A lot of the time working in veterinary medicine we hear “my puppy was dewormed by the breeder already, why do we have to deworm him again?” Internal parasites are very easily spread, they can pass from one species to another, and are zoonotic; meaning your dog can pass them on to you!
As puppies, we assume that they contract intestinal parasites from their mother. Transmission can occur in utero, or from puppies nursing. As puppies get older and explore the world, they do so with their mouths. There are lots of different routes for your puppy to contract worms, most commonly it happens with the ingestion of parasite eggs or spores, ingestions of certain bugs, or in contaminated soil, water, feces or food. As young puppies, their immune system is growing and can’t always fight off parasites. As they get older, they still have something in their mouths. Sometimes it’s something we wish they wouldn’t. It’s easy for a dog to pick up parasites by going to the dog park, attending a playgroup or doggy daycare, or simply going for a walk around the neighbourhood.
Intestinal parasites can be serious to your puppies well-being and can cause numerous health issues and even disease. They can cause malnutrition, most often owners will say that their puppy is starving all the time, but never gaining weight. Weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and anemia (lack of healthy red blood cells in the pet’s body) are all symptoms. Besides making our pets sick, many of these parasites can affect people. Some parasites can cause more server health issues than others, one being damage to the eyes, and untreated can lead to vision loss, especially in children.
Some internal parasites are harder to detect than others. Not all worms are found in feces, and it can be hard to know if your puppy may have contracted worms. Some signs are:
- A distended abdomen (“pot-belly” look)
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss
- Occasionally coughing
Some puppies infected with intestinal parasites can exhibit no signs or very subtle symptoms that can be easily overlooked. Please consult your veterinarian if you are concerned about internal parasites.
Luckily for us, intestinal parasites are treatable, and even easier to prevent. May puppy owners are already protecting their pets and family from intestinal parasites and don’t even know about it. A lot of flea and tick medication and most deworming medications cover many different species of internal parasites. If your dog is not already on monthly parasite preventatives, you might want to talk to your veterinarian about how to best protect your pets and family from intestinal parasites. Also, before you bring a new pet into the household, it’s important to have them checked by your veterinarian so that they do not expose your other pets or family to parasites.
Although intestinal parasites are treatable, the best way to protect your puppies against internal parasites is to keep them on parasite preventatives.
Written by: Alyssa Heneberry, CCS