. Thankfully, all parasitic worms are highly treatable and easy to get rid of if found early.

  1. Changes in feces: Roundworm and Hookworm cause both diarrhea and blood in the stool of dogs, so if these patterns become a continuous issue in your pet, he may have a worm problem. Tapeworms themselves are easier to visually spot in a dog’s feces as these worms shed large segments of their bodies through the stool in the hope of reproduction. If you see something that resembles white grains of rice in your dog’s feces, it is likely a tapeworm.
  2. Excessive Vomiting: Intestinal worms throw off a dog’s equilibrium and digestion because the parasites feed off of their host’s nutrients. Infected dogs will vomit frequently since they are not receiving proper nutrition and may also be experiencing digestive discomfort.
  3. Change in Physical Shape: A swollen belly or midsection is a sign of roundworms where as massive weight loss is a sign for hookworms, tapeworms, or whipworms.
  4. Change in Fur Coat: A healthy dog’s coat is lustrous and fibrous. However, if a canine suddenly starts loosing a lot of hair or his coat becomes dull, it may be a sign of intestinal worms. Irritation on the skin is a specific sign of hookworm.
  5. Gum Color Change: The gums of your dog’s mouth can be an effective tool to check for anemia, which is a side affect of intestinal worms because the parasites steal the host’s vital nutrients through the bloodstream. Healthy gums in a dog, just like in a human, are soft pink, but may look pale white when subject to anemia and intestinal worms.
  6. Watch Behavioral Changes: Dogs that suddenly become antsy, agitated, witness abdominal pain, or experience an itchy rump may have a tapeworm. Pets who have a sufficient decrease in energy, and become excessively lethargic, may have hookworms or whipworms.

Tracking heartworms in a dog is a more difficult task, as this parasite often displays no immediate or initial symptoms.

To catch heartworms early, it is important to get your dog’s blood tested by a veterinarian annually. Physical indications, however, may only occur after the heartworms have become a serious concern, and in many cases, is often fatal at this point. Advanced stages of heartworms may show signs of a swollen belly, dull coat, coughing, rapid or labored breathing, or lack of energy.

If your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, your friend may be battling worms. When it comes to the exact diagnosis, always check with your vet.

Home Remedies to Treat Worms:

After discovering that your dog has worms, and more specifically, which type of the vermin, the next important element is discovering how to get rid of them.

The goal of all deworming medications and treatments for intestinal parasites is to attack the worm’s capability to attach to the intestinal wall. The parasites are relatively harmless until they latch on to their host’s body, which is when they become dangerous by stealing nutrients. By weakening the worm, paralyzing their bodies, or disrupting their mucus membranes, the worm will not be able to attach to the intestines and will be forced to leave their host.

Thankfully, many of the intestinal worm species are highly treatable even with home remedies. Here are a few methods to get rid of worms at home with ingredients found in your pantry:

