How Common Are Worms in Puppies?

 |  Mar 8th 2009  |   2 Contributions


Is there a way to visualy tell the difference
between a healthy 'puppy tummy' and a 6 week old
puppy with worms?

We got a wonderful 6-week-old mixed breed
puppy (named General) on Thursday.
He is energetic, playful, loving and smart (we
started potty training him and he's catching on
quickly).

What concerns my husband and I is that he
has a slightly 'full' looking stomach and his
poo looks sorta mushy, sometime like soft serve
ice cream and others like a tootsie roll that has
been left out in the sun too long, and is a pea
green color.

We have a vet appointment next week
to get him his shots and have our family vet look
General over. It would ease my mind to know the
difference between a healthy puppy tummy and worms
(my husband is worried General has them) and if we
need to get him into the vet sooner.

Thank you,

Kelly
Michigan

Intestinal worms are ubiquitous in puppies. This is because of a characteristic in the roundworm life cycle that allows them to pass through the placenta and through mother's milk. Most puppies are born with worms.

Puppies with worms may have diarrhea or distended abdomens, but many worm-infested canines show no symptoms whatsoever.

The most common intestinal worm in puppies can spread to humans. Children are especially at risk, and the worms can cause serious illness in young people.

Therefore, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommends deworming puppies every 14 days, beginning at two weeks of age and continuing until at least eight weeks of age.

If your puppy has not yet been dewormed (or if you're not sure), then you should talk to your vet to devise an appropriate deworming schedule. I would recommend an absolute minimum of two doses of dewormer, but more may be appropriate.

Stool tests for parasite eggs often yield false negative results, especially in puppies. In other words, dogs and especially puppies with worms may have negative stool tests. Therefore, regardless of stool test results, deworming is recommended. Visual evaluation of the a puppy's abdomen is not a reliable way to diagnose worms.

Remember that General's swollen abdomen isn't necessarily the result of parasites (although I still recommend deworming him). Puppies and kittens often enjoy another cause of abdominal distention: old fashioned gluttony.

Click here for the CAPC's guidelines on worms in dogs and cats. Link is designed for veterinarians.

Finally, I have to say it--thanks for the visual when describing General's bowel movements.

Photo credit: Joel Mills.

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