A s the owner of a new puppy, there are many things you need to be aware of in order to keep your pet happy and healthy. Routine medical care is among the most important. A proper deworming protocol, and up to date vaccinations are things you should do in order to give your pup the best chance of living a long and happy life.
A s a puppy, dogs will need 3 separate vaccinations in order to give them maximum protection. The first needle is normally given around 6-8 weeks of age, and the next 2 are the very same and generally given 3-4 weeks after one another. Each time a puppy receives a vaccine, he will get protection from several different diseases. Most ‘puppy shots’ are referred to as DAPP. They protect against the most common serious diseases – Distemper, AdenoVirus, ParaInfluenza and ParvoVirus. Your vet may also offer additional vaccines for diseases which are more prevalent in your area as well, such as CoronaVirus or LeptoSporosis. About 1 week after your pup has had all 3 sets of ‘Puppy Shots’ he will be fully protected from those specific diseases. After that, a once a year vaccine is required for the next few years. Most vets now, will then vaccinate every 3 years as opposed to yearly. If your vet insists on continuing vaccinating yearly, ask them why, as it is accepted as ‘over vaccinating’ by most professionals. If you do not already have a vet with whom you feel comfortable, I encourage you to ‘shop’ around. You will be amazed by the difference in price charged by different vets, and also by the services offered.
V accinating is different from Deworming and will do nothing to prevent parasites. Vaccinating protects against diseases, deworming kills internal parasites that your dog/puppy has. And yes, no matter how sanitary your conditions, or where you live, your dog will have internal parasites, it is NOT a matter of cleanliness.
T he most common external parasites in our area include fleas, ticks and ear mites, and the most common internal include roundworms, tapeworms, Coccidia and Giardia. There is a very good chance that your pup will come in contact with at least some of these parasites sometime in his or her life, as it is very easy for a pup to pick up any of these pests. Fortunately, there are numerous treatments available to prevent and/or eliminate them.
It is important to note that Parasites have highly evolved life cycles that make their total elimination impossible. Dogs and cats (especially puppies and kittens) are routinely infected with internal parasites, sometimes without apparent evidence of the infestation. This means that a pet can have internal parasites even though the fecal sample taken by the vet is negative. Any dog which goes outdoors will occasionally come in contact with parasites. Mother dogs can also pass on these parasites to their babies through nursing.
It is not enough to treat a puppy once for most parasites, as the parasites can be dormant at certain stages of their lifecycle and will survive multiple attempts at eliminating them. They multiply very rapidly, and can re infect your pet if even a few survive. Your pet can also pick up the parasite again very easily, even if you do manage to eliminate it the first time.
M ost dogs get some type of worms. Some worms are more harmful than others, but generally, it is when they are allowed to grow out of control that most worms present a problem. It is recommended by the CDC that puppies be dewormed every 2 weeks until they are 3 months old, then every month after that, in order to control worms in your puppy. We use a very strict schedule to control worms. Our puppies are given dewormer every 14 days from the time they are born, until they go to their new homes. We use 3 different types of dewormer to provide the broadest protection possible. Even by doing so, there may still be a chance that your puppy has worms. It is important to know that internal parasites have very sophisticated life cycles that can make treatment difficult. Some parasites can only be controlled, not eliminated. Please talk to your vet about prevention and control of these parasites when you bring your puppy in for a check up. There are new treatments for internal parasites that are very broad spectrum. They are capable of killing a wide variety of parasites.
I n spite of their prevalence, Tapeworms are not a significant cause of disease in dogs and cats. Most pets do not have any symptoms, and if symptoms are present, are mild in nature. Some pets will itch at their anus when the worms cause irritation as they pass. Most Tapeworms are diagnosed by visualizing the worm in your pet’s feces, crawling around its anus, or in its bedding. Tapeworms segments crawling on your dog's anus might cause scooting, although full anal sacs are a much more common cause of scooting. They come in long attachments that usually break off into individual pieces when they exit from your pet. They usually look like pieces of white rice and turn yellow after they have been out of the body for a while. Several medications are available that are highly effective at ridding you pet of Tapeworms including Lopatol, but they do nothing to prevent your pet from re-infecting itself.
T he life cycle of this parasite almost always ensures that a puppy or a kitten will be exposed at some point in its life. They can get it from their mother while they are in the uterus, during nursing, and through contamination with infected soil. Larval forms of this parasite migrate through internal organs, get coughed up and swallowed, and become mature parasites in the small intestines. Intermediate hosts like rodents can become infected by eating eggs, and can then infect a dog or cat when they are eaten. Some larvae migrate to the tissues of internal organs and remain dormant (where they can not be killed by medications) until pregnancy where they become active and infect the developing puppies in the uterus. Common symptoms are a distended abdomen and diarrhea. Some puppies and kittens will be vomiting, lethargic and not eating well, while others will not show any symptoms. In some cases the Roundworm will be present in your pet's feces or vomit. It looks like a curled up piece of spaghetti. There are several effective treatments for Roundworms (including Strongid T and Panacur). Retreatment is necessary with this parasite because the medication does not kill the larvae, and most pets require several treatments for a full cure. Reinfestation is very likely if the roundworms are present in the local area. Roundworm eggs can remain viable for a long time in the environment. Puppies will get this parasite by eating dirt contaminated with the eggs.
C occidia are not technically a worm, but a protozoan parasite that infect dogs and cats primarily, but can be seen in other species. Coccidia life cycles are complex and involve many stages of development. Coccidia produce cysts instead of larvae and eggs. Dogs and cats usually get the infection from ingesting the cysts commonly found in the environment or eating animals like mice that are already infected. Most pets have, at sometime in their life, come into contact with this parasite, but many pets do not show any symptoms when infected. Symptoms usually occur in young animals and include diarrhea with blood droplets, or mucous. This is especially true in pets that are stressed. If your puppy has come into contact with this parasite, there is a very good chance that symptoms will NOT be present until he/she moves to its new home. This parasite is also referred to as ”Puppy Stress Syndrome” for that very fact. The stress from the change in environment will cause symptoms of Coccidia to appear. Because it is very common, doctors will often treat a pet for Coccidia even though the fecal exam is negative for this parasite. Sulfa type medications (S125 pills) or sulfa and antibiotic combinations are used to affect a cure.
G iardia are also protozoal parasites that live in the small intestines and in many ways, is very similar to Coccidia. Giarida are found every where in the world, with younger animals having a higher rate of infection. This parasite can be found on fecal exams of healthy pets that don't have any symptoms. The cysts remain viable in the environment for months, especially in cool and moist areas. They thrive in clear and cool water, a good reason not to drink running water in the outdoors, no matter how pristine it looks. We have all heard that when vacationing in certain areas of the world, we should not drink the water, and this is one of the reasons why. The cysts are killed by freezing, boiling, and extended contact with disinfectants. In many pets there aren't any symptoms, while in others that do show symptoms, the problem might resolve by itself. The most susceptible pets are puppies and kittens. Diarrhea that occurs can be severe and can be accompanied by poor appetite and dehydration. Vomiting, weight loss and blood in the stool are occasional symptoms. Just like Coccidia, doctors might treat for this disease even on negative fecal samples. Flagyl (Panacur) is the drug routinely used to treat Giardia, although it does not cure all Giardia infections. There is no drug that is 100% effective against Giardia. Once an environment like a lawn is contaminated it can be almost impossible to eliminate this parasite. A vaccine available for dogs is very helpful in persistent infections.