Bringing a new puppy home can be an exciting time that’s full of challenges. Change also is part of welcoming a new puppy into the family.
Puppies rely on their owners to meet all of their needs, and it can take weeks for a pup to acclimate to a new home and adapt to a routine.
New puppy parents may be surprised to learn their puppy – particularly one rescued from a shelter – has parasitic worms. This is a common occurrence. According to a report published in the journal Animals, the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in shelter dogs is typically higher than in owned dogs. This is due to the combination of daily admissions of dogs from diverse backgrounds and the difficulty of preventing environmental contamination with infectious parasitic developmental stages. Shelters provide favorable conditions for the establishment and spread of GI parasitic infections.
Worms are transmitted in various ways, and many result from pups walking through the infected waste of other dogs. Some dogs ingest contaminated feces or develop infections after being in an environment where there is a buildup of waste and poor sanitation. The American Kennel Club says worms also can be passed from an infected mother to her unborn puppies in-utero or through nursing.
By and large, worms are not something that should be terribly concerning. With the right treatment and preventative care, most parasitic worms, like roundworms, hookworms, heartworms, and whipworms, can be treated effectively. However, if left untreated, worms can compromise the health of a puppy, potentially contributing to anemia, low weight/ poor growth, diarrhea, and inflammation.
Some symptoms of worms include:
• pot belly appearance
• weight loss
• abdominal pain
• visual confirmation of
worms in stool
A veterinarian can walk new pet parents through deworming their young dogs. Medications produce results in a matter of hours and will immobilize worms in the digestive tract before they’re soon expelled. It may take a few treatments to get a handle on the problem. In addition, vets will likely want to examine stool samples on an ongoing basis to ensure all immature and fully formed worms are gone.
To prevent future outbreaks, clean up pet waste in the yard frequently and administer a monthly heartworm medication with a generalized deworming agent for other parasites.
Learn more about worms and new puppy care at www.akc.org