  • Garlic: We all know the power garlic has in both your pasta dish and your breath, but most of us don’t know how healthy the clove can actually be, especially for your dog. Garlic, given in proper moderation, can effectively treat worms because of the strong acids found in the oils. When mixed with fennel, the mixture will not only rid your dog of intestinal worms, but also boost your pet’s immune system. Grate a fresh clove into your canine’s dinner for effective treatment, but be careful to not use too much because the powerful oils can upset your dog’s digestion.
  • Raw Carrots: When it comes to dogs, carrots are not digestible, and this means that when your pet consumes it, the vegetable leaves the body the in same shape it entered. As uncomfortable as that sounds, raw carrots are an effective way to deworm because of their inability to be digested and change shape. When the carrots travel through the digestive system, their coarse form gently scrapes against the intestinal mucus lining where the worms live and force the pests out the body alongside the vegetable masses.
  • Cloves: Cloves are not only an enjoyable aromatic spice, but also a great way to deworm your dog. Cloves have been tested to effectively eliminate parasites in both animals and humans, and the spice is even a key component in many anti-parasitic formulas and medications. For large pets, feed one clove after every meal for a week and then take a week off. Repeat the clove-on / clove-off pattern for two months. For smaller dogs, try the same method but use only half a clove after each meal or one whole clove for every other.
  • Oregon Grape: Oregon grape is an herb that has been proven to effectively eliminate parasites, but also provides many other health benefits such as boosting the immune system and fighting infections. The reason this herb is so effective is because of the antiseptic component called berberine, which protects against fungus, bacteria, and parasites. Purchase Oregon grape in extract form and administer 12 drops for every 20 pounds of dog twice a day.
  • Pumpkin Seeds: Pumpkin seeds were a home remedy for Native American when it came to taking care of parasites in humans, so it only makes sense to share the treatment with our beloved four-legged friends. Pumpkin seed are helpful in getting rid of all intestinal worm types, but is specifically recommended for tapeworms. The amino acid, cucurbitacin, paralyzes the worms, causing them to loose their attachment on the intestinal lining, and thus be expelled from the body.
  • Supplemental Enzymes: Supplemental enzymes have a caustic nature that destroys the worm’s outer coating, which causes them to grow weak and eventually loose their grip on the intestinal wall. Free from the intestinal wall, the worm is then forced out of the dog through its feces. Papayas (containing papain), figs (containing ficin), or apple cider vinegar are all common food items that contain these types of enzymes that are effective against parasites. Drizzle the vinegar over your dog’s dinner, or feed him a tasty fig or papaya treat after the meal to get the enzymes working.

Medical Remedies to Treat Worms:

Unfortunately, most of the "home remedies" for treating worms are only effective against intestinal parasites. Heartworm is both difficult to track and difficult to control without a prescription, so a medical remedy will be needed as prescribed by your veterinarian.

However, some of us still want to know how these scientific miracles work, and thankfully we have found popular medications and how they effectively eliminate both intestinal and heartworm species:

  • Probiotics:
    Probiotics are a healthy bacterial supplement that is beneficial for the intestine and digestive system. They are effective by attacking the outer coating of the worms so that they loose their grip on their host and are forced out of the body. A common probiotic is Acidophilus and is most effective when one capsule is given with every meal.
  • For Roundworms and Hookworms:
    • Pyrantel Pamoate is an "over the counter" drug that helps treat roundworms and hookworms and is safe to use on puppies as young as 4 weeks old.
    • Fenbendazole is a second "over the counter" remedy that also fights against roundworm and hookworm. However, this dose is stronger and is recommended for larger and older dogs.
  • For Tapeworms:
    • Most of these medications are prescribed by a vet and are not readily available at a pet supply store.
    • Such drugs used to fight against tapeworms are Praziquantel and Epsiprantel.
  • For Whipworms:
    • The most commonly used medications are Fenbendazole or Febantel.
    • Fenbendazole will last for 5 days and will need to be repeated after three weeks.
  • For Heartworm:
    To treat Heartworm specifically, a series of medical injections or shots will be needed in order to strengthen and rebuild the heart and surrounding muscles. A licensed veterinarian will be the only source to administer this form of prescription.

Warning: Parasites and worms that are found in your canine can also be spread to humans and other family members if exposed to the infected dog’s fecal matter. Please take precaution when disposing or handling droppings.

When in doubt, it’s always safest to call in a professional opinion, so if you suspect any kind of worm (intestinal or heart), please connect with your veterinarian for advice on treatment and prevention options. Their loving touch and practiced advice will surely turn any sad pup into a happy, healthy dog once again.

We understand the importance of your four-legged companion within your family, so when it comes to their health, we want to ensure the best remedies and advice. Hopefully these answers were helpful, but if you happen to have more questions please contact us at or call us at 1-800-423-8211. We are excited to help!

Special thanks to Pet Health Network for providing the medical information found in this article.

  • Published:
  • Updated: 3/27/2018: 11:22:47 AM ET
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