Parasites are organisms that thrive on host animals and are a serious problem for puppies. Internal parasites are a common cause of gastrointestinal issues in pets. Unlike external parasites such as ticks and fleas, internal parasites can be present without pet parents realizing it.
Pet owners need to understand parasites and know how to keep them from causing problems. If you have just adopted a new puppy, you should do all you can to ensure your furry friend is happy and healthy.
Understanding Canine Parasites
Many puppies are infected with parasites before or shortly after birth, often during the nursing period. They usually require deworming shortly after birth. All dogs are likely to become infected at some time during their lifetime.
If not treated, parasites can cause severe respiratory, gastrointestinal, and immune system diseases. Parasites affect puppies, ranging from mild irritation to causing life-threatening illnesses. Apart from making pets sick, parasites can also affect humans.
Internal and External Parasites
Internal parasites live inside the animal, in the bloodstream or intestine. They are usually spread through the mother's uterus or milk, stool, and contact with infected animals. The most common parasites include hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms, coccidia, and Giardia.
External parasites live on the coat or skin of the puppy. Contagion usually occurs through contact with infected animals. Common external parasites are ticks and fleas.
Symptoms of Intestinal Parasites
Symptoms of parasites depend on the type of parasite. Common symptoms of internal parasites include:
Fatigue and lethargy
Malnutrition and deficiencies
Blood in the stool
Symptoms of external parasites include:
Itching and scratching
Loss of fur
Red skin patches
Bumpy red bites
In many cases, dogs do not show symptoms of parasite infection until it is severe. Some initial symptoms are often attributed to other health problems. Heartworms usually affect the cardiovascular system, causing respiratory issues, coughing, weight loss, weak pulse, and eventually death. It is crucial to administer treatment as soon as possible to protect your puppy.
Factors That Lead to Parasite Infections
Some factors contribute to the presence of parasites. They include geographical location, weather, exposure to livestock, wild animals, and living conditions. A vet can help identify common parasites in your location.
You can protect your pet from parasites by keeping your outdoor areas as clean as possible and removing stool immediately. Keep your puppy's bowls clean, provide fresh water, and clean hair, dirt, and stool left by other animals.
Parasite Prevention and Treatment
Parasite prevention is the best way to keep your pet healthy. Monthly heartworm medications can help protect against other intestinal parasites. If not treated, parasites can cause life-threatening illnesses.
Some treatments help prevent most side effects. Your vet can recommend the best treatment depending on your pet's condition. Spotting the signs of infection early is vital. Look out for changes in appetite, eating habits, and behavior. You should also take note of changes in the puppy's stools. Annual checkups are vital for ensuring your puppy is healthy.
For more about puppy parasites and what to know, contact Highland Veterinary Clinic at our Evansville, Indiana office. Call 812-710-4300 to schedule an appointment today.