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Deworming your Pet

When should we deworm?

Puppies can acquire roundworms and hookworms even before they are born - while still being in their mother's womb. Of course, the hygiene (or lack thereof) in the area in which the puppy is born and lives generally leaves much to be desired. Consequently, I advise that dewormings should take place as early as three weeks of age.

So, let's not fool around. Dewormings at an early age against round and hookworms is a must. Three weeks later, when the puppy is six weeks of age and ready for its first set of vaccinations, the puppy should receive its second deworming.

Adult dogs do not need treatment against roundworms and hookworms too often. As I said last week, the adult canine is pretty much resistant against roundworms and hookworms, even though in times of stress these worms (especially hookworms) can act up and make your dog sick. I would suggest either routinely deworming your adult dogs every three months, or have the stool samples examined by your veterinarian / laboratory and then deworm accordingly.

In the case of the adult female dog that is being kept for breeding purposes, one should deworm her just before mating. Three weeks later one may deworm her again. In this way, you can reduce the worm burden to the puppies while they are still in the womb.

Which dewormers to use?

One has to be careful as to which dewormers one uses. Many anthelminthics (dewormers) have been around since Noah was a boy. Their efficiency ratings are surely less than the newer dewormers. No self-respecting worm will die from these old and overused chemicals.

Then one must bear in mind that some dewormers (vermicides) actually kill the adult worms that are in the intestine, while others (vermifuges) merely flush them out. Neither, of course, kill the larval (immature) stages of the worms, and none will destroy the worms' eggs.

Really, no one dewormer will remove all types of worms - regardless of the manufacturers' claims. On the market are the popular Thiabendazole derivatives.

These are good but one has to use them for three consecutive days. The Organophosphate based dewormers are broad spectrum, but could be dangerous (dosage and health status considerations). Also, if used together with another Organophosphate based anti-tick/anti-flea medication, the two together could create toxic conditions and even kill the pet. Moreover, one cannot use this type of dewormer if the dog has heartworms (this means that the dog's blood must first be tested). Ketrax and Piperazine have been around for a very long time. Most veterinarians now use Pyrantel Pamoate, but one needs to get the dosage right. None of these dewormers are potent against the types of tapeworm which usually infest our dogs and cats.

Actually, one might need to switch dewormers ever so often. The continuous usage of one chemical will result in a resistance build-up by the worms.

The issue of the deworming of our pets is not as straightforward as many people think.

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