Internal Parasites

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There are several types of internal parasites that you vet may diagnose. You should take in a stool sample (use a baggie and a plastic spoon to collect it) on your puppy during each puppy visit. The most common types of internal parasites are:

Roundworms: Very common in puppies. Puppies pick up the eggs of roundworms when they nurse off their mother. Once ingested these eggs start the life cycle in their new host: your puppy. Because dewormers do generally not kill the eggs, it will take several dewormings, spaced and times just right, to eliminate them. Roundworms are not commonly seen in the stool until the puppy is given a dewormer. Once dewormed, the puppy will generally pass the worms out of the stool. Roundworms can be very large but often look like spaghetti when they are passed out in the stool.

Hookworms: Again, common in puppies and picked up from the mother. Hookworms can be picked up through the skin (usually the pads of the feet) and migrate to the intestines. This makes them a little harder to get rid of, but as long as you stick to the schedule your vet sets aside for your pup, you should get through it with little problems. In severe cases, hookworms will cause blood in the stool, sometimes very severe. Hookworms are much more dangerous to your puppy, so be sure to take a stool sample in with you on each vet visit.

Tapeworms: These gross people out more than anything, but are the most harmless of internal parasites. Tapeworms are spread through fleas… if your puppy has tapeworms he most certainly had a flea infestation at one time. Tapeworms can not easily be detected in a microscopic exam at your vet’s office. Furthermore, the medicine used to treat tapes is not the type used to take care of hooks and rounds. So don’t blame your vet if your puppy is dewormed and later you see small “rice-like” worm segments pass out in your puppy’s stool. These “worms” seen on the stool are not worms at all, but tiny pockets full of eggs. If you see these rice-sized segments on your puppy’s stool, let your vet know.

Giardia: This poses the highest risk you, your puppy, and your family. It usually is picked up in the worst puppy mill situation, with dirty water and feces-filled cages. It is tough to see under the microscope, so your vet depends on you to alert him if your puppy is not doing well. Giardia is usually categories by a “projectile diarrhea” that often has a green tinge to it. The stool is generally very watery with little or no substance at all. Do your best to wipe it up with a paper towel and put the whole paper towel in a baggie and take it to your vet. You must wash your hands very well and clean and bleach the puppy’s water and food dishes. Keep your children away from your puppy until the vet has given him the green light.

In general, internal parasites are common in puppies, and most are easily treatable. You should have two negative fecal exams in a row to be sure that the parasites are gone. Usually, fecals are done 7-10 days apart from each other.

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