Saturday, July 26, 2014

Do Over the Counter Dewormers for Pets Really Work?

A few weeks ago, Shiner had a case of tapeworms. Tapeworms are an intestinal parasite that live inside your pet's gastrointestinal tract and feed off of nutrients from the food your pet eat. Dogs and cats get tapeworms by ingesting an infected flea. We've had quite the battle with fleas this year, and I'm afraid it's not done with just yet.

Photo via Terrah

Tapeworms aren't too serious luckily and are easy enough to get rid of. They are easy to spot either in your pet's stool, or around your pet's anus. But if you really want the lowdown on everything that has to do with tapeworms, you should read this

As soon as I noticed Shiner had tapeworms, I wondered if there was something over the counter that I could find from the store to get rid of them with. I searched different Dewormers available through PetSmart online, but couldn't ever find any active drug ingredient lists for them. 

Later, while I was shopping at our local H-E-B store I noticed some dewormers on a shelf and grabbed a box to see what was inside. Score! The one I had picked up said it was for tapeworms and contained Praziquantel, which is the correct drug for getting rid of tapeworms. I bought a box hoping it would do the trick but was still skeptical. 

The product I purchased was Sergeant's Vetscription Worm Away 7. The medicine also is supposed to work for hookworms and roundworms and contains pyrantel pamoate, the drug used to clear up those 2 types of worm infections. 


I got home and gave Shiner two tablets, as per the directions on the box. The next day, I saw no more tapeworms and haven't seen any since. Hooray! It really did work! I've always been so skeptical about over the counter dewormers for dogs. 

Here's why I think over the counter dewormers don't work for everyone. First of all, the only type of worm you will ever see with your bare eyes are tapeworms. Technically, you only see segments of a tapeworms as it breaks off in pieces when it comes out. 

Any other intestinal parasite is going to be diagnosed with a microscope. Hookworms and whipworms are microscopic and are diagnosed by finding eggs with fecal examinations. Roundworms are big enough to see, but they live in your pet's gut and do not come out. Maybe on a rare occasion a pet owner could see a roundworm, but I still have never even seen one. They are also diagnosed by finding microscopic eggs with a fecal examination. 

Photo via Grade51SD

With that being said, how would a pet owner ever know what type of worm their pet had without visiting a veterinarian first? And unless you know what type of parasite you're dealing with, you can't accurately medicate an animal for it. There are certain types of dewormers for certain types of worms. That is why I think over the counter worm medications don't work for everyone all of the time. 

Also, if your pet is sick and experiencing gastrointestinal issues like upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, etc. chances are it's not because of worms. Going to the store and picking up a generic dewormer is probably not going to help. One phrase I've heard quite often is "I think he has worms, because he's lost a lot of weight lately". I'll be the first to tell you that worms are not the answer to every pet's health problem. 

But, at least I now know that there is a good over the counter dewormer for tapeworms I can trust if I ever need it again. Hopefully, I don't!

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57 comments:

  1. Thanks, that is good info and also good to know I can get that without a vet. I do have a huge bottle of wormer that I got from the vet for all these cats. Take care.

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    1. Well I'm glad your vet is willing to work with you on that Marg. The liquid is probably for roundworms and hookworms. Tape worm medicine is usually in pill form, or there is also an injection but that is obviously only done by a veterinarian.

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    2. No I have 2 dogs and they have tapeworms almost every year and the treatment I received from the vet is liquid (and he always prescribed me this and I am totally sure it is for tapeworm) so yes the tapeworm medicine can be liquid (it is actually white (creamy) and you give it orally in a plastic seringue.

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    3. I'm a veterinary technician. The white liquid you are talking about is called Fenbendazole or Panacur. (It's not the praziquantel that I am talking about, which is the most popular treatment of tapeworms.) Panacur is effective against some types of tapeworms, but not all of them and usually not the common tapeworms that dogs and cats get.

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    4. I will add, however, that Panacur is also a good dewormer which kills a wide range of parasites whereas Praziquantel is more just for tapeworms.

