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The Dangers of Canine Parasites

When you get a puppy, one of the first things that you need to do is make an appointment with the vet to get your new family member his or her vaccinations. Along with any recommended shots, your cuddly canine will probably get a dose of a de-worming formula to rid them of any internal parasites.

Hookworms

Some parasites can be very dangerous to your dog, especially to puppies. For instance, a hookworm (about 1/8" in length) will adhere itself to the small intestine and begin to suck the blood from your pet. It can cause severe anemia, followed by circulatory collapse, severe diarrhea, hemorrhaging, shock and finally death.

Puppies may receive hookworms through the mother's placenta during the gestation period or through the mother's milk when nursing. This is why it is very important that new puppies receive a de-worming formula.

These parasites can also enter an adult dog quite easily when your pet walks over soil that contains any contaminated feces from other animals. In turn, your dog then licks his or her paws and ingests the hookworm larvae. Even without the paw licking the larvae can burrow through the skin and into the dog. Once inside, the larvae migrate to the small intestine where they grow into adult hookworms, usually within 14 days.

A female hookworm will begin to lay eggs... 20,000 of them per day! As you can see, it is vitally important to have your favorite canine de-wormed should they become infested with hookworms. If you see symptoms such as diarrhea, weakness, pale gums, or weight loss, take your canine to the veterinarian immediately for diagnosis and treatment. Diagnosis is usually made through a small stool sample. Treatment consists of an oral or injected medication which kills the adult hookworms, but not the larvae. This treatment needs to be repeated again in 2 to 4 weeks to kill the larvae that have emerged as adults. In cases of severe anemia, your dog may require a blood transfusion.

Roundworms

Roundworms are another common parasite most often found in puppies. The worms are usually heavy-bodied and grow to about 6" in length.

Infection usually occurs as larvae that have lain dormant in an adult female dog are reactivated when the female dog becomes pregnant. The larvae begin to migrate through the placenta to the liver of the fetus. They also will migrate to the mammary glands of the mother, so that the puppies can also become infected while nursing.

The time from roundworm larvae infection to the adult stage is about 27 days. Most roundworms live about 4 months in the puppy and are usually expelled by the natural immune system of the puppy before 6 months of age.

So, if puppies naturally expel these parasites, how do adult dogs end up with them? The adult dog ingests them by eating some food supply that contain the larvae.

Tapeworms

Another very common worm is the tapeworm. This worm lives in the intestines of both dogs and cats. The worm is transmitted by fleas. When a dog or cat has fleas, they will naturally ingest the tapeworm while grooming. The tapeworm then makes its way to the intestine.

There are usually no noticeable symptoms for the most part, although sometimes your dog may show some stomach upsets, diarrhea or just seems somewhat lethargic. You can often tell if your pet has tapeworms by finding small, whitish worm segments that look like small grains of rice under the tail of your pet or on its bedding. Also, you dog may begin "scooting" their rear end along the floor because of irritation. It takes approximately three weeks from the time your dog ingests the flea until you begin to see tapeworm segments.

Although not generally harmful to an animals health, tapeworms are certainly something you'll want to rid your dog of. One of the first treatments for tapeworms is to begin a program of flea control treatment program for your pet and the immediate environment of your house and yard.

Rose Smith is the author and owner of Caring For Canines, a web site that provides information on natural dog health care. Please visit us at: http://www.caringforcanines.com

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