Dog worms … a nightmare of miniature proportions. If you have dogs, you’ve probably had to deal with worms at some point in your life. Not only are they gross, they can be harmful for your dog and so you need to get rid of them as fast as possible. The thing is, you’re going to want to do this without those conventional deworming drugs since they can be very harsh. They also come with some nasty side effects.
Luckily, it turns out one of the safest and most effective ways to treat worms in dogs is with everyday foods. We asked holistic veterinarian Patricia Jordan DVM about her favorite foods to get rid of dog worms naturally. You probably already have some of them at home.
But first you need to know what type of worms you’re dealing with!
Common Dog Worms
These are the most common types of worms dogs get. Humans can also get roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms.
You can see roundworms in your dog’s poop. They’ll look a lot like spaghetti. Your dog may look pot-bellied and he may feel lethargic. Sometimes roundworms can cause diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and weight loss. Roundworms live in the small intestine. Your dog can pick up the microscopic eggs from the environment or by eating infected animals like birds or rodents.
Whole tapeworms are flat and about 6 inches long. Usually you’ll see the broken-off segments looking like grains of rice in your dog’s poop. Tapeworms live in the intestines. Your dog can get them by licking fleas off his body or eating meat from animals like rabbits, sheep, goats, cattle, pigs or deer that might have tapeworms. If your dog has fleas, watch out for tapeworms in his stool.
You can’t see the other types of worms with the naked eye, so if you suspect them in your dog, you’ll need to get a fecal analysis to confirm them.
Hookworms are about 1/8 to ¾ inch long and have a hook that attaches to the intestinal lining. They suck blood and can cause anemia in your dog, so are especially dangerous for small puppies. Your dog can pick up hookworm larvae from the soil, through his mouth or through the skin on his pads.
Diarrhea and vomiting are the usual signs of hookworms in your dog. Symptoms of anemia are weakness, lethargy or pale gums.
Whipworms are about 2 inches long and tapered at one end, like a whip. They attach to the mucous membranes in the cecum and colon and feed on your dog’s blood. You won’t be able to see them, unless your dog passes them in a clump in his stool. Signs of whipworms include diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss. Your dog can pick up whipworms by swallowing the eggs in soil, water or other places that may contain dog feces.
Full Moon For Fecal Tests
If you need to get a fecal test to confirm a diagnosis of worms, Dr Jordan says the best time to test is during a full moon. This is when parasites shed their eggs the most.
13 Foods To Eliminate Dog Worms
Starting out with a healthy diet helps build a strong immune system. A whole foods, raw meat based diet is the best option to help keep your dog worm-free. Kibble-fed dogs are much more susceptible to worms than raw fed dogs because parasites love the starch and sugars in kibble.
But whatever you’re feeding, there are many foods you can use to help eliminate all types of worms in your dog. And some of the best ones to add are fermented foods. All fermented foods have probiotic properties and can also be used to help prevent and eliminate worms.
Start slowly with all these foods if your dog’s not used to eating veggies or fruit, and work up to the recommended dose.
Fermented foods are some of the best ways to build a healthy digestive system. That helps eliminate worms by boosting your dog’s immune system. 80% of the immune system is based in the gut.
The safest way to treat worms is with fermented vegetables. You can buy fermented veggies like sauerkraut or kimchi, or make your own fermented veggies. There are many recipes online; here’s a site with lots of information on fermented foods.
Start slowly with fermented veggies and work up to 1 to 3 tsp per day per 20 lbs of body weight.
This is another great fermented food for dogs. Non-dairy is best for dogs, so use coconut kefir, or choose raw goat milk kefir. Make your own or buy at grocery and health food stores.
Give small dogs 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp per day, medium dogs 1 to 2 Tbsp per day, large dogs 2 to 3 Tbsp per day. Add to food or serve as a separate treat or snack.
Want more information on Kefir for your dog? [Click here to check out a great post]
Other Vegetables and Fruit
Vegetable matter helps to treat worms (Dr Jordan jokes that healthy vegetables seem to scare the parasites!) and the fiber helps to move out the worms.
All these foods are easy to get and are everyday foods you can safely use.
3. Pumpkin seeds
- One of the safest and most effective ways to treat worms
- Grind seeds and give ¼ tsp per 10 lbs of weight
Pumpkin seeds are great for your dog. [Click here to find out more]
4. Grated carrots, watercress, greens, squash, fennel
- Any of these veggies added to food can help get rid of worms
- 1 tsp per 10 lbs of body weight per day
- Add grated or chopped cucumber to food, or use fresh carrot, beet, and cucumber juices mixed into food
For the following fruits, give 1 tsp per 10 lbs of your dog’s body weight per day. You can add to your dog’s food or give as a separate snack, maybe with some kefir or yogurt.
6. Pineapple (including the stems)
- Full of bromelain, an enzyme that digests proteins
- Contains papain, another enzyme that can help combat worms.
- Useful in treating tapeworms
Overall, you can give fruit and veggies up to about 20% of your dog’s diet. If your dog’s not used to eating produce, start gradually to avoid digestive upset.
Other Pantry Items To Treat Worms
Beyond fruits and veggies, there are other pantry items that can help get rid of your dog’s worms.
- Garlic is safe to give your dog in moderate amounts
- Use 1 clove or 1 tsp of chopped raw organic garlic per per 30 lbs of body weight per day
Isn’t garlic bad for dogs? No, it’s actually really good! [Check out this great article for more]
10. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
- Use raw, organic, unfiltered vinegar
- ¼ to 1 tsp per day in your dog’s water or food creates a more alkaline digestive system that’s less attractive to parasites
11. Coconut oil (use organic, virgin coconut oil)
- This is especially helpful to eliminate roundworms, which tend to clump together in the intestines and cause an obstruction
- Start gradually and work up to 1 tsp per day per 10 lbs of body weight
- Cook fresh parsley down and strain out the solids, then freeze it into ice cubes
- Give one cube daily
13. Bone Broth
- If you’re up for a little easy cooking, bone broth helps promote overall digestive health, supporting the immune system in eliminating worms
- Especially effective around the full moon
- Add some aloe juice for an extra boost
- Add a few tablespoons to your dog’s food or feed as a separate snack
Food is the best place to start treating your dog for worms. These foods are all gentle, natural ways to help your dog eliminate intestinal worms – and they’re a whole lot safer than giving your dog conventional deworming drugs.
Note: Food alone may not get rid of every worm infestation and in more stubborn cases you may need to ask your holistic vet for herbal or homeopathic options as well. Some herbal options are included in this article, or find holistic vets at ahvma.org and homeopathic vets at theavh.org.