There are a few days in the year that I really DO NOT look forward to, and George’s worming day is one of them. To be fair, George doesn’t like it either. In fact, he hates it, which is probably what makes me so uncomfortable with it.
I am a bit ambivalent about the whole worming theory anyway. I know people who only worm their dogs when and if it is necessary, i.e. when and if the dogs have actually got worms. I admit I can see some logic in it. We don’t treat our kids or ourselves for all sorts of conditions before we’re actually confronted with them – you know, just in case! – so why should we do that to our pets?
I also know people who worm their dogs as much as 4 times a year, as per their vet’s instructions. The justification for this has to do with the incubation and life cycle of various types of worms and the damage that these can cause to the dogs or, potentially, any humans that they may come in contact with. The aim is to provide the dog with all-year-round protection. That makes sense, too.
Having considered both extremes, I find that I sit somewhere in the middle. Although I’m not a big fan of stuffing my dog with chemicals when he can do without them, I’m not comfortable with the idea of no protection at all, either. We live in a city with a large dog population, so George is exposed to whatever the other dogs are carrying. We also live near a nature reserve, so he’s exposed to whatever the wildlife are carrying, too. On top of this, he is a super sniffer/licker…
If we only had George’s health to consider, the above arguments might not have been enough. After all he’s never ever had any worms (or eggs). And believe me, I always check! But we’ve got Brianna to think about, plus her friends and our little nephews. They all love George and like to share cuddles and kisses with him. And we can’t risk infecting them with nasty worms, can we? So we took all these worries to out vet and asked for his advice.
This is how we came to the solution of worming George twice a year. Two days of hassle are much better than four days of hassle. But I still don’t look forward to them. I’ll tell you why.
At the vet’s and some whippet breeders’ advice, we give George Drontal Plus worming tablets. There have been reports of whippets developing bad reactions to other types of tablets, so we decided to stick to what seems to be the best choice. For his weight, George is supposed to take 1 1/2 tablets. And this is where the stress begins.
The tablets are flavoured, therefore supposed to appeal to dogs and tickle their taste buds. Apparently, some dogs would do anything to get their paws on one of these. Well, unsurprisingly, my dog disagrees. He dislikes the tablets so much that he tries to hide as soon as he hears me open the packet.
In the early days, we tried to offer George the tablets as a treat, trying not to make much fuss about it. He didn’t eat them. Then we broke them into small pieces and hid them in his food. He didn’t eat that day. Next, we crushed them into a fine powder, which we sprinkled in his food. Again, he went hungry. Knowing how much he loves his liver cake, we tried these steps once more, replacing his food with the liver treats. The result was the same. A hungry dog, two stressed owners and quite a few wasted tablets.
In the end, there was only one thing left to try…Shoving the tablets down his throat! Luckily, it worked, so we’ve stuck with it ever since. It’s still not a very pleasant experience, but it does the trick. Here’s what happens when it’s worming time.
I take the tablets out of the packet and George tries to make himself invisible in his bed. His dad nudges him out and sits him on his chair (same chair you’ve seen in many of our photos). I break up the tablets in two and stick 3 of the 4 halves on the tip of my finger, using a bit of water. Then I approach George and ask him to open his mouth, which he doesn’t want to do. So I gently open his jaws myself and shove the tablets at the back of his mouth, as far as I can reach. My husband closes George’s mouth tightly and holds his head back, stroking his neck until he swallows the tablets. If I’ve managed to push them far enough, they go down straight away and the whole process is finished within seconds. If I miss the target, then George will try to chew and spit them out, which makes it a messier job.
Either way, the whippet gets his right dose of medicine and my husband and I can relax for another 6 months. When it’s all done, George is rewarded with a few ‘good boy’ liver treats (which he checks carefully first) and then spends the next few hours sulking.
Normally, he’d make friends with his dad by the end of the day, but would continue to be upset with me – “the tablet person” – for another day or two. Last week, however, when we wormed him again, he put up less of a fight and decided to forgive me within the hour. I’m happy. Maybe my boy is growing up. Maybe he’s slowly accepting that he has to take those tablets. Maybe worming doesn’t have to be such a chore after all.