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Want to treat your dog's worms naturally? Well, don't

The new holistic dog worm trend might actually be doing more harm than good

Look, I get it. Having a dog can be expensive, especially if your pet is prone to nasty creepy-crawlies like fleas, ticks and parasites. At-home remedies are admittedly tempting when you consider the vet bill as the other option, but when it comes to treating parasites, bite the bullet and take the bill.

Holistic claims

There are some claims out there right now that dog worms can be treated with holistic methods rather than through traditional medicinal routes. For example, I found a site that claimed that mere pumpkin seeds could cure your pet of unwanted occupants in his or her stomach.

Garlic, carrots and cloves were other suggestions I found around the web as ways to prevent and treat worms in dogs.

More: Introduce a new dog to the rest of your fur family with this advice

Unfortunately, the claims are simply too good to be true.

"You probably shouldn't," veterinarian Dr. Rhonda Casper said when SheKnows asked her if people should seek holistic options to treat dog worms.

Holistic medicine as an adjunct to traditional practices

Casper does have experience with holistic medicine and believes in using it when it makes sense. She said she often pairs traditional medicine with holistic practices, but not when it comes to treating dog worms.

"I think holistic medicine is best used in conjunction with Western medicine," Casper explained. "I don't know of any worm treatments that aren't actual de-wormers that actually clear parasite infections."

More: Should dogs really be eating raw food? We asked experts for answers

Other holistic suggestions can actually be dangerous and even fatal to your pet if not administered correctly. For example, Oregon grape root contains berberine, which Dog Notebook claims can protect against fungi, viruses, bacteria and parasites, but if administered incorrectly, it can be dangerous, especially if your pet could be pregnant or if your pet has liver disease. With a holistic treatment this strong, you might as well just go for a good, vet-recommended dewormer.

Casper equated the holistic worm treatment with holistic approaches to fleas.

"For years there have been these different home remedies and holistic treatments for fleas, but I've never seen them actually work. They still have flea infestations when I see them."

Best practices

I don't know about you, but if my dog gets worms, I want them gone as quickly, effectively and painlessly for my pooch as possible. Luckily, there are medicines that do a really good job of just that. So why risk an untested practice that might end up doing more harm than good?

Casper stressed that holistic treatments are best used as adjuncts to traditional medicine approaches.

More: You use natural remedies on yourself — why not use them on your pet?

If cost is your issue (dewormers can range from about $30 to $100, depending on the size of the pet and the deworming needs), check out options with the vets at places like PetSmart and Petco, which usually have more affordable options. Before experimenting with holistic remedies with your pet, it is always recommended that you get a vet's opinion.

Parasites are gross, but the idea of keeping them around for any longer than necessary while experimenting with treatments that may do more harm than good is an even more unsavory idea.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

The new holistic dog worm trend might actually be doing more harm than good
Image: shark_toof/Instagram
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