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When you think of puppies, chances are the image of a fuzzy, warm, playful bundle of tiny little dogs comes to mind. They tumble over each other, tripping on their over-sized feet. They snuggle up together in one precious little mound of fur, snoozing away the hours. They are just. Plain. Adorable.
Rarely do we associate puppies with, well, worms–but maybe we should, if we want to be responsible puppy parents. While irresistibly cute, puppies are also lots of work and responsibility, and they have special health needs when they’re young. One of the most crucial necessities is dewormer. Almost all dogs contract worms at some point in their lives–usually during puppyhood. Taking your puppy to the vet to begin a prescribed dewormer regimen is crucial to his health.
Why and How Puppies Get Worms
Unfortunately, worms are simply a fact of life for most puppies. Often, they are born infected with them because their mother is infected. Sometimes, puppies also contract worms as a result of drinking their infected mother’s milk, which could contain the larvae. Even with a healthy mother, a puppy born free of worms is likely to contract them by eating a small animal infected with worms, or by ingesting feces containing worms or worm larvae.
Symptoms of Worms
One reason worms are such a problem for puppies it that they often show no signs of being infected. Worm larvae can be dormant in the puppy for a long time, so beginning a dewormer regimen early on is very important, regardless of whether or not you think the puppy is infected.
While many puppies may never exhibit symptoms of worms, here are some signs you can look for:
- You may see worms in your puppy’s excrement if he is infected with roundworm or tapeworm; however, hookworm and whipworm will not be visible.
- You may see worm’s in your puppy’s vomit.
- A significant infection may manifest in your puppy’s belly appearing.
- Your puppy may suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, or weight loss.
- Your puppy’s coat may appear dull.
- If the worms have managed to infect his lungs, your puppy may cough.
- Your puppy may seem lethargic.
- You may notice a change in your puppy’s appetite. Some worms may make a puppy hungrier, though he won’t appear to gain any weight. Other types of worms may cause a puppy to feel poorly, and thus lose his appetite.
- Your puppy may be scratching more often.
- You may see worms in your puppy’s fur and on his skin.
- You may notice your puppy eating grass.
Why Worry about Worms?
There are many reasons to be concerned about your puppy’s potential for becoming infected with worms. A worm infection can severely damage a dog’s health, compromising the healthy functioning of his internal organs. Complications from worms can cause your dog to lose consciousness, and can even become fatal.
Additionally, your puppy is not the only creature prone to worms. People can get worms, too. For the health and welfare of all those in your household–canine and human alike–your puppy should be dewormed.
Getting Rid of Worms
The dewormer you use depends on the type of worm you need to prevent or vanquish. Regardless, during your dog’s puppyhood, each regular visit to the veterinarian should include the necessary dewormer as prescribed by your veterinarian. Prescription dewormers are the safest, most accurate, and most effective means of getting rid of worms in your puppy, so always consult your veterinarian as opposed to attempting the job yourself.
While your puppy should be put on a dewormer regimen no matter what, there are ways to prevent him from contracting worms if he does not have them, or after you have succeeded in getting rid of them. Here are some tips for helping keep Rufus worm-free:
- Closely monitor Rover when he visits the dog park and when on walks to reduce the chance of his consuming other animals’ feces.
- Regularly check Clifford’s excrement for worms or larvae.
- Begin a deworming regimen when Rufus is a puppy. Always check with your vet first, and never mix dewormers.
- Pick up after Bingo in your yard at least weekly. A scooper like the one below can make this task less arduous.
NEW Complete Poo Pack | Pooper Scooper, Poop Bags, and Pet Dog Waste Bag Holder (Blue)
Knowing When to Visit the Vet
If you know your dog has worms, visit your veterinarian for a prescription dewormer. Ideally, a dewormer regimen will begin when your puppy is just 2-3 weeks old, and your veterinarian will continue to check your dog for worms two to four times a year.
American Kennel Club