Worms in Puppies
Puppies can pick up worms from another pet or their environment. Gastrointestinal worms can cause harmful damage to the gut lining of a puppy, which is why you need to regularly treat your puppy and break the cycle of infection.
What Causes Worms in Puppies? Daily habits such as walkies, grooming and exploring can mean worms. Here's what to look out for.
Ingestion of contaminated soil or faeces containing eggs or immature worms (larvae) is the most common occurrence of intestinal worm transmission. Many parasites live in grass or soil which makes it easy for puppies to pick up worms whilst exploring. Also ingesting infected eggs, undercooked or raw meat and small mammals could result in consuming intestinal worms.
Infected dogs can pass on worms and other diseases to her new puppies whilst they are in the womb. It is also possible for mother dogs to pass on worms through her milk whilst nursing her pups. It is important to regularly worm both mum and puppies.
Roundworm eggs can attach to your puppies coat when exploring. If they are swallowed, there is a risk of infection. Puppies that are not treated to prevent fleas, also have a higher risk of contracting worms by ingesting fleas that may be carrying tapeworm larvae. The larvae can develop into adult tapeworms if ingested.
Symptoms of worms in puppies
Diarrhoea and vomitingIf your puppy has soft stools, diarrhoea or vomiting, it could mean worms. However, these are also symptoms of other issues your puppy may have, so it is important to consult your vet if symptoms persist.
Malnutrition and poor growthParasites feed on the nutrients in your puppy’s stomach and may cause malnutrition and weight loss as nutrients aren't absorbed affecting your pet's growth. Dull coat, fragile nails and lethargy are also symptoms of malnutrition.
A distended, swollen abdomenA pot bellied appearance is more commonly seen in puppies who have contracted worms whilst nursing but adult dogs may also have this symptom.
Anaemia (the loss of healthy red blood cells)Check inside your dogs mouth and notice the colour of their gums. A healthy gum colour should be nice and pink. If your dogs gums are pale pink and white, this could indicate your dog is anemic. You should consult with your veterinarian.
‘Scooting’ along the floorSome puppies may drag their bottoms along the ground to relieve itchiness from worms, or to release their anal glands.
Worms may be visible in faecal matterWorms may be visible in your puppy's stools or might appear around your puppy's anus. They may look like moving pieces of rice or, if they are dry, they’ll look like hard yellow specks.
Common Worm Types To Look Out For
RoundwormYour puppy may pick up roundworms by sniffing or licking faeces passed by another infected animal. Roundworms are common in puppies and can cause weight loss, poor coat, pot belly, loss of appetite, vomiting and more. Roundworms can be from 10 - 18cm in length and can cause disease in humans.
HookwormHookworms can affects dogs and cats of all ages through inadvertently swallowing hookworm larvae from contaminated soil or contaminated faeces. They can cause anaemia, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and more. Hookworm adults suck blood from the wall of the intestine and can be 1 - 2cm in length. Hookworms can also cause disease in humans.
WhipwormYour puppy might ingest whipworms by grooming themselves after they have been in contaminated soil. Whipworms are only found in dogs and don't always cause disease, however when they do, symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, anemia, abdominal pain and straining. Adult whipworms suck blood from the wall of the intestine and can be from 4 - 7 cm in length.
TapewormIf your puppy has tapeworms, you may be able to see rice or spaghetti shaped worms in their faeces. Your pup might also be scooting its bottom on the ground. Tapeworms have a high potential of causing disease in humans.
Worm Treatment For Puppies
It’s important to treat your puppy for worms regularly to break their life cycle and keep your pet safe.
If your puppy has worms, chat with your vet or pet health professional for advice. Worms can infect puppies in many ways, so it is necessary to;
- treat the puppy itself with an allwormer
- reduce the environmental contamination by daily disposal of droppings
- remove tapeworm intermediate hosts eg. fleas
- never allow puppies to feed on offal of any species
Remember to “Repeat and Defeat” intestinal worms with an allwormer like Drontal® regularly. It can be challenging to keep up your worming treatments but with Drontal® treat every 3 months or at the start of each season