Deworming Vs. the Use of Heartworm Pills

Deworming Vs. the Use of Heartworm Pills

First, before we can chat about what deworming is versus giving your dog heartworm pills, we need to talk about what the two types of parasites are which your pets might have to fight against!

There are some parasites that your pet might ingest from poking around at an old dead fowl or from getting into something else rather icky and canine-beckoning! These parasites will end up in your pet’s tummy region and will definitely make him feel sick.

However, they can be gotten rid of!

Heartworms are another type of parasite, and they can be far more deadly for your pet, even while being killed with medicine.

Now that we have divided parasites into these two categories, we can jump into how to know if your pet has a parasite problem and also how to treat it.

Parasites in the Gut!

Your pet can acquire a number of different parasites in their roaming about in the great outdoors. Hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms, to name a few. When your pet gets infected by these parasites, he will probably show noticeable symptoms that should notify you that he needs to see a vet. The vet will test for what type of worms your pet may be suffering from and prescribe a medication plan for deworming! There are many good medications on the market that your pet doctor may prescribe in order to help your pet be healthy and happy.

Below is a listing of the different types of parasites your pet might suffer from along with the telltale signs of their existence.


Roundworms are spread through eating feces (poop) or infected animals or can be passed from an infected mother on to her offspring.

If your pet has roundworms, he may show these signs:

  • Pot-belly
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Belly pain
  • Dull coat
  • Weight loss
  • Roundworms in poop or vomit

Your vet will prescribe deworming medication to get rid of these worms


Hookworms can be acquired by a pet by being passed on through the mother, or from when a pet licks up hookworm larvae when grooming himself or sniffing at feces.

Hookworms drink up the blood of their hosts, so if your pet has hookworms he will suffer from the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Malnutrition

Hookworm infection in puppies can cause death, so treatment should be pursued right away if hookworms are found present. Your vet will prescribe a treatment plan of medication for your pet to deworm him!


Pets can acquire tapeworms by licking themselves, swallowing fleas, or through contact with feces!

Tapeworms live on the walls of a creature’s intestines and steal and live off of nutrients from the animal’s body.

If you poor pet suffers from a tapeworm infection he might have these symptoms and signs:

  • Itchiness around the anal area
  • Licking around the anal area
  • Increase in appetite but with not weight gain
  • Weight loss
  • Poor skin condition
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability

To treat and get rid of tapeworms (deworming), your vet will have some options to discuss with you! You can either give your pet a pill medication, or you can have your pet be given a healing injection.


Animals can acquire whipworms through soil and through licking their fur as they try to groom themselves.

Whipworms, like hookworms, live off of the blood of their hosts… Maybe we should call them vampires! They are also very dangerous for pets, like hookworms.

A dog with whipworm may suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Weightloss
  • Dehydration
  • Anemia

Your vet can help get rid of whipworm by way of oral medication!


Ringworms are actually not located in the gut, but we are including them here because they are similar in treatment.

Ringworms are a skin condition that occur when a pet gets infected by contact with a fungus.

When your pet has ringworm he will likely and sadly suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Visibly damaged skin and hair
  • The skin will have circular bald spots that may be somewhat red in the center.
  • If untreated, ringworms can spread all over your pet’s body.
  • Your pet may have what looks like dandruff flakes coming out of his fur.
  • Sometimes, ringworms won’t show any outward signs.  A vet will have to run tests to find out if they exist if this is the case.

If your pet has ringworm, your vet might prescribe an ointment to apply to your pet’s skin, or might prescribe an oral medication.

Ringworm can actually be passed on to humans. Because of this, if your pet gets ringworm, go to the doctor yourself after treating your pet. Also, thoroughly clean the whole house, vacuuming carpets, cleaning all surfaces with a disinfectant, and keep your pet in areas that are easy to clean while he has such an issue!

Heartworm Prevention Pills:

Heartworm is one of the most dangerous types of parasites your pet could acquire. And it should be prevented at all costs.

Mosquitoes are the bugs that carry the heartworm parasite. And an infected mosquito can transfer heartworm to your pet through biting.

Dogs in locations where mosquitoes are common are the ones that are most at risk. If you and your pet live somewhere where it is colder and the climate makes it less likely for there to be mosquito activity, then you don’t need to worry too much about heartworm, but if you live in an area such as North America and Mexico, then you will find that certain areas do have a heavy mosquito problem.

Once an animal has heartworm, you have to take serious measures to get rid of it. And many owners find it safer to give their pet a preventative heartworm pill on a regular basis in order to stave off the issue.

Why is a heartworm infection such a big deal?

  • Heartworm gets into the bloodstream and affects the heart of your pet.
  • Heartworm parasites are very big: they grow to be about a foot long inside the bloodstream of your pet. And when they are killed by anti-heartworm injections, they die off into chunks that can block arteries and cause death to your pet.
  • Once infected, the heartworm treatment can take a long time: usually, your pet will get injected with two or three sets of shots over a period of a few months. Then your vet will test to see if the heartworm is gone. If it is not gone, another series of shots have to happen. While the heartworm is dying off in the body of your pet, you have to keep your pet from engaging in heavy activity like running and other forms of exercise. Because of the chunks of the parasite that break off inside the body of your pet, heavy exercise and blood-pumping will cause your pet to be at higher risk for heart problems because the chunks can block blood flow.

What should I do to prevent heartworm?

  • First, you have to have your pet tested for heartworm. You can’t give your pet preventative medication if he is already infected with heartworm. This can actually cause health complications for your pet to become even more serious if he does indeed have heartworm.
  • After your pet is tested and the results are found to be “negative” (we all hope this to be so!), you can start giving your pet his regular dose of preventative heartworm pills or his semi-annual preventative shot. Confer with your vet to find out how frequently you need to give your pet heartworm pills as the frequency can vary on location and risk of infection!
  • Once a year, at your vet check-up, ask about getting a heartworm test to be on the safe side. Your vet will know if this is a good idea for your pet.
  • Don’t order heartworm pills online from places like PetMeds. Order them through your doctor because they can verify the trustworthiness of the medicine providers.
  • If your pet is a cat, heartworm prevention is even more important than if your pet is a dog. There is no approved method of getting rid of heartworm in cats once a cat gets infected. Prevention is so important because heartworm can be deadly!

. . . 

Now that you know the symptoms of various types of parasites and the difference between deworming your pet from parasites and combating the dangerous infection of heartworms, we hope you feel more knowledgeable as a Pet Parent!

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Shallowford Animal Hospital and The Pet Spa at Shallowford are dedicated to the exceptional, compassionate care your pet deserves. Pets hold a very special place in our families, and we treat yours like our own.