Puppies and worms
Anyone who’s ever owned a puppy knows how common, and annoying, worms can be.
Most worms set up home inside your puppy’s digestive system, but some worms invade other, more critical organs such as the heart. Having worms can cause all kinds of problems for a puppy, ranging from vomiting to more serious illnesses such as anemia or possibly even death.
Although they can be worrying, treating puppy worms is fairly straightforward and generally very effetive.
There are 5 main types of worms that are usually seen, these are
Roundworms are the most common kind of puppy worms and many puppies are born with them as an infected mother dog can pass them onto her puppies’ in-utero. They can sometimes be seen in your puppy’s faeces, and are most often transmitted through contact with the worm eggs or larvae in the contaminated stools.
Roundworms can be passed onto humans, and children are most at risk as they tend to play close to the ground where they can come into contact with infected soil, grass or even the faeces themselves. A child’s tendency to put their hands in their mouth, and to be less stringent about personal hygiene makes them an easy target.
A veterinarian can determine whether or not your puppy has worms with a simple fecal exam. They can then prescribe the right medication to treat whichever parasite they find.
The most common type of tapeworm is spread by fleas. You can often see tapeworms (or segments of them) in your puppy’s faeces. They look like small grains of rice and are white in color. They are generally not easily transmitted to humans but good hygiene is still important.
In addition to any medication your veterinarian may prescribe to treat a tapeworm problem, using a regular, monthly flea and tick preventative is a good way to avoid an recurrence of the infestation.
Whipworms may be more common that generally thought, but they are difficult to detect. If your pup has these parasites he may show few symptoms early on, but regular (and often repeated) fecal exams are necessary to make sure he’s whipworm-free and to head off any future problems.
The hookworm is a very, very tiny but still pretty nasty little puppy worm. They do best in warm, moist soil and actually penetrate through your puppy’s skin and then travel to his intestines.
Humans can also pick up hookworms in the same way, so it’s best not to run around barefoot if your puppy has hookworms. A simple fecal examination performed by your veterinarian, and the correct medication, is the answer to a hookworm infestation.
Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and they’re the most deadly of the puppy worms. Heartworms (as their name suggests), take up residence in your puppy’s heart and can cause serious health problems. If a heartworm problem is left untreated, it’s quite possible that the puppy or dog will die.
Treatment for heartworms is a long, complicated and expensive procedure. It’s highly recommended that you give your puppy a preventative medication, such as Heartgard, on a regular basis. Consult your veterinarian about this.
If you have a new puppy be sure to have your veterinarian give him, or her, a fecal exam to check for worms at his first check-up. If at anytime you notice worms in your puppy’s faeces, or see symptoms that suggest a worm problem, talk to your vet straight away.
Don’t try to treat puppy worms with over-the-counter-medications. They’re generally not very effective and can have unwanted, even dangerous, side-effects.