Worming your puppy
One of the most important first steps in caring for a new puppy is in starting a deworming treatment program. Unfortunately, most puppies are born with worms which they contract from their mother; either through the uterus before birth, or through the mother’s milk. For this reason the best policy is to start a puppy deworming program as soon as a pup reaches 2 weeks of age. Worming should be a continuing part of a puppy’s overall health care, with the puppy being treated at 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12 weeks. Once the puppy reaches maturity a tri-monthly all-wormer should be regularly administered for the rest of the dog’s life.
For the health of the puppy “a better safe than sorry” philosophy is best as many species of worms can affect a puppy’s growth and development. Not seeing worms in a puppy’s stool is no guarantee they are free from infestation. Worms are internal parasites so you are unlikely to see any evidence of them unless the puppy has just recently been wormed or has a particularly severe infestation. In fact, you probably won’t see any symptoms at all in a dog that has not been wormed until the infection reaches critical levels.
When you do see signs of worm infestation puppies will usually display the following symptoms:
- Weak and listless
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Swollen stomach giving the dog a “pot-bellied” appearance
- Losing weight without a loss of appetite
The most common type of worm found in puppies is the roundworm. While there are over 15,000 varieties of roundworm only 3 of those are a problem for dogs. Most puppies are born with roundworm as they are passed on from the mother. Other common areas for puppies to pick up roundworms are from faecal matter and litter boxes, which means it is important to keep the yard and litter box clean.
Roundworms are extremely common in nature, and like their name describes, they are long and round; very similar in appearance to a strand of spaghetti. They are also extremely hardy as they can survive in cyst form for many months. When they are in this cyst form, they are in a type of deep hibernation that allows them to remain alive outside the dog, just waiting for the time when they are ingested by a dog and can continue their lifecycle and reproduction.
Other worm infestations your puppy may come into contact with are hookworm, tapeworm, whipworm, and heartworm – with hookworm being one of the most dangerous intestinal parasites. If a dog has suffered from tapeworm in the past, it must be regularly wormed as a dog infested with tapeworms may shed over a whopping 100,000 eggs per day!
Usually, a variety of products contain all that is required to keep your puppy free from all types of worm infestations and they are all fairly easy to administer. Tablets can be hidden in food very easily for breeds with a love of food like Beagliers, while some of the more picky Poochons and be wormed with spot on treatments. A good and reputable breeder should provide you with a detailed list of dates for your dog’s worming and instructions on how to worm the puppy yourself. However, it is important to carefully read the label of whichever product you choose to use and consult your vet if you are unsure. Your vet will be happy to give you advice, and even a demonstration in treating your puppy during your next consultation should you need it.