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  2. Great that it worked and the worms had to go :o) I'm more overcautious and when I notice that something could be wrong, I always ask the vet before I start a diy-project ( we are anyway not the diy-experts lol) Have a great saturday Shiner &furmily

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    1. Haha that is probably a good idea! Fortunately, I am familiar with all of this stuff and know what should work.

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  3. Timely for me. When we brought home Pierrerot, he had worms. I wish I would have tried an over the counter because a trip to the vet & medicine cost well over $100. I'm glad the over the counter worked for Shiner. If I ever need wormer again, I'll try this one.

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    1. I'm not sure if this one was available for cats, but I don't see why they wouldn't make one for kitties. Hopefully, you won't see any more worms. Especially if you have your fleas under control.

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  4. That was great info and I hope all the doggy peeps listen up!

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  5. Great info!
    When we first adopted Koda, we had him home for about 2 days, and we discovered round worms. I didn't realize you don't usually see them in their poop. He must have had a pretty bad case of them then? Anyways, one day we noticed the round worms in his poop....big long skinny things......disgusting! I did some research and knew right away that this is what I was dealing with. ICK! Anyways, I purchased some over the counter round worm stuff, and it worked perfectly! No more round worms since!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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    1. Yucky! Yes, it's possible for them to come out in stool... that usually happens with a bad case so he probably had a lot of them :( Glad you got the problem sorted out though!

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    2. I know this is old, so I don't know if you will get this, but it's worth a shot... Since your a vet tech -I got sick of feral cats having babies in my yard and my dogs being dogs went to play with the new squeaky things, frankly I rather be a tnr manager than clean that up! So I am tnr, cats fixed, but they live in several areas and 2 seem to have worms - they are eating a ton, no weight loss, lots of butt rubbing - so I am looking for an economical way to dose 5 ferals I can't touch (obviously), so I need to give in food one on one, same day, probably more than once? + the dogs in the 2 cats favorite flowery yard, and my dog so likely 5-6 dogs that all can be touched/held/whatever probably twice too (with their dog parents permission and everything of course, but I don't see the point in fixing part of the colony or not fixing the problem with someone else's dogs at the same time to help prevent the cycle repeating...so lawn clean up would be the condition to treat dogs or there is really no point!) any ideas?

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    3. Well, it depends on what kind of worms they have. There are different medications for different types of worms. I am not sure if the medication I talk about in this post is available for cats, but it may be. After medicating, if you want to prevent tapeworms you're going to have to use flea prevention. Tapeworms are transmitted when a dog or cat eats a flea. Your dogs will not get tapeworms unless they ingest a flea, so at the very least it will be easy to prevent them in your own dogs.

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    4. ann Staub
      Thanks for tge info but i wanted to add that cats don't only get tapeworm or other wormscfrom ingesting fleas but also eating birds, mice rats that have that problem. So if you feel like your furry baby hunts ...it might be the reason for the worms.
      Im currently looking for meds to deworm my younger cat the hunter lol aka milky. Seen it in poop. Barely noticeable. Wondering if snowball has them as shes his mom and they r very close. Shes 3 years old. He is 8 months old. Thanks for this post. I know its late but hopefully someone sees this.

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    5. Yes, if the bird, mouse or rat is infected with the larval tapeworm in their muscle aka cysticercosis. The worms don't really hurt dogs or cats however, they are more just a nuisance.

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  6. Good to know, just in case! I tend to be over cautious and would rather just take my dogs to the vet. I'm th mom that worries about every little thing ;) I can't even tell you how much time and money we spent deworming Mauja when she was a puppy. That girl ate dirt all the time!

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    1. Hehe well I think going to the vet is the best idea if you are unsure of what you are dealing with.

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  7. I will make sure to share. Thus far, fleas haven't been an issue in my area (please flea - stay away!) but so many others are experiencing an infestation, this would be a great post to help spread the word. Thanks

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    1. Ugh they are the worst here!! Our yard is a huge field, maybe 4 acres so treating it is out of the question. I know for sure they hitch a ride on the dog from outside. I always give her a thorough inspection after she's been outside and sometimes find some hitch hikers. We use a lot of sprays and have tried both chemical and natural topicals, both of which do not last long. I have a new natural soap to try out though.

