On Worms and Worming

These days cancer is a huge word, and for most people, it is a reality they think about over their lifetimes. So, what does that have to do with worms and worming? It is well aklowledged that in the case of breast cancer that there is a gene that makes the chances of getting cancer very high, and some people choose to have their breast/s removed to give them the best chance to live a healthy life. However the average person doesn’t take anti-cancer drugs or have regular chemotherapy just in case they develop cancer. If you apply this principal to worming, it brings in to question the practice of worming dogs every 3 months (on average).

It can be difficult to diagnose worms in dogs because they live inside the body. There are symptoms to look out for:

  • Weight loss despite eating usually or more than normal
  • Itching around the anus or tail area
  • Scooting along on the bum
  • Poor looking coat and eyes
  • A pot belly appearance
  • Diarrhoea
  • Coughing (lungworms)
  • Vomitting
  • Visible thread-like things in faeces

Vets recommend that we worm dogs about every 3 months to prevent infestation. However, if you look on the packets, the indications are for active infestations. I have talked to vets and nutritionists who believe that it isn’t appropriate or healthy to worm dogs “just in case”. It would be like taking a paracetamol in the morning just in case you get a headache that day. This does not mean, however, that you shouldn’t worm your dog. In my research I came across wormcount.com. They send you a kit, and you send a sample of your dogs faeces to them. They then give you a report about the amount and type of worms, if any, that the dog has. If this shows an infestation, then it would be advisable to treat with a high quality medicine, or alternative natural method. If the report shows the dog has no worms, then it is not necessary to give your dog a tablet full of chemicals for no reason.

Some may argue that prevention is better than cure, and that it is better than the dogs getting worms. To this, I say that while prevention is important, it is also important to be mindful of what you are giving your dog and the reasons that you give it. I am hesitant to give my dog medications that may or may not cause unwanted side effects. Administering regular wormers is much more likely to create medication-resistant worms, and you are giving highly potent chemicals without knowing whether the dog needs them or not.

If you are looking for an alternative to the traditional method of worming, it is advisable to get in touch with a holistic vet. A healthy, balanced diet, such as a raw food diet, gives the dog a stronger immune system to avoid parasitic infestations. If you already feed a home-prepared diet, then you can think about adding raw pumpkin seeds (crushed) and garlic (in small amounts) to the diet as these deter worms from breeding. DE (Diatomaceous Earth) can also be used, as long as it is food grade. The supplier should be able to tell you the dosage information. Bear in mind that inhalation of DE can be dangerous. Chamomile and pineapple can also be effective in preventing and eliminating roundworms and whipworms.

I am not telling you that you shouldn’t deworm your dogs, it is simply something to think about, and get researching about. The more informed you are, the more you can make appropriate and healthy decisions on behalf of your dog.

If you want more information on holistic treatments or worming, these links may be helpful:

Are we lungworm aware or lungworm advertising aware? by Nick Thompson, holistic vet

Herbal options for your dog’s worms

Books on herbal medicine

Food grade DE, facts and information