If you notice something that looks like a thin strand of spaghetti in your puppy's feces when you are picking up after him, it is most likely a roundworm. A small puppy usually contracts the parasite from his mother early in life and may show symptoms as young as