Worms are an inevitable part of a puppy’s life, so knowing what to look for and how to treat them is important. Most puppies are born with worms, which is why puppies should be wormed at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 weeks of age, and then every three months for life with an all-wormer. Pregnant and nursing mothers should also be treated during mating, before the birth of their puppies, and every three months.
Worming treatments are easy and effective to use, but it is important to read the label, as you may need to use multiple products to protect your puppy against all types of worms. Heavy worm infestations in puppies should be repeated 10 days after the initial dose is administered. If you’re having problems administering your puppy’s treatment, ask your veterinarian for a demonstration during your next vet consult.
Worm warning signs
• Weakness and listlessness
• Diarrhoea or vomiting
• Weight loss despite a good appetite
• Abnormally swollen stomach
Types of worms
Roundworm can be contracted through infected poo or dirt. This thin, spaghetti-like parasite is around 12cm long and can cause a potbellied appearance. Symptoms may include weight loss, weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea or mucus in the stool, and stunted growth.
Hookworm is one of the most dangerous of all intestinal parasites. It can be transmitted from mothers to puppies before birth or through suckling. You may be able to spot it by observing the level of your puppy’s lethargy, and looking out for symptoms that include anaemia, poor appetite and black tarlike stools that contain blood.
Tapeworm can infect a puppy when it eats its larvae from a host animal, such as a flea or a mouse. There are no obvious symptoms, but small, rice-like segments can be found around their anus or in their stool. Mature tapeworms will cause your puppy to eat more than normal, but with no weight gain.
Whipworm will find its way to your puppy’s digestive tract, causing chronic bowel inflammation. You may notice mucus in the stools and weight loss or diarrhoea.
Coccidia is an organism that can live in your puppy’s intestines. It is sometimes ingested through raw or undercooked meat, including rodents. Symptoms can include diarrhoea, fever, weight loss and loss of appetite.
Heartworm can enter a puppy through the bite of a mosquito. It causes heart or lung damage, coughing, lethargy and fatigue, and can be fatal. Heartworms can be detected through a blood test, and while they are difficult to cure, they are simple to prevent. Ask your vet about treatment.
Ringworm is caused by a fungus that lives on the skin and is extremely contagious - it can even be transmitted to humans. Ringworm appears as oval bare patches on your puppy’s skin. To minimise the risk, avoid unnecessary contact with other dogs. If you suspect your puppy has ringworm, take them to the vet to get checked as ringworm can only be detected under an ultraviolet light. Once detected, your veterinarian will be able to administer the correct treatment.
It is important to treat your puppy during the early stages of their life and maintain this treatment into their adult years. If you have any concerns about treating your puppy for parasites, contact your vet.
About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre
The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.