Those of you who follow Vetaround on Facebook will know that late last year my family gave me a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy for my birthday.
Of course, it goes without saying that my entire family has fallen in love with our adorable and ‘not-so-little’ Cora, who’s rapidly approaching 20 kg at just 4 months of age.
Despite Cora’s size, she is just like any other puppy; full of boundless energy, naughtiness, curiosity… and, it appears, worms!
Yes, you read that right. Even the vet’s pet can get worms.
So how did Cora come to have worms? And why did I post a photo of her worm-filled stool on Facebook?
Nearly all puppies are born with worms
Did you realise that before you bring your new puppy home there is a pretty high chance that they already have worms?
Puppies become infected with roundworms before they are born because their mother passes the worms to her puppies while they are still inside her. And then once they are born, they can also catch worms by eating larvated eggs from the environment, drinking worm larvae in their mother’s milk or even by eating mice.
This is why your puppy needs to be wormed at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age and then monthly at 3, 4, 5, and 6 months of age. After six months, all dogs need to be wormed every three months for the rest of their lives.
Cora’s worm-filled stool was, in fact, a reassuring sign that the worming process was working. The worming treatment had paralysed and killed the worms, and these worms were then eliminated via her stools.
How can your dog catch worms?
There are many ways your dog can catch worms, which is why lifelong worming treatment is vital to prevent heartworm, as well as all other intestinal parasites: roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm and whipworms.
The routes to infection vary according to the type of worm but include:
- Being bitten by mosquitoes
- Drinking contaminated water
- Ingesting or coming into contact with contaminated soil
- Contact with infected animals
- Puppies catching them from their mother (both before birth and while nursing)
- Coming into contact with or ingesting other infected animal faeces
- Swallowing fleas
- Eating rodents
Why is it so important to prevent your puppy or dog from catching worms?
Worms can not only make your puppy or dog very ill… they can be fatal.
They also can be passed from your beloved pet to your family, causing serious and even life-threatening conditions. These illnesses are called zoonotic illnesses and children are particularly susceptible to them.
The good news is there are many great worming treatments available and all types of worm infestations can be easily prevented using these treatments.
Heartworm is treated differently to other types of intestinal parasites because it is not spread by dog to dog contact, but by mosquitoes. Heartworm is hard to treat and will often kill a dog but it is easy to prevent with an annual injection, which our house call vet can give at the time of your annual check-up.
All of the other intestinal parasites (roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm and whipworms) can be prevented by worming your dogs and cats regularly using worming tablets or chews, or in the form of drops placed onto the back of the animal’s neck.
At Vetaround mobile vet, we recommend you worm puppies and kittens every 2 weeks from birth to around 3 months of age. Then monthly until 6 months of age and then 3 monthly for life in higher risk animals.
How can you tell if your pet has worms?
Aside from seeing them in your puppy or your dog’s stools or vomit, there are other symptoms to keep a lookout for.
Most worms are identified by the presence of their eggs in a dog’s faeces, however these eggs are very small and hard to see. A blood test is needed to confirm the presence of heartworm.
Warning signs can include diarrhoea, vomiting, stunted growth, dry and persistent cough, lethargy, weight loss, dry coat, listlessness or weakness, a distended ‘pot belly’ appearance or your dog scooting its rear across the ground.
If your puppy or dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms or you suspect your pet might have worms, it’s important to receive treatment as soon as possible.
Contact us to find out more.