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Parasites and Your Puppy

Let's talk about parasites... We start before puppies are born being proactive in trying to prevent or lessen any type of parasite from presenting itself in your puppy. We test and worm the mothers before puppies arrive and worm them again after the puppies have been born. Once puppies are born we will again start being proactive in preventing infestation in our puppies or to do our best to keep an infestation from growing. However, this is not an exact science and sometimes despite our best effort puppies will still contract parasites. When you have several puppies in any given area parasites are unfortunately most likely present no matter how much cleaning you do. We will have fecal done on your puppies at 6 weeks and again at 7 weeks of age, any parasites that present themself in the fecal will be treated before they leave. There are some parasites that can be in the gut but must be shed at the time of a fecal exam to show up, sometimes it takes a stressed event for the parasite to be shed like going to a new home. We do recommend that you continue to have fecal testing done at the remaining vet visits that your puppy will need. Puppies are dirty, gross and just like babies put everything in their mouth, and sometimes no matter how hard you work to bleach, clean, and prevent them from contracting something it is a hopeless effort. We do our best to send you home with a puppy completely clean from and parasite but there are times when things will be missed, this is why we can not guarantee they will be completely parasite-free and encourage you to continue to monitor your puppy for the first few months you have them home. So that all being said let's try to review a few of the most common parasites. 

Parasites are an organism that lives in or on a host organism and thrives at the expense of their host. Puppies are very susceptible to these parasites in general internal and external parasites are EXTREMELY common in puppies if left completely untreated even with treatment some parasites may still slip through treatment that is why it is important to continue treatment for preventative care. 

Internal Parasites: There are numerous internal parasites some non-worm and some worm. However, all of them survive by feeding living, and breeding in your puppy's blood, gi tract, and other areas. 

Roundworms are the most common worm in puppies they are typically long white and hard. These worms present themselves in symptoms like vomiting, coughing, and diarrhea.

Hookworms feed on your puppy's blood by attaching to the intestinal wall. These can be contracted through mother's milk or from the soil symptoms include diarrhea and weight loss. 

Tapeworms are contracted by ingesting a host typically, a flea, symptoms include diarrhea and weight loss.

Heartworms live in the host and are usually contracted through a mosquito bite. These types of worms are EXTREMELY dangerous because they grow in the heart and can clog it. Regular flea preventatives as well are heartworm preventatives are very successful in controlling this.

Whipworms are contracted by licking sniffing or eating contaminated soil. These can be very hard to detect but will sometimes present themself when the stool has mucus in it. 

Giardia is a non-worm internal unicellular parasite. They are not able to be seen by the naked eye. This can be contracted from food, water (even your own tap water can have giardia present) mother's fur while nursing which she can pick up outside. It is very easy to contract and extremely hard to control in kennel situations. Symptoms include diarrhea and weight loss.

Coccidia is a microscopic unicellular parasite that can not be seen with the naked eye. Coccidia can be contracted from the soil or another dog. Symptoms include diarrhea which can be bloody. 

External parasites live on your puppy's fur or skin these include ticks fleas lice and mites. Symptoms can include bad coat and skin irritation. There are several preventatives out there that can be used to prevent these types of infestations.


We work very closely with our vets at Elizabethtown Animal hospital and you will receive complete documentation of all visits, tests, and treatments given. 

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