Parasites and Health Care
Parasites - unfortunately all dogs have them
Dogs have worms - that's the common term for most internal parasites. So do horses and cows, but their own specific types. Where do they come from? Mainly from the earth and things that dogs sniff or eat. Leaves may include eggs or larvae. Some may get caught in their coat and be licked off and ingested. As long as they are managed, it is not a problem.
Unmanaged parasites can cause belly aches, reduce the nutrition that makes it to the dog's organs and tissues, can be itchy and just unpleasant for the dog and you. And they pass from one pet to another, maybe even to your children.
The modern approach is to deworm the puppy or dog regularly, test to see how effective the method was and repeat after a period of time.
We were very happy that we saw no evidence of Coccidia or Giardia. Sometimes pups have explosive, smelly diarrhea even the first week - which is horrid and dangerous to treat at such a young age. This time, we have had lovely, healthy, clean pups!
The puppies were dewormed the week of January 22nd, using a product called Pyrantel Pamoate which is safe for pups as young as 2 weeks. It is effective against roundworms and hookworms.
The pups will be dewormed again at 6 weeks of age, about February 13th, with Fenbendazole (Safe Guard or Panacur). This medication is effective against tape worms, round worms, hook worms and whipworms,
Before they head home, I will have fecal samples examined at the vet's and deworm again if any parasites are found.
You vet will likely ask you to bring a fecal sample to the annual check up each year and provide dewormer tablets if required. It's generally not so devastating or difficult in older dogs to manage and treat any parasites.
Weight loss accompanied by a marked increase or decrease in appetite
Distended abdomen, or ‘pot-bellied’ appearance
Diarrhea/chronic soft stools
Dulling of coat and/or hair loss accompanied by skin irritation/inflammation
Rubbing or dragging the hindquarters across the ground
Visible presence of segments of tapeworms attached to the skin and fur around the anus/hindquarters area
Visible presence of roundworms in infected stool, like tiny grains of rice
Ask your vet if you need to worry about heartworm, a serious and potentially fatal disease caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels. It can cause severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body.
In dogs, heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate and produce offspring. Untreated, dogs can accumulate hundreds of worms. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life. Treatment is complicated and difficult so prevention is the best option.
Fleas and ticks and more!
Your dog carries parasites externally as well. And they can be dangerous to them and you. Talk to your vet about the parasites endemic in your area and how best to protect your pets.
You've heard about fleas from those school books but they are really not the big worry anymore. Fleas can bite your pet and cause itching. This in turn can break the barrier of the skin and allow bacteria to penetrate. Then you get a really itching and inflamed dog.
If that's not the worry then what is? It's the less visible, hard to diagnose illnesses that can develop from tick bites. Humans and dogs alike are susceptible to Lyme disease under the right conditions and ticks carry the disease from one host to another.
Specific species of ticks are probably the most worrisome, those causing lyme disease amongst other things. Know how to find ticks, remove them and identify them. You can always put them inside a plastic zip bag and take them into the vet for identification. They will want to know what type of ticks are being found in the area.
Especially after a walk in the woods, brush & comb through the dog's coat. Pay attention to warm moist areas like the groin and arm pits as well as neck. Check children and your hiking buddy as well - necks, ankles and at the hairline.
Finally, if you live in the Southwestern USA, learn about Valley Fever and ask your vet about how to protect your dog and yourself. This fungal infection is breathed into the lungs causing immense harm. It is carried on the wind in tiny dust particles and it makes a dog very sick.