While it’s not uncommon for dogs and cats to deal with intestinal parasites, especially at a young age, it’s important to be proactive in preventing them from becoming a problem to begin with. The answers to the questions of how often to deworm a kitten and when to give puppy dewormer starts with following a recommended kitten and puppy deworming schedule.
Importance of Deworming Puppies and Kittens
Creating a deworming schedule for puppies and kittens is important for their overall health. Rough hair coats, diarrhea, malnutrition, intestinal obstructions, and anemia are common issues that can be signs of worms and other parasites, but you shouldn’t wait to act until symptoms appear. In this guide, we’ll cover how often to deworm puppies and when to deworm kittens to help keep them protected.
How to Deworm a Puppy or Kitten
Strategically deworming dogs and cats is a practice recommended by the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It generally involves giving your pet medicine orally or via a shot to help kill and prevent internal parasites.
At What Age Do You Deworm Puppies or Kittens?
Worms are more common in puppies and kittens, and they can often be born with roundworms or become infected via milk from mom. When it comes to how often to deworm puppies or kittens, here is the best kitten and puppy worming schedule to follow:
What Age to Deworm Puppies and Kittens:
- Deworm at two, four, six, and eight weeks of age.
- Repeat at 12 and 16 weeks of age.
- Deworm again at six months and one year old.
How Often to Deworm Dogs and Cats (Adults)
The right cat or dog deworming schedule to follow will depend on your pet’s lifestyle and environment. For example, outdoor pets will naturally be exposed to more parasites than those that live indoors only. Stick to these guidelines and adjust as necessary based on your pet’s unique circumstances:
- Dogs: Twice a year for life.
- Inside cats: Once a year for life.
- Outside cats: Adult outdoor cats should be dewormed “strategically” four times a year.
Deworming Newly Acquired Animals
No matter the animal’s history or age, it’s best to be safe and deworm the animal:
- Deworm immediately and repeat two weeks later.
- Follow the adult cat and dog deworming schedule from then on.
Treatment for Worms in Dogs and Cats
We recommend the following medicines for dogs and cats can help treat or prevent worms in your pet:
- Roundworms and Hookworms
- Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms & Tapeworms
- Tapeworm, Roundworm & Hookworms
Deworming Puppies and Kittens: What to Expect
Now that you know the recommended puppy and kitten deworming schedule, you’ll be more prepared to help treat and prevent worms and parasites in your pets. If you ever suspect that your pet has worms or you notice any of the symptoms we mentioned above, be sure to speak with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and suggested next steps.
Puppy Diarrhea After Deworming
Puppies often develop soft stools from deworming. To avoid this, start with a gentle dewormer such as pyrantel pamoate at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age. Starting deworming at two weeks will get ahead of the parasite infestation and help reduce the diarrhea seen with deworming.
Better yet, you can start deworming BEFORE the pups are born by deworming mom. Fenbendazole such as Safeguard Canine Dewormer has been shown to be safe in pregnant and lactating female dogs. Although this is an off-label use (meaning the drug has not been labeled for this protocol), there are studies dating back to the 1980s showing the safety and efficacy of this protocol. Starting on day 42 of pregnancy (21 days before the predicted whelping date) and continuing until the pups are 14 days old, given daily, this protocol will prevent the migration of roundworms through the placentas and hookworms through the mammary glands and into the pups. Doing this, you can prevent puppies from ever having these intestinal parasites. Why wait for the pups to get sick at weaning? Prevention is always the best medicine.
Does a Dewormer Cause Diarrhea in Puppies?
By proactively deworming the puppies, you are less likely for them to develop diarrhea during their early days. Even better, proactively deworm the mom dog during late pregnancy and early lactation to prevent the need to deworm the pups.
Should you find your puppies have diarrhea after deworming, you can use a combination of a probiotic, fiber, and kaolin-pectin to manage this. Avoid the use of antibiotics including metronidazole and Tylan when possible. Overuse of antibiotics will lead to antibiotic resistance in your kennel and your household.
There are several good probiotics on the market. Use the veterinary version of probiotics as the bacterial flora in the dog is different than that of humans. Doc Roy’s GI Synbiotics or Purina Forti-Flora are the preferred probiotic products for efficacy. Adding fiber to the diet can help firm up soft stools. This includes insoluble fiber such as that found in canned pumpkin and squash, high fiber cereals, and psyllium (Metamucil). For very young puppies, mixing baby rice flaked cereal, plain yogurt, and chicken baby food can be a tasty way to improve their stool character.
Kaolin-pectin will also help form stools. Even very young puppies can have this syringed. The human version, KaoPectate is no longer made of Kaolin and pectin – it is now a salicylic acid product that metabolizes into aspirin in the intestinal tract. This should be avoided in young puppies, pregnant females and females nursing their pups.
Be aware that IF you use oral Pepto-Bismol tablets (not recommended), alert your veterinary professionals. These can show up on X-rays as an apparent foreign body. Neither you nor your veterinarian want to find out during a surgery to remove a “foreign body” that it was an innocent dose of medication and not a coin or piece of metal.
Additionally, try to avoid changes in food and water at the same times you are vaccinating and deworming pups. Too many changes can stress the pups, cause diarrhea, and make the pups more likely to contract canine coronavirus and parvovirus. Be thoughtful how you structure your preventive health programs.
You now have the knowledge of when to deworm your puppy so it’s time to shop for kitten and puppy dewormers. While shopping for dewormers, don’t forget to also get some feline or canine health records to keep on hand as a helpful way for recording deworming, immunizations, fecal exams and more.
If you find you have further questions on developing a puppy deworming schedule or are needing help with finding the best dewormer for your puppy or kitten, call our Pet Care Pros at 800.786.4751 and we’ll be happy to help.
Last updated by Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
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Written by: Donald Bramlage, DVM
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.