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Heartworms

This is a disease you want to prevent in your puppy! Puppies should begin a heartworm prevention in most cases by 8 weeks of age. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations.

Why are heartworms bad? The name says it all. These worms can be found in the heart and pulmonary arteries. Sometimes, they dislodge (usually in clumps) and travel through the body to invade the liver, kidneys, and keep vital organs from functioning. A single worm can grow to be 14 inches long.

Unlike other types of parasites, heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes rather than through soil or feces. Diagnosis requires a blood test.

Signs Your Dog May Have Heartworms:

Some dogs show no symptoms, while others show the following symptoms, in no particular order:

  • Coughing

  • Panting

  • Tiring easily

  • Fluid buildup in chest or abdomen

  • Bleeding nose

  • Sudden death

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Intestinal Worms

 

It is vital to treat and prevent intestinal worms in your puppy starting on the first vet visit. The following are some of the intestinal worms (and other intestinal parasites) that we want to eliminate and prevent. Some of these parasites can be transmitted to people although this is less common. Your veterinarian regularly tests fecal samples to ensure your puppy is treated appropriately.

  • Roundworms: Puppies can get these from their mother at birth. Diagnosis requires a fecal sample, and treatment is a simple deworming medication. Failure to treat can cause poor growth and possibly death.

  • Tapeworms: Dogs can become infected with this parasite by eating fleas or ingesting wild animals that have tapeworms. You may be able to see segments of the tapeworm in your dog’s stool, which would look like small bits of rice. Diagnosis requires a fecal sample.

  • Hookworms: These can be found in soil, so it’s easy for dogs and puppies to get these just from going for a walk and then licking their paws. This can also be passed to puppies through their mother’s milk. Diagnosis requires a fecal sample.

  • Whipworms: These can be found in food, water, soil, feces, or the carcasses of wild animals. The eggs can survive for years. These worms can cause inflammation, weight loss, loose stools, and occasionally nutrient deficiencies like anemia. Diagnosis requires a fecal sample.

Other Intestinal Parasites that are not really “worms”:

  • Giardia – an intestinal protozoa that infects dogs through contaminated stool or soil.  Mild infections often cause no symptoms or mild diarrhea. More serious infections can cause severe watery diarrhea, dehydration vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain, and anorexia. Severe disease can lead to death if not treated. Treatment includes antibiotic/dewormer to remove the parasite, and any supportive care needed in addition to treat diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting depending on severity.

  • Coccidia – an intestinal protozoa that causes GI disease in dogs that is transmitted through contaminated soil and water. Giardia causes acute, sudden-onset of foul- smelling diarrhea. Infection may lead to weight loss, chronic intermittent diarrhea, and fatty stool. The stool may range from soft to watery, often has a greenish tinge to it, and occasionally contains blood. Vomiting may occur in some cases. Treatment includes a dewormer and antibiotic, with supportive care for diarrhea and vomiting if severe.

Both diseases can be transmitted to people from infected stool as well as people can also be infected from the environment in the same fashion. Proper hygiene reduces the chances of infection to people significantly.

  • Hookworms are an intestinal parasite that is common in puppies. This parasite can be contracted through contaminated soil or stool. Hookworms attach to the intestinal lining and suck nutrients and blood from the pet, robbing them of essential nutrients. Common symptoms include diarrhea in mild cases. In more severe cases it causes watery diarrhea, dehydration, anemia, lethargy, vomiting, and abdominal pain. If left untreated, life threatening anemia can occur requiring a blood transfusion. This infection can be fatal if left untreated. A simple dewormer is the treatment for mild cases. More severe causes could require additional treatment for diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, anemia.

Intestinal Worms and Symptoms:

There are a variety of intestinal worms that can affect your dog. However, all of them are treatable and rarely cause death. Sometimes, there are no symptoms at all, especially if we find them before they are in large numbers. The following are some of the the signs and symptoms:

  • Vomiting/Diarrhea

  • Scooting

  • Pain in the abdomen

  • Weight loss

  • Dull coat

  • Pot-belly

  • Lethargy

  • Dehydration

  • Anemia (low blood count, pale gums)

  • Intestinal blockage

  • Pneumonia

  • Bloody (bright red or dark purple) stool

  • Worms in stool

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