To note: I am not a veterinarian, nor do I advise medicating your tortoise at home without first consulting a veterinarian. But if you are anything like myself, I prefer to do my own research along-side the veterinarian’s advice. Everything provided here is the knowledge I have gained through experience, and the advice I may provide in treating your tortoise.
After consulting with a vet, if there is any way for me to treat a tortoise for parasites at home, I jump at the opportunity – fewer vet visits means less stress on your tortoise. In addition, administering a drug to a calm tortoise at home (who will likely voluntarily eat the medicine on a treat, right out of your hand) vs. a stressed nervous tortoise at the vet (who is likely tucked in and not coming out) is a huge advantage. If you are able to administer the drug by simply feeding it with their food, you can avoid having to directly administer the medicine through a tube (which can always carry some risks). Some vets may advise that directly administrating through a tube is the only way to deliver the correct dosage, but the risk in delivering a little less of the medicine seems less risky. The worst that can happen is that we do not kill the parasite (but this is why we recommend sending in a stoole sample after treatment to confirm everything is cleared up). In addition, when the recommended dosage for Panacur is 50-100 mg/kg (Mader, 1996), there is a wide range to account for a small loss of medication. Again, I want to stress that I am not a veterinarian and I am only sharing my opinion.
We generally send stool samples to a veterinarian to check for parasites first. Once you have insight into what parasites your tortoise may have, you can consult with the veterinarian your plan on how to treat it (if you choose to treat from home by this guide).
A common deworming medication is Fenbendazole, which is the drug found in Panacur. We recommend using the Equine 10% Panacur paste for treatment of the following parasites. Also noted are the suggested dosage and treatment plan. For more information on this, refer to Mader (1996) or the following site: http://www.anapsid.org/resources/rxdose.html
Worms / Parasites treated with Panacur: Hepatic worms, Hookworms, Lungworms, Pinworms, Roundworms, Strongyles, and Pentastomids.
Treatment Plan: A single dose is 50-100 mg/kg, usually 100 mg/kg (Calculator below will help determine the correct amount of the Panacur paste to use). This should be repeated 2-3 times, with each treatment being approximately 10-14 days apart. After the 2-3 treatments are done, bring in another stool sample to the vet to confirm everything is cleared up.
Execution Plan: Prepare a small treat to load the Panacur onto (cucumber is a great choice because it helps to hydrate them too, which is an important aspect to consider during medication). Set the treat on a high precision scale (with low capacity and resolution of 0.1 to 0.01g) and tare it. Start loading the Panacur on top of the treat at the recommended dose (calculator below).