It’s a natural dog owner’s dilemma: you don’t want your dog to have worms, but you don’t want to give them the toxic chemicals used to deworm a dog at a conventional vet. If you found this article, you’re probably wondering if there are natural ways to deworm a dog.
The answer is YES! There are home remedies for worms in dogs that not only get rid of the worms, but also provide additional health benefits for your dog.
Can Worms Harm My Dog?
Absolutely. But – so can the harsh chemicals that conventional dewormers contain. It’s a bit of a catch-22.
Depending on the worm and level of infestation, your dog can become very sick. In extreme cases, a dog can either develop an intestinal blockage or become so weak and emaciated that death can result.
You need to get rid of worms if your dog has them and prevent them from getting worms again, and the fewer chemicals you use, the better.
Symptoms of Worms in Dogs
Many people ask “How do I know if my dog has worms?”
The following symptoms can indicate intestinal worms in your dog:
- Blood in the stool
- Hungry all the time, eats a ton but doesn’t gain weight, or losing weight
- Bloated stomach
- Anemia (gums become pale white)
- Biting/scratching at base of tail, scooting their butt across the grass (or worse yet, the carpet)
- Little rice-like white pieces on your dog’s poop or in fur around anus
- Dull coat or loss of fur
Types of Worms in Dogs
I debated listing the types of worms, because let’s face it – it’s gross and it gives many of us the heebies.
But I decided knowledge is power, even if it’s knowledge that totally grosses you out. So here you are:
Hookworms literally hook themselves to the wall of the intestine, then feed off of your dog’s blood. They are contracted from contact with soil that contains the hookworm larvae. The larvae can burrow through paw pads or skin when the dog lies on the ground, or be ingested by a dog that grooms itself after contact with contaminated soil. Nursing puppies can contract hookworm from their mother’s milk.
Hookworms can travel to the lungs and cause coughing as well.
Roundworms are the most common intestinal worms in dogs. They look like spaghetti noodles and live in the intestine, absorbing food and therefore depriving your dog of nutrients it needs to grow and be healthy. Dogs get roundworms from eating roundworm larvae in contaminated soil or infected prey such as mice.
Puppies can contract roundworm before being born if the mother has them, and after being born can ingest larvae in their mother’s milk when they nurse.
Roundworms eventually travel to a dog’s liver and lungs; once in the lungs they can cause coughing.
One end of the whipworm’s body is large, the other end tapers to a narrow head, its shape resembling a whip – thus the name whipworm.
Dogs contract whipworms from ingesting their eggs. The eggs live in soil, and typically are ingested after the dog stands or lies down on the soil and then grooms itself. After hatching in the small intestine, the larvae move to the large intestine where they bite the intestinal wall and embed their head inside, feeding on the dog’s blood.
Eggs are shed in the dog’s stool and can survive in the soil for years. Yuck.
I find tapeworm to be the grossest of them all. They are long and flat, and about 6 inches long – but their body is made up of multiple segments that grow onto the worm’s head and neck. Each segment is like a flat grain of rice.
Your dog can get tapeworms by licking infected fleas off its body, eating meat of an infected animal (rabbits, deer, cattle, and more), or eating the poop of an infected animal. My dogs put bunny poop in the same category as milk-duds and snap into “search and find” mode when they catch a whiff, meaning I have to be on constant bunny-poop-eating alert.
Once the eggs are ingested, they hatch and attach themselves to the small intestine of your dog. They don’t show up in a traditional fecal float but instead are visually observed on the outside of your dog’s poop or on the dog’s fur around the anus.
Not to send you over the brink, but this visual is true. Imagine seeing a piece of “rice” when picking up your dog’s poop and if you watch it closely, it MOVES. I obviously have seen this enough times to need therapy.
Top Natural Ways to Deworm a Dog
Important Disclaimer: I am not a vet. Not even close. My degree is in marketing. Sooooo, do not take any of my ramblings below as medical advice. I’m just sharing my own personal experience and information I have read. If you think you want to try something you read about here, talk to your vet! But first read this and many more articles to empower yourself for a good discussion in which you can ask your vet great questions about what you want to try.
When I started writing this article, I thought the majority of the natural remedies for worms in dogs were more in the category of preventing worms vs. eliminating them. The more I researched, however, the more home remedies I found that effectively eliminated worms in clinical studies.
If you are using a natural remedy, you still need to read carefully about potential side effects and possible harm from giving your dog too much. That’s just common sense.
Don’t avoid a natural remedy just because giving too much can be harmful, though. That was my gut reaction at first, and then it occurred to me that giving too much of any conventional deworming chemical is extremely dangerous for your dog. Heck, even giving the correct dose of conventional deworming chemicals can cause some nasty issues in certain dogs.
Holistic approaches, when administered correctly, reduce (and many times eliminate) risk of harmful side effects. Some have been shown in studies to be equally effective as conventional chemical-based treatments.
OK, enough food for thought!
Home Remedies for Worms in Dogs
**note: this post contains affiliate links. No one paid me to recommend these products, I recommend them because I like them. However, using the link to buy the products helps support happynaturaldog.com**
There are many natural ways to deworm a dog; here is a rundown of the most impressive ones I found.
Pumpkins seeds are hailed as one of the safest and most effective ways to deworm your dog. They are known for their ability to get rid of worms, but also provide numerous health benefits for your dog such as boosting their immune system.
One of the hardest intestinal worms to get rid of using natural dewormers is tapeworm. Some natural worm remedies for dogs work by scraping the walls of the intestine, thus dislodging worms so they pass out of the body.
When a dog has a tapeworm infestation, however, the head of the tapeworm attaches to (actually embeds itself in) the intestinal wall.
When you use some of the home remedies below to deworm your dog, sometimes you get rid of the tapeworm body pieces but the head stays embedded in the intestinal wall and then regenerates itself.
Pumpkins seeds are a different story. A 2012 tapeworm study found that when pumpkin seeds were given to human subjects with tapeworm, 75% of subjects expelled whole tapeworms. An amino acid in pumpkin seeds, cucurbitacin, paralyzes the worms and causes them to lose their grip on the intestinal wall and thus get expelled from the body.
In addition to cucurbitacin’s paralyzing effect, by grinding up the pumpkin seeds they also scrape other worms away from the intestinal wall and out of the body. Use 1 teaspoon of ground raw (NOT salted!) seeds per 10 lbs of body weight 2x/day.
I grind mine in a Cuisinart, you could also use a blender. DO NOT use a coffee grinder – coffee is poisonous to dogs and you can’t ensure some leftover coffee grounds won’t get transferred from your grinder into your seed mixture.
Worst case a hammer and a zip lock bag can do wonders.
Or, you can buy them ground up and ready to go.
Black Seed (or Black Seed Oil)
Black seed, or black seed oil, comes from the black cumin seed. It has been used for centuries – black seed oil was even found in King Tut’s tomb! In Egypt it was referred to as the “panacea” because it cured so many conditions, from allergies to bronchitis to rheumatism.
One plus of black seed it that it is totally safe for dogs, and gets rid of most types of worms. I spent waaayyy too much time searching and reading and did not find a documented worm list, but I did find a mention of tapeworm, which can be one of the harder ones to get rid of.
Black seed works against all stages of intestinal parasites. It reduces the female’s ability to lay eggs and damages the “suckers” in worms that attach to the intestinal wall so they are unable to attach. It also damages the adult worm, making them more susceptible to the dog’s immune system.
Suggested dosage is ½-1 teaspoon of black seed, sprinkled in your dog’s food once a day. Heat the seeds first to get rid of their bitter taste. If you use black seed oil, use half that dose.
Wormwood is one of the natural dewormers you have to be careful with – if you give it to your dog for too long, or give too high a dose, it could be harmful.
The FDA states it is unsafe for internal use. Because it can stress the kidneys and liver, it should not be used on dogs who have kidney problems, seizures, or liver disease – and also should not be used on pregnant or nursing dogs.
So – make sure you are working with your vet if you choose to give wormwood, and also that you ask your vet about giving a liver support at the same time to protect the liver.
That said, wormwood is a very popular and effective dewormer, known for its effectiveness in weakening and killing all types of worms, even tapeworms.
Garlic is extremely effective as a dewormer. You need to administer the correct dose (best to work with your holistic veterinarian) because if you overdose your dog it can be toxic. Also, you don’t want to give your dog garlic if they are taking blood thinners or cyclosporine.
Don’t rule garlic out because of the above concerns – you need to remember that conventional deworming chemicals are toxic, period. Garlic, if used correctly, is not. So still a win, you just need to do your homework.
One deworming study compared garlic’s deworming effectiveness to the toxic chemical Ivermectin and garlic was more effective(!), while another deworming study showed that garlic killed all worms in 6 hours.
An amino acid contained in garlic, allicin, is primarily responsible for its deworming properties. Allicin is released when garlic is chopped or crushed. The volatile oils and sulfur compounds in garlic also help eliminate worms from your dog’s body.
If you’re going to use garlic, use fresh garlic cloves; garlic powder won’t have the same properties. Chop or press the appropriate amount, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes for the beneficial allicin to be released.
Dr. Richard Pitcairn, author of The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, recommends the following daily amounts of fresh garlic for dogs:
- 10 to 15 pounds – half a clove
- 20 to 40 pounds – 1 clove
- 45 to 70 pounds – 2 cloves
- 75 to 90 pounds – 2 1/2 cloves
- 100 pounds and over – 3 cloves
Cloves have been used medicinally since ancient times. A scholarly review of clove’s medicinal properties highlights an impressive list that includes not only intestinal parasites like roundworms, giardia, coccidia, and tapeworms, but other ailments from toothaches to asthma to malaria.
Caution: DO NOT give cloves to pregnant, or possibly pregnant, females as cloves can stimulate the uterus and cause a miscarriage. Like garlic, if you give your dogs too many cloves it can be dangerous, so this is another remedy to talk to your holistic vet about before administering.
One website mentioned giving one clove with each meal for large dogs (1/2 clove for small dogs) and do one week on one week off for 2 months. Other websites mentioned higher doses, so that in itself makes me want to have a holistic vet OK the dosage before using cloves.
Dried Coconut & Coconut Oil
When I read about dried coconut, it involved feeding dried coconut followed by a laxative. Apparently there was a study done using this method that documented 90% parasite expulsion after 2 hours. This “study” is cited in article after article, but I’ll be darned if any of them gave a link to the study, and after an hour of trying to find it on Google I gave up. I think it most likely has merit, I just don’t like to cite specific results without a source.
Dosage for dried coconut is listed as 1 teaspoon for small dogs, 2 teaspoons for medium dogs, and 1 tablespoon for large dogs.
Coconut oil can also be used to eliminate worms. Your dog’s body will convert the lauric acid in coconut oil to monolaurin, which is known to be effective against tapeworm, giardia, and other parasites. For coconut oil, work up gradually to 1 teaspoon/day per 10 lbs body weight.
Food grade Diatomaceous Earth
This was interesting to read about. I’ve used diatomaceous earth sprinkled into the grass in my backyard to kill chiggers (so they stop climbing on me and making me itch insanely for days on end), but hadn’t read about using it as a natural remedy for worms in dogs.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is made from the remains of one-celled plants called diatoms, crushed into a fine powder. It is non-toxic, deadly to any insect that comes into contact with it, yet totally harmless to animals.
In addition to deworming, it can build/boost the immune system, detox heavy metals out of the blood, and give your dog a soft, shiny coat.
The disadvantage is that some sources claim it only kills tapeworm body segments, not the imbedded head, and also that you need to continue giving it for a minimum of 60 days.
Make sure you use FOOD GRADE, diatomaceous earth. The other grades (such as pool grade) could harm your dog.
Dogs Naturally Magazine recommends the following dosages:
- 1/2 tsp for puppies and small dogs
- 1 tsp for dogs under 50 lbs
- 1 tbsp for dogs over 50 lbs
- 2 tbsp for dogs over 100 lbs
Be sure to mix it into the dog’s food because inhaling diatomaceous earth can irritate your dog’s lungs.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Adding ¼ – 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to your dog’s food every day can be beneficial in many ways, one of which is preventing and possibly eliminating worms.
ACV creates higher alkaline levels in the dog’s intestines making them inhospitable for worms. It also coats the worms, weakening them until they lose their grip on the intestinal wall.
In addition, apple cider vinegar offers 9 surprising health benefits for dogs.
Carrots, even ground up ones, cannot be digested by dogs. What this means is they are a nice mass of coarse fiber that moves through the dog’s intestines.
As they travel through the intestines they gently scrape against the intestinal lining and carry the worms out of the body.
Natural Ways to Deworm a Dog CAN Work!
Using home remedies for worms in dogs is a great way to avoid giving them toxic chemicals.
If you aren’t sure if your dog has worms, you can find out by taking a stool sample to your vet. And, if you’re like me, you may choose to add one of the remedies listed above to your dog’s daily diet to expel any worms that are present and prevent future infestations.
If you treat your dog for worms, remember to take a follow up stool sample to the vet 2-3 weeks after the worm treatment is complete to confirm they are gone.
Have you tried any home remedies for worms in dogs? Comment below and let us know what worked for you (and what didn’t) so we can all benefit from your experience.
Until next week . . .