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    2. Why not use Advantix I I for your dogs. I buy mine through my Veterinarian. Yes, this flea and tick medicine is on the expensive side, but Buddy (my dog) has never had a flea or tick while using this once a month. I also have him get the Lepto shot once a year because we live by farm land.

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    3. I have used Advantix before and like the product. This year, I'm using Advantage Multi. I also get the lepto shot, although not flea related. Some people want to try a more natural alternative, so I guess Advantix is out of the question for them. My dog has no issues using it, however. It takes a couple of hours for the fleas to actually die and fall off, because it takes time for the medicine to paralyze them.

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  8. We battled worms/parasites the entire first year of Neeko's life. It was not fun. Glad that Shiner has a momma who knows her stuff!

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    1. Yikes that is unpleasant... thankfully our tapeworm battle was short and uneventful.

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  9. Glad Shiner is sorted and all is well. Worming is something we do religiously. We never miss our dose. Have a super Saturday.
    Best wishes Molly

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  10. Good to know. Thanks for the info, Ann! We sure are glad that Shiner is worm-free again. :)

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  11. TW’s first couple of cats got treated for worms but knowing that v-e-t they prolly didn’t have them. They wanted to get rich quick so they’d treat you for stuff you didn’t have. We dumped them after they turned me upside down and almost killed me.

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    1. Well, thankfully deworming medicine is fairly safe, but that sucks. Glad you dumped them CK! I don't think I've ever hear the story of how you almost died yet.

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  12. when we first got Speedy home he had pin worms we had to get panacur worming paste for him but we get it online as it is cheaper then the vets,xx Rachel

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    1. Do rabbits get pinworms? I though it was only humans and horses? Interesting.

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  13. Ugh...worms! Luke had either roundworms or hookworms when he was younger, but we had to take him to the vet for diagnosis (he had diarrhea). I believe our monthly heartworm med also prevents some worms such as these?
    You are lucky to have knowledge of these things so you could save some money!

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    1. Yes it does Jan! Each heartworm medicine is different though, and most do not prevent against tapeworms, although I have seen some that do. Most commonly they provide roundworm and hookworm prevention. Sentinel is one that provides whipworm protection.

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    2. I owned a hottie that was on heartguard and got whip worms. Changed his meds.
      Ten years later I adopt a chow...the rescue had her spayed and that vet put her on heartguard+ she is Heartworm positive.
      Wondering if I should ask them to change?
      Oh and I've discovered tapeworms segments in her poo.
      Ugh

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    3. Heartgard doesn't protect from whipworm, but Sentinel does. I'm not sure I understand your chow's problem completely. They were put on Heartgard while heartworm positive? Some vets do this before heartworm treatment in small doses. Or they contracted heartworm while already on Heartgard? If so, some companies will compensate for treatment if you can prove it and under certain circumstances. To prevent tapeworms, you'll need to keep them on a flea prevention as tapeworms come from fleas!

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  14. Bain has a vet appointment coming up, so I'm planning on getting the medicine from there. I'd just want to make sure I have all of the bases covered. It's definitely good to know that this works though, I always see them in the pet store.

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    1. If he takes monthly heartworm and flea medicine, he should be just fine. Unless you have horrible fleas like where I live. Dogs groom themselves and swallow a flea and next thing you know, there are worms! It can happen to anyone.

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  15. My Sampson just had a case of tapeworms last week. I didn't even realize they had over the counter products. I just called the vet and went and picked up a single pill. Good to know for the future!

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    1. Uh oh! Thankfully, if you've got a good relationship with your vet getting tapeworms is just as easy as stopping by the store. I know where I used to work, we were OK with prescribing it to pets we had a recent weight on.

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  16. hi everyone. I have a 1 1/2 yr old black lab mix who recently got tapeworms from a flea infestation. Sure enough she started acting strange and then it happened, the scooting(yuck). Ofcourse I called the vet in a panic and hv an appt tomorrow. However I did buy the sergeants dewormer and give her the 2 pills (shes 81 lbs). I gave her the pills yesterday afternoon and tonight she's still doin some scooting, not as much but still none the less. So my question is: how long does it take to work and should I gv her another dosage?

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    1. Hi Sierra, did you see the worms with your own eyes? They are large enough to see. I wouldn't panic too much as they are not too serious, but definitely a good thing to take her to the vet. I can't recall the dosage on the box but I wonder if it was possibly too low for her. It usually takes about 24 hours.

      Also, there is another cause for "butt scooting" and that is anal glands. If her glands are full, she could be trying to empty them by scooting her butt on the ground. There is a link above about why dogs and cats butt scoot.

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  17. Thanks! We're always very careful about researching ingredients in over-the-counter products, glad you found the proper one to use!

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  18. We have a miniature dachshund. She weighs around 3 to 4 pounds. We seen some worms in her stool. We purchased the same wormer as you. On the box it says to give one tablet for a puppy/dog weighing 6 to 12 pounds. Like I said before our baby weighs 3 to 4 pounds, so we broke a tablet in half. Do you think that a half of a tablet was enough?

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    1. Well I can't say for sure, since the product is not labeled for use in dogs that weigh less than 6 pounds unfortunately, Jacob.

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    2. What do you do if the puppy weighs less than six pounds? He's only a couple months old I think.

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    3. I can't say for sure since the product is not labeled for dogs weighing less than 6 pounds. That might be something to consult with a veterinarian.

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  19. Does this stuff work on older dogs?

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    1. My dog is a senior dog and she was about 11 years old when I gave it to her. Age should not matter when it comes to medications for parasites, so the answer is yes.

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  20. You can see BOTH tape and ROUND worms without a microscopic exam. I have seenpuppies so infested with round worms that they vomit them up!!

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    1. Yep. Tapeworms for sure are mostly diagnosed without a microscope. Unless it's a severe case, you are probably not going to see roundworms in stool. But, like you said they can be visualized in vomit. Roundworms are usually diagnosed with a microscopic examination of feces, in which you find eggs.I wouldn't wait until you see a dog vomit up roundworms to have them checked out. That means it's a pretty extreme case if you're seeing that.

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  21. Please dont use Sargent's products or Hartz before googling all of the adverse reactions they've caused in animals.

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    1. I definitely would NOT use their flea products. This post isn't about flea products thoughd, and I didn't even bring up Hartz. The product that is mentioned in this blog post contains exactly the same ingredients that veterinarians give to deworm for tapeworms.

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  22. hi, i have a new little puppy who is 12 weeks old and has tapeworms. She is 3 pounds at present. The breeder said she was given deworming meds a week ago but she is pooping live worms and i have found one or two squirming around on her backside...so gross and uncomfortable for her. is it safe to give her this treatment at 12 weeks and only a week after she had other deworming? thanks for the help! i am anxious to get this cleared up asap...or am i ok to put it off for anther week when we go to the vet?

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    1. It's likely that the dewormer her breeder gave her did not do tapeworms as well. (Usually it's a separate dewormer) It does sound like she has tapeworms. I don't know what the instructions on the box say as far as age of the dog is concerned, so you'll just need to read the label. Otherwise, she will likely be OK before you get to the vet... I know it's gross though. Tapeworms are typically not life threatening.

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  23. It should work for more than $32 a pill. I've been scouring the internet for reviews and opinions on wormers for my animals. I have seen tapeworm evidence in Fury(Adult Cat) and I'm worried it well spread to the other cat or my two Chihuahuas. After seeing your positive article, I looked up Sargents on Amazon, which generally is one of the cheaper places to purchase things from...and it is $65 for a 2 count. That is too rich for me without a prescription. Considering you can get prescription strength medicine for $40ish, this is a gamble. For future reference, I feel like if you're going to push a product and recommend it as you have, you should also tell your readers the approximate cost.

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    1. The worms don't really spread like that. It's the fleas that you have to worry about if you want to keep the pets tapeworm free. And those will spread, of course. And wow! They really jacked that price up. When I purchased the medicine and wrote this article, the price was definitely NOT that high! I didn't pay more than $10 for a couple of pills. I wonder what's caused the huge increase?

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  24. My opinion, if you want your kitten/cat wormed go to the vet. I don't trust very many things over the counter.

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