Dogs are the perfect home to many nasty parasites and worms. Nobody wants to talk about them, but we must acknowledge them for your dog’s health!
Most poor pups are born with some worm (common roundworms) that was forwarded on from the mama dog, usually through her breast milk or from giving birth.
There are several other ways for your pup to get infected such as infected soil, dead animals, feces, and insects. If your dog is infected for an extended period, the worms can suck the nutrients in your pup’s intestines which can cause severe weight loss and even unfortunate death! It’s easy to pass them onto other dogs as well as humans if you aren’t careful.
Healthy dogs will get infected with intestinal worms every once in a blue moon, but when they are under an active immune system, their body will fight the parasites. You may never know your dog even had worms. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, especially in pups.
• Chronic diarrhea
• Chewing on his tail or scooting his butt along the floor (it may look funny, but the dog needs to scratch a horrible itch!)
• Mucus or worms in his feces
• Shortness of breath
• Weight loss
• A sudden increase in appetite
• Dull quality to their fur
You need to know that your dog may not always show obvious symptoms or any symptoms at all.
What to Do if You Think Your Pup Has Worms
You need to take a small sample of your dog’s feces and bring it to your vet. Gross, right? It’s necessary. It doesn’t have to be a broad cross-section, but it should be fresh, less than 8 hours old. Keep it sealed in a clear plastic baggy. The vet will examine the sample under a microscope to determine whether or not your pup does indeed have worms. There can be a false negative test, but more often than not your vet will prescribe de-wormer to be on the safe side.
There are several types of worms to be informed about.
Roundworms are the most common and the sneakiest parasite. They hide out in your dog’s small intestine and reproduce. They are long and resemble noodles.
An adult dog is at a very minimal risk to receive serious health problems from roundworms. Puppies, on the other hand, are at a very high danger of receiving serious health concerns. Roundworms can cause dietary deficiency and debilitate growth.
Here’s a quick video to familiarize yourself with roundworms.
Tapeworms connect themselves to the intestines. They are lengthy and flat. You can usually find bits and pieces of tapeworms in your dog’s feces. Fleas are the biggest carrier of these particular worms!
Tapeworms usually won’t make your pup sick. With increased infections, however, your puppy may lose weight due to a little appetite.
Want to get grossed out in a hurry? Watch this video about tapeworms getting pulled out of a dog’s butt. Aghh!!
Hookworms mostly live in the small intestine where they attach themselves to the hook end of the worm. They feed on your pup’s blood! They are gray and only about half an inch long.
Most adult dogs develop immunity to hookworms, but they can cause serious complications in puppies. The biggest problem is anemia in your pup. Symptoms of anemia are as followed: weakness, a lethargic state, and pale gums.
Here’s a video providing some info on hookworms.
Heartworms are the scariest of the parasites. They are foot long worms that make homes in your pup’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels. They most commonly passed from mosquitoes. Vets must do a blood test to diagnose heartworms.
If they get big enough, the adult worms will eventually cause inflammation of the blood vessels. They can also block blood flow which will create blood clots that lead to death.
What to Do if Your Pup Gets a Worm Diagnosis
Your vet will prescribe a de-wormer. There are many forms such as a pill taken orally, liquid, and even paste. There is also a shot that is broad-spectrum, meaning that it can kill the majority of parasites and worms.
Adult dogs will need to be de-wormed every four months or so, more frequently if they are at risk to re-infect. Puppies are another matter. Regardless of a diagnosis, you should deworm your puppy as soon as he hits four weeks old, as most puppies are born with worms.
Here’s a dog de-worming formula that we recommend:
How to Give Your Puppy De-Wormer
In this scenario, your vet has prescribed your pup a liquid de-wormer and then a much stronger pill that must be taken orally. This is the most conventional route your vet will take.
• At four weeks old, you will give your pup 1.5mL of the liquid de-wormer through an eye dropper. It should be quite an easy process as they make most of the liquid de-wormers in a flavor that attracts dogs.
• You will repeat this step every month for three months.
• The third month you will administer the pill. Most pups won’t enjoy this process. They will be disgusted by the pill and will refuse it. You may have to be forceful.
• You can try bending your pup’s head back. You want to open his mouth, and you can do this by placing a couple of fingers on his top jaw and applying a significant amount of pressure. When he now opens his mouth, put the pill in his mouth clear at the end of his tongue. Hold his mouth closed for a minute while massaging his throat to encourage him to swallow the pill.
• Another approach is to take the pill and apply pressure on his gums by his molars. It will force him to engage in opening his jaw. Shove your fingers all the way down his throat, so he won’t attempt to bite you. Let go of the pill and hold his mouth shut for a minute. Don’t forget to massage his throat, so he swallows the pill instead of spitting it out.
De-wormers work in a cycle process. The first round kills the worms, and the next few doses will kill the larvae that have hatched since then.
If Your Pup Is Diagnosed with Heartworms
If your pup has the unfavorable diagnosis of heartworms, your vet will do more blood tests to determine how severe the infection is.
Your vet will start your pup on a preventative medicine that will have to be administered. After a month, your vet will give your dog a series of three shots in two months. During this treatment, as the heartworms die they break off into pieces. These pieces can block blood flow from the heart or lungs. You will have to limit your pup’s exercise to very little!
After six months, you will do another blood test to check if your pup is still plagued with the heartworms. If needed, the vet will administer another round of shots. If he is free and clear, he will still need to be on preventative medication for the rest of his life. You cannot skip a dose, and your vet will test him every year.
There are many steps you can take to prevent these malicious worms from creating an annoyance in your life. Keep your pup flea free, feed your puppy a nutritious diet, and make your yard of feces a few times a week. Even after your pet is clear of worms, they can be re-infected at any time, so you never want to stop taking safety measures!