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Internal parasites of various types such as worms can make any dog sick, and potentially lead to serious health problems including anaemia, malnutrition, diarrhoea and even heart and lung problems. This is particularly true of puppies, as they do not build up their immune systems fully until they are older, and puppies are particularly prone to getting worms!
Fortunately, anti-worming medications, which are called anthelmintics, are available to kill and eliminate parasitic worms, and ensure that your puppy stays healthy. However, the delicate digestive systems of puppies may find worming a little discomforting, which can also lead to some short-term mild side effects of this necessary procedure.
Read on to learn more about why we worm puppies, and what to expect from worming.
There are a huge range of potential means of transmission of worms, and puppies are particularly prone to picking them up! Fleas, faeces and contact with other dogs can all lead to your pup developing worms, and if the dam (mother dog) is infected with worms herself, these can be passed onto the puppies before they are even born, or through milk ingested while nursing.
You might not even be aware that your puppy has worms, as not all worms are visible or cause an obvious illness; but worms such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms may be thriving in your pup’s intestines nevertheless!
It is important to treat your puppy immediately if you know that they have worms, and to follow a regular worming regime throughout the dog’s life.
Wormers are not the same as vaccinations; they do not prevent your dog from contracting worms in the first place, or ward off later infections. Wormers work by killing and eliminating worms present within the intestine of your dog, but they will remain at risk of picking up worms again in the future, which is why regular worming is so important!
There are a great many options available to worm dogs and puppies, from low-cost wormers that you can buy in the supermarket to professional products that will be offered for sale by your vet, or even over the counter in human pharmacies.
You should steer clear of supermarket and pet shop worming products, as not only are these poorly effective, but they are also much more likely to make your puppy sick. Buying a professional standard wormer from a pharmacy or preferably, your vet, is the best way to protect your puppy against worms.
Wormers come in many different formats too, so you have a lot of options for finding a good fit for your own pup. Powders, pills and spot-on treatments are common, but you can also get liquid wormers and sometimes, injectable wormers (administered by your vet) too. These wormers all work to eliminate worms from your puppy’s intestines, so that they are passed out naturally in the faeces and any eggs are also killed before they can grow to maturity.
It is important to follow the instructions supplied with your wormers, and to pick the right wormer for the size and age of your dog. Your vet will be able to work these things out for you, and advise you on what type of wormer to buy. Very young puppies, those still nursing and puppies that are not thriving are often unsuitable for most common wormers, so never administer a broad-spectrum wormer or buy something over the counter to use without consulting your vet first.
Different wormers work in different ways; some wormers literally dissolve the worms present within your pup’s intestine, while others kill them internally so that the body eliminates them. Often, worms are attached to the intestinal walls of your pup, and so some wormers work by paralysing the worms so that they detach from the intestinal wall and are eliminated.
After the wormers have done their job within your pup’s system, the worms will be shed naturally within the faeces. Depending on the type of worms that your pup had, you might not be able to see them, and this does not mean that your puppy was worm-free or that worming was ineffective. Sometimes you may be able to see larger worms in the stools; tapeworms and roundworms are particularly noticeable.
Most dogs and puppies do not suffer from any side effects of worming, but in some cases, worming might potentially make your pup mildly sick for a day or two. Mild diarrhoea and/or vomiting, a slight loss of appetite and generally being a little lethargic for a day or two is perfectly normal, and nothing to worry about.
However, if you have any concerns about your pup after worming, or they appear to be very sick as a result of worming, speak to your vet to address any concerns.
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