There are fewer things that bring more smiles to the vet clinic than an owner bringing in their new wiggly, happy puppy. It’s an exciting time for families to be adding a new puppy into the mix, but it can also be overwhelming too! We wish we had an hour to sit down with every family that comes in to go over some truly important puppy topics, but unfortunately that reality is not often possible. Because of this, having resources for owners to read, keep and refer back to has become a must for us. We’ve decided to include our top tips and considerations for puppy parasites and prevention for new puppy owners, to help you adapt to owning a new puppy.
Puppies are extremely susceptible to parasitic infections:
While parasite prevention is important in pets of all ages, puppies are particularly susceptible to contracting parasites. They can be infected in the uterus directly from their mother with parasites such as roundworms or via their milk when feeding but they also spend lots of time accidentally getting faecal material from other animals in their mouths. This might be in their pen, at the park, at puppy class, among other places. A large proportion of puppies (even from the best circumstances) have roundworms at birth and should be regularly wormed.
There is not one magical wormer that treats all intestinal parasites:
Check with a vet about which product is right for your puppy. Common wormers will typically cover roundworms and hookworms +/- tapeworms, but won’t cover other intestinal parasites such as coccidia or giardia. Having the vet check a faecal sample in your puppy is also smart to help identify any specific parasites present. This allows for targeted and appropriate worming to be done. Most products intended for regular use such as monthly or quarterly worming come as flavored chewable tablets, making it easier for you to administer and more enjoyable for your puppy to take.
External parasites like fleas don’t discriminate against puppies!
Picking an appropriate flea/tick preventative is also crucial for your pup. Fleas and ticks are not only irritating, but carry a large range of diseases that can affect you and your puppy. Young puppies can become so severely infested with fleas they can become anemic (low red blood cell count). Most flea treatments are safe for use over 8 weeks of age, but be sure to check the product label as there are variations. The majority of these preventatives are made to be given once per month. Again, we have to remember that not all products are created equal. This means that some products come as spot on/topical liquids, some can be oral flavored chewable tablets, and many of them differ in coverage. Checking the product label will tell you which parasites are covered by the drug, and if you ever are unsure, asking your vet will help pick the best product for your pet.
Take home points for puppy parasites and prevention:
Regular parasite prevention is essential for a healthy puppy, and often requires a combination of two products to achieve the desired broad spectrum protection. Be sure you talk to a vet about what your puppy is at risk for to pick the best option for their lifestyle and surrounding risks.
To read more on parasite specifics, check out our blogs on worms, fleas, and ticks.
Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS
For more information about how we can help you keep your pet safe from parasites, fill out a free consultation here