So, you brought home a new puppy! Give your new bundle of joy a head-start to a long, healthy life by being aware of puppy parasites and deworming that may be necessary in their young lives. Puppies are particularly susceptible to parasites, so Suzanne Gardner of PetSide.com provided this insight into puppy parasites and what you can do about them.
Guide to Puppy Parasites and Deworming
Your new little puppy will be dependent on you for everything including health care, and one of the biggest health problems that young puppies face are parasites. While we all would rather not think about parasites, most puppies will at some time experience a parasitic infection. Even worse, many puppies are already carrying parasites when they are adopted. To keep your puppy safe from a parasitic infection, here is everything that you need to know about puppy parasites and deworming puppies before you bring your puppy home.
Common Puppy Parasites
- Roundworms – can be passed to the puppy from its mother or by eating soil or poop
- Hookworms – puppy can get them by eating, licking or walking on contaminated soil
- Whipworms – puppy can get them by eating or licking soil or poop
- Tapeworms – puppy can get them from fleas
Puppies usually become infected with parasites while they are in the mother’s womb or through ingesting the parasites once they have been born. Roundworms and hookworms can migrate through the placenta of an infected mother and these parasites can also migrate to the mammary glands and infect the puppies when they nurse. If the mother was not consistently dewormed before she became pregnant, chances are that the puppies will have worms.
Puppies may accidentally ingest parasites through soil and fecal matter that are carrying parasitic eggs. Roundworm and whipworm eggs are particularly resilient, and these eggs can live in soil for years. Once a puppy eats the soil, or gets contaminated soil or feces on their paws and licks it off, the parasitic infection begins.
Puppies can become infected with hookworms if they accidentally ingest contaminated fecal matter through grooming; hookworms in the environment can also migrate through the skin of the paw pads and then travel to the intestines. Fleas carry tapeworms, and if a puppy eats a flea then a tapeworm infection may occur.
Common Symptoms of Puppy Parasites
- Weight Loss
- Pale Gums
- Pot Belly
The most common symptoms of parasitic infection in puppies include weight loss and diarrhea. In severe infections, the puppy can become anemic and its gums may become pale. The puppy may also have a poor coat quality, a pot-bellied appearance or become easily tired.
Treatment for Puppy Parasites
- Strategic Deworming Treatment
Once a parasite infects a puppy, it can take weeks or months for the parasites to develop into adults. Before that time occurs, the parasites remain in the egg and larval stages. Deworming medications only target the adult worms; they cannot kill the egg and larval stages of the parasites. Since puppies are often exposed to a parasite multiple times, veterinarians recommend using strategic deworming procedures to ensure that the puppy is totally cleared of the infection.
When a puppy is strategically dewormed, the deworming medication is administered at regular intervals to target any new adults that may be developing. Strategic deworming protocol recommends that puppies are dewormed at two, four, six, eight, and 12 weeks of age; puppies that are severely infected by one, or multiple, parasites should then be dewormed once a month until they are six months of age.
If you are bringing a new puppy home, and the puppy has already been dewormed a few times, don’t assume that the puppy is now clear of parasites. You should continue the strategic deworming protocol based on your puppy’s age. The puppy should also receive a veterinarian examination to check for any internal parasites.
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