Alternatives to chemical worming – prevention and support with herbal remedies.

Like many, I started to use alternative methods of worm control because of my fears that controlling internal worms by use of poisons was not good for my dogs, and in any event unlikely to be successful because of the worm life cycle.

This has led me to consider the use of herbal supplements as part of my animal management system.

Parasites and hosts have co-existed since life began, and as such a healthy dog will have a natural ability to control the internal population of worms. There will be occasions when chemical intervention is necessary but there are many things you can do to support your dog’s own natural immunity.

I believe in the use of herbal supplements to support this natural function. What is our role

1. Firstly to not overreact. As owners we are sold the idea that good ownership means regular chemical worming. This is self-serving BS. My personal belief is that introducing poisons to our dogs to control internal parasites does carry risks – see the recent concerns raised in USA by the FDA in respect of commonly used flea treatment drugs.

2. As well as unknown longer term, side effects, the use of chemicals destabilises the natural immunity, so consider how this can be built up after a treatment.

3. I also feel that whilst a chemical wormer will kill worms in the digestive system - remember that in the UK there are 4 more common worm types and these each respond to different chemical treatments - there is no one size fits all here!

4. Most importantly, as owners we must be aware of the life cycle of worms. This is egg, larvae, adult.A chemical treatment will not prevent re infestation. This cycle is around 30 days, and so if you wanted to rely on chemical treatments you would need to do this very frequently.

My strategy for control is

Effective environmental control. Worms will infect your dog from faeces. So your dogs exposure to this must be controlled.

1. keep garden areas clean and remove faeces frequently

2. Keep your lawn cut short

3. Control rodents and other animals that might defacate in your garden

4. Do not let your dog hunt/roam

5. Always pick up dog poops

6. Always wash your hands after spending time outdoors, and never let your kids play in areas that are soiled with pet or other animal faeces.

7. Always clean your pet’s living area at least weekly.

Nutritional Support

1. Keep your dog healthy and fit through regular exercise and ideally a natural diet

2. Use herbal supplements to support natural immunity.

In another blog I will list all those that I am aware of that are used. Suffice to say I am a believer in Doghealth “ Four Seasons “ herbal wormer containing Hibiscus, Thyme, Ginger Root, Cloves, ,Organic Bitter Apple.

Regular monitoring

1. Insist on a worm count with your dogs annual check up at the vets ( or use some of the online remote worm count services)

2. Inspect faeces regularly for signs of worms

3. Often you will be able to tell if your dog or cat has worms by the symptoms they are exhibiting. Most worm infestations cause any or all of these symptoms:

4. Symptoms include

• Weight loss accompanied by a marked increase or decrease in appetite

• Distended abdomen, or ‘pot-bellied’ appearance

• Lethargy

• Vomiting

• Diarrhoea/chronic soft stools

• Chronic coughing

• Dulling of coat and/or hair loss accompanied by skin irritation/inflammation

• Rubbing or dragging the hindquarters across the ground

• Visible presence of segments of tapeworms in dogs attached to the skin and fur around the anus/hind quarters area

• Visible presence of roundworms in dogs in infected stool, like tiny grains of rice.

And finally, a few words on Puppies

Whilst their immune systems develop, I do use chemical wormers supported by herbal supplements Worming puppies repeatedly is a key part of their care. Puppies need to be given a worm dose every two weeks between four weeks and twelve weeks of age, because their immature immune system means that a single worm dose is not enough to eradicate the worms that they have picked up from their mother.