Deworming your puppy is a critical part of his puppy care. 98% of all puppies are born with worms that they contracted before they were born from their mother.
There are many different species of worms which can affect your puppy's growth and development. These worms are intestinal parasites, and contrary to popular belief, you probably won't see them in the puppy's stool unless they have a severe infestation.
The most common type of worm found in puppies are roundworms. Roundworms, as you might expect, are round, and a common description is spaghetti-like. These ascarids are very common in nature and can survive outside a host in a cyst stage for a long time. Grassy areas are common places to find any number of parasitic cysts.
Tapeworms are among the most difficult to get rid of. They are a flat, segmented worm.
The head of the tapeworm burrows into the intestine wall and segments break off and are expelled with the feces. You may see wriggling rice-like segments in the stool or dry sawdust-like flakes stuck in the coat around the puppy's anus. Each segment contains thousands of eggs and ingestion will cause a recurrent infestation.
Fleas are the vector for the tapeworm. They carry the tapeworm from one host to the next. When an animal bites a flea, the tapeworm finds it's way to the digestive tract where it sets up camp. Tapeworms can be very difficult to get rid of. Dislodging the head can require multiple de-worming attempts. If you do not kill the worm at the source, it can and will regenerate from the head.
There are actually very few medications that work against tapeworms. Many of which can be very hard on the puppy. Whichever medication you choose, you should be sure to consult your veterinarian before you use it. Drontal is the best general de-wormer on the market today. It is a wide spectrum de-wormer and does get tapes, most do not. If your puppy definitely has tapes, it is a good idea to follow up with a species specific dewormer. That is, one that just gets tapes.
When de-worming your puppy, you need to repeat it at least twice, three times is better still. The procedure needs to be done at two week intervals. To follow the life-cycle of the parasite. Most eggs will hatch in that two weeks. The first medication kills anything that is its adult stage, the follow up treatments kill anything that has hatched in the mean time. You can see why it may be advisable to repeat it a third time, just in case any residual eggs had yet to hatch or, any remaining adults laid new eggs.
It is a good idea to follow the final worming with a microscopic fecal exam done at your vet's office a couple weeks after the final de-worming. Just to make sure no eggs are present. Your vet will need a very fresh fecal sample. Usually no more than an hour old.
Intestinal parasites can cause many problems for the puppy. They can become malnourished, despite how much they eat. If they are always sharing their nutrition with their unwelcome companions they won't grow well. They will be more susceptible to disease despite vaccines. They may have chronic diarrhea and vomiting and never reach their standard body weight or muscle mass.
Some species of intestinal parasites are transmissible to humans. Mainly children who have a less developed immune system and are more likely to be in the vicinity of the worms or eggs. Round worms especially can infect young children. Children inadvertently put their hands in their mouth or roll around in the grass with the puppy. It is possible, though less likely to contract other species of worms as well.
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