Does Your Puppy Have Worms

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Most puppies are infected with worms at some point in their life. The good news about worms is that they sound worse than they are. Getting rid of them is not difficult – but prevention and treatment are very important.

Your veterinarian can diagnose what kind of worms your puppy has and recommend the appropriate prescription. The bad news is that worms can cause weight loss, weakness and dehydration. Some types, if left untreated, may even be transferred to humans.

Most puppies experience worms at some point in their life so it is important to know how to recognize and treat worms. The four most common worms:

 Tapeworms: There are many different types of tapeworms. Swallowing infected fleas while grooming is the way most puppies get the tapeworm infection. If you see your puppy dragging his behind along the ground, or excessively licking his anal area, he may have tapeworms. Tapeworms can grow to be up to 32 inches in length. Segments look like bits of rice, and can be found on the skin and in the hair around the anal area. They may also show up in your puppy's stool. Getting rid of your puppy's fleas is important in preventing future tapeworm infections. The stool of infected puppies is full of tapeworm eggs. Flea larvae eat the tapeworm eggs, and can then re-infect your puppy.

Roundworm: Roundworms can grow up to seven inches in length. They may be visible in your puppy's stool as eggs, or what looks like strands of spaghetti. Puppies become infected with roundworm when they ingest something that has been contaminated with larvae. If your puppy has roundworm his weight may drop and he may appear tired and weak. See your veterinarian immediately. If left untreated, roundworm can be passed to humans.

Hookworms: This worm is passed when dogs ingest the hookworm larvae - it can also penetrate a dog's skin. Hookworms consume large amounts of blood and are usually ¾ of an inch long. They live on your puppy's intestinal wall. Your veterinarian may be able to spot these worms by examining your puppy's stool under a microscope. If your puppy has diarrhea that is very dark in color or contains blood consult your veterinarian immediately.

Whipworms: Whipworms are passed to your puppy when he swallows the eggs. They live in the colon of infected puppies and can cause inflammation of the colon. They can be difficult to diagnose because the eggs don't show up in stool until about 3 months after infection. The main symptom is a bloody stool.

Prevention: Puppies should start receiving treatment a few weeks after they are born, before they show signs of the infection. When you bring your puppy home for the first time, or if you suspect he has worms, take a stool sample to your veterinarian to have it checked microscopically for intestinal parasites. Keep your puppy free from fleas and this will help prevent tapeworm. Always clean up after your puppy. Infected stools that haven't been cleaned up can re-infect him. Most puppies take heartworm medication – speak to your veterinarian about heartworm medication that helps to prevent intestinal worms.

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