Puppy worms are 'yukky'... but they're also pretty common. Find out about the different types of worms, how they're transmitted plus treatment & prevention options.
These parasites are SO common, that most newborn puppies have at least a few roundworms which they got them from their momma while in the womb, or through her milk when they nursed.
You may actually be able to see worms in your puppy's stools, but in most mild/moderate cases you won't (but there's no need to panic if you do!)
Because puppies often often don't show any symptoms during the early stages of a worm infestation, it's especially important to make sure that your little guy (or girl) is routinely treated with a reliable dog worm medicine several times.
This is often done at the same time as his vaccinations.
Your veterinarian may run a fecal floatation test (to confirm that your pup has worms, and to figure out what type/s they are), or if your puppy is very young and hasn't been dewormed he may just go ahead and treat him with a broad-spectrum de-wormer (ie one that will treat the most common types of worms).
Dog and puppy worms come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they can be transmitted by fleas (Tapeworms), by Mosquitoes (Heartworms), can be found in the soil (Whipworms and Hookworms) and can also be 'caught' by eating other dog's poop!
Your puppy can also end up with a worm infestation from eating raw or uncooked meat or fish.
Some puppy worms can be transmitted to humans too, most often Roundworms, but Hookworms and Tapeworms can also pass from one 'host' to another - usually indirectly through their eggs or from the soil.
The most common types of worms seen in puppies (and even adult dogs) are...... Roundworms, Tapeworms, Whipworms, Hookworms, Heartworms
The good news is that it's easy to treat worms but the bad news is that if left untreated, just a few of them can turn into a major infestation surprisingly quickly... and lead to some serious health problems.
Worms steal all the nutrition that should be going to your puppy. They also multiply and grow rapidly, and a few puppy worms can turn into quite an army in a pretty short space of time!
If you bought your puppy from a responsible breeder they will most likely have started him on a schedule of de-worming several weeks before ago.
Abandoned, neglected or puppy-mill/back-yard-breeder puppies are most likely going to be starting from 'scratch'.
Here's a quick look at the types of puppy worms you're most likely to find.....
These are the most common type of dog worms and are often transmitted from mother to puppy.
In puppies, symptoms of a roundworm problem can include a thin, scrawny (or skinny) appearance but often the puppy also has a round, distended tummy.
A dull, coarse and out-of-condition coat is another sign.
Roundworms can usually be easily seen in your puppy's stools, and if he has a lot of roundworms he may even vomit, cough or have frequent diarrhea.... sometimes even coughing up worms. Not nice!
If proper hygiene isn't followed it's possible that these parasites could be to transmitted to human members of your family. Children are especially susceptible to this as they're not known for their effective hand washing technique!
Make sure that your family always washes their hands after playing with, or handling, your pup.
you can buy over-the-counter worm medicines at many pet stores or
superstores, many of them are ineffective and can even be dangerous. In most cases it's best to have your veterinarian deworm your puppy himself, or prescribe medication for you to administer at home.
However, there are a few medications that kill worms which you can buy and use yourself. One of these that I can recommend using is Panacur C - Canine Dewormer because it's both safe and effective and you don't need a prescription..
Another common type of worm, tapeworm, is spread by fleas. The worms are then shed in your puppy's feces... these are usually in segments which look a lot like single grains of white rice.
If you check
your puppy's poop you will most likely be able to tell whether or not he
However, the definitive test needs to be done at your veterinarians office, where they can prescribe the right medication to fix the problem.
The most common tapeworms are not easily transmitted, or dangerous to, people.
But there is a variety that can cause serious health problems and even death in humans so again, good hygiene is a MUST.
your puppy with an effective topical flea preventative is very
effective in protecting both your puppy, and your family, from this type
of puppy worms.
These are more common in dogs than most people think, perhaps because they're often difficult to detect. Your pup is at risk of catching whipworms if he eats something that's been in contact with contaminated soil or feces.
To treat a case of whipworms effectively, the right medication needs to be given, and then repeated at specific intervals in order to get rid of all the worms who are at different stages of development.
There are four kinds of hookworm and unfortunately the most common one (which prefers a warm climate) is the most dangerous. Transmitted through feces, the hookworm thrives in warm soil and is contracted when the larvae penetrates the skin of it's host (aka your puppy/dog!).
Humans can also contract hookworm so it's best not to walk barefoot in the yard or parks where dogs eliminate.Hookworms can be fatal in young puppies and can cause severe anemia due to internal blood loss, diarrhea or pneumonia in older pups.
veterinarian is the best person to diagnose and treat this parasitic
infection. A regular heartworm preventative such as Heartgard can also
prevent or control a hookworm infestation.
Of all puppy worms, this is the most dangerous. As it's name suggests it isn't an intestinal worm, but one that attacks the heart.... and it's always serious, and often fatal. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes.
As it isn't easy to detect in the early stages, regular tests by your veterinarian (often yearly) for these parasites are recommended.
Treatment for heartworms is long, complicated and expensive so this is definitely a case where prevention is WAY BETTER than the cure. See my Heartworm Prevention page for all the information and advice you need to keep your precious pup safe.
I personally believe in giving your puppy a monthly, preventative medication (such as Heartgard Plus) but you should always check with your own veterinarian before giving your puppy any kind of medication.
TIP: Use a monthly medication such as Frontline Plus or K9 Advantix because by eliminating external parasites such as fleas and ticks you can reduce the chances of your pup getting worms transmitted by these external parasites.
You can learn more about external parasites on my Fleas and Ticks page, and get all the information you need to choose the right flea/tick preventative and treatment on my Flea Medicine For Dogs page.