Worms are an inevitable part of a puppy’s life, so knowing the symptoms to look out for and establishing a puppy worming schedule is important.
How often do you worm a puppy?
Young puppies may be born with worms, and are still developing their immune system. For this reason, puppies should be dewormed early in their life, most often at 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12 weeks of age. Once your puppy reaches 12 weeks, you can continue to treat your puppy every three months for life with an effective all-wormer.
Mothers may also pass worms on to their puppies, so it is important they are treated during mating, and before the birth of their puppies.
Symptoms of Intestinal Worms
Watch out for the following warning signs that your new family member may have a case of the puppy worms:
- Weakness and listlessness
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Weight loss despite a good appetite
- Abnormally swollen stomach
If you spot any of these symptoms, collect recent stool samples and arrange a meeting with your vet to help diagnose the problem. If your puppy has worms, your vet will discuss treatment options with you.
Types of Worms
Roundworm can be contracted through infected poo or dirt. This thin, spaghetti-like parasite is around 12 cm long and can cause a pot-bellied appearance. Symptoms may include weight loss, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea 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 anemia, poor appetite, and black tar-like 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 diarrhea.
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 diarrhea, 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 minimize 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.
Worming Treatments for your Puppy
Worming treatments are easy and effective to use. It is important to understand that these treatments do not prevent your pet from contracting worms but work by killing any worms that are present when administered. To effectively maintain your puppy’s health, you should deworm them regularly.
There are many different ways to give your puppy a worming treatment, from easily dosed and administered puppy worming tablets to deliciously flavored chews. These different formulations make it easy to give your puppy the wormer they need. It is important to read the label of any puppy wormers, as you may need to use multiple products to protect your puppy against different types of worms.
If your puppy requires a comprehensive treatment, then an all-wormer such as PURINA TOTAL CARE will treat infections of roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and tapeworms (including hydatids). These puppy wormers often come as tablets. If you’re unsure of how to administer tablets to your puppy, ask your veterinarian for a demonstration during your next vet consult.
For an effective broad-spectrum treatment, consider an ‘all-in-one’ monthly treatment such as PURINA TOTAL CARE Heartwormer, Allwormer & Flea Control for Small Dogs, which is suitable for puppies from 2 weeks of age and over 4 kg in body weight. This kind of treatment prevents heartworm and flea infections and controls roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and tapeworm, as well as fleas and the development of flea allergy dermatitis.
What many puppy owners don’t realize is that while deworming is vital, it is only part of the solution. As mentioned, wormers kill parasites in your pet, but don’t always work to prevent infection in the first place, especially when it comes to intestinal worms. Therefore, preventing reinfection is the key to a happy, healthy puppy.
In addition to maintaining your regular puppy deworming schedule, to keep your pet from being reinfected from their environment:
- Promptly pick up their poop.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling them, especially if you’ve handled their waste.
- Keep your puppy flea-free, as fleas may pass on tapeworms to your dog.
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.