Dog Breeding Trade Secret #8

  • Have a feeling your wormer gives the puppies more noticeable illness after treatment?

  • Looking for the best and easiest routine to treat mums and pups?

I learned about the alternative approach to deworming dogs after attending Crufts nearly ten years ago. I had an enlightening conversation with a laboratory technician who processes faecal egg counts. This approach has been commonly used by the agricultural community for decades and is now being promoted and embraced as a holistic approach to managing our canine companion's health too.

Without further ado, let's look at worming routines commonly adopted during pregnancy and nursing and why it's such essential information to know when breeding dogs.

Types of worms

Canine ‘worms’ refer to various types of parasitic worms that can infect dogs. These worms can reside in different parts of the dog's body, including the intestines, heart, lungs, and other organs. Common types of canine worms include:

  • Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasites in dogs. They resemble spaghetti and can grow several inches long. Puppies can acquire roundworms from their mother during nursing or through ingestion of contaminated soil or faeces.
  • Hookworms are small, thread-like worms that attach to the dog's intestinal lining and feed on blood. They can cause anaemia, weight loss, and diarrhoea. Dogs can acquire hookworms through ingestion or skin contact with contaminated soil or through larvae penetrating the skin.
  • Whipworms are small, thin worms that reside in the large intestine. They can cause chronic diarrhoea, weight loss, and anaemia. Dogs become infected by ingesting whipworm eggs present in contaminated soil or faeces.
  • Tapeworms are flat, segmented worms that attach to the dog's intestinal wall. They can grow several inches long and release egg-filled segments that resemble grains of rice in the dog's faeces. Dogs can acquire tapeworms by ingesting intermediate hosts, such as fleas or small animals, or by ingesting contaminated food or water.
  • Heartworms are transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. They reside in the heart and blood vessels, causing severe damage and potentially leading to heart failure. Heartworm disease can be life-threatening for dogs and requires specialised treatment.
  • Lungworm, unlike other intestinal worms, travel around a dog's body and can damage a dog's lungs and other major organs - causing fatal consequences if left untreated. Lungworm larvae live in snails, slugs and faeces from infected dogs or foxes.

These are just a few examples of the many types of worms that can affect dogs. Each type of worm has its own life cycle, mode of transmission, and potential health consequences. Regular worming, or routine faecal examinations can help identify and treat worm infestations in dogs, to promote their overall health and well-being.

Why pregnant dogs should be wormed

Worm infestations can weaken a dog's immune system and cause various health problems. By worming a pregnant dog, you help ensure her overall well-being during this critical period. A healthier mother is more likely to have a successful pregnancy and provide better care for her puppies.

Deworming a pregnant dog is important to prevent the transmission to puppies. Intestinal parasites can be transmitted particularly easily from a Dam to her puppies, both during pregnancy and through nursing. By worming the pregnant dog, you can help reduce the risk of passing parasites to the developing puppies. This helps create a healthier environment for the puppies and reduces the likelihood of them experiencing poor health and condition due to worm-related issues.

Some intestinal parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms, can also infect humans (referred to as zoonotic infections). Pregnant dogs that are infested with these parasites have the potential to transmit them to humans through direct contact with contaminated faeces or contaminated environments. Worming the pregnant dog helps reduce the risk of zoonotic transmission and ensures a safer environment for both the dog and the people around her.

When should I worm the Dam?

It is generally recommended to worm the female dog before breeding to ensure she is free from any intestinal parasites that could be transmitted to the puppies. This helps provide a healthier environment for the developing puppies.

Some breeders also follow-up the worming after 42 days pregnancy to help address any potential reinfestation or to target parasites that may not have been fully eliminated in earlier worming treatments.

However, the exact timing and frequency of worming for pregnant dogs may vary based on factors such as the dog's health, history, and the specific recommendations of your veterinarian as not all wormers are safe during pregnancy.

Puppy Worming Protocol

Regular worming, not only protects the puppies but helps prevent the spread of infection and hazardous health risks to other animals and you. Puppies can appear healthy even when they have worm infections. Signs often include always being hungry but not gaining weight, a dull coat, a 'pot-belly' bloated stomach appearance, and 'scooting' due to irritated bottom or diarrhoea. You may even see worms being passed in their stools or vomit if left untreated. Dead worms may be passed in the stools once treatment has been administered.

Drontal and Panacur Paste are typically used to treat worms. Drontal is a one-day treatment, while Panacur is a more comprehensive three-day treatment. Panacur is a broader spectrum treatment which also treats Giardia, another parasitic intestinal infection that generally causes diarrhoea.

Worming is part of the essential routine of rearing puppies. Vets will generally advise worming at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks. Many breeders have chosen to worm later or less at 3, 5, 7 & 9 or 3, 6 & 9 weeks. This is typically because weaning has commenced and the stomach has a better contents to handle the worming medication.

Slippery Elm Powder

Worming can cause the puppies to have an upset stomach resulting in loose stools. Slippery elm is a tree bark powder that can be given to aid colic, diarrhoea, constipation, and irritable bowels. It is safe to use on pregnant and nursing dams but also weaned puppies. Slippery Elm powder added to the food helps coat and protects the digestive tract (including the stomach and intestines) helping to alleviate gastrointestinal issues.

Natural Slippery Elm from the Canine Nutrition Coach (CNC) who is the Feeding, Breeding and Wellness Expert. 

Worming Alternatives

Worming is a proactive approach that can rapidly reduce the parasite burden and provide immediate relief. It is suitable for routine preventive care and preferred by most vets.

Worm counting is a diagnostic method that involves a laboratory examining a dog's stool sample under a microscope to identify and quantify parasite eggs or larvae. It helps to detect the presence of parasites and determine the appropriate treatment or monitoring plan.

Stool worm counting is particularly useful in situations where a dog has ongoing gastrointestinal symptoms, an unknown health history, or a suspected resistance to certain worming medications.

If you aren't keen on indiscriminately worming then I highly recommend worm counting first, this detailed report will provide you with key information of your Dam’s and litter worm status and if any action need to be taken.

In many cases, a combination of both approaches can be considered. Worming and stool worm counting are complementary approaches to managing intestinal parasites in dogs. The choice between the two methods depends on the specific circumstances and goals of the dog's healthcare.

It's important to note that natural substances deemed to have possible worming properties such as pumpkin seeds, garlic, diatomaceous earth and herbs like wormwood and black walnut, may not be as reliable or effective in completely eliminating worms, especially in severe infestations.

Need more advice?

Remember that the specific needs of a pregnant or lactating dog may vary based on factors such as the dog's size, breed, overall health, and individual requirements.

If you want more support and advice during your breeding journey, join the Canine Family Planner's Very Important Breeder Winner's Circle membership. Dog owners in the VIB's Winner Circle are a tight-knit community of like-minded breeders who desire access to world-class resources within a private and safe environment. It's the only place you can access me and my 23 years of experience, covering every aspect of dog breeding, pregnancies, and puppy rearing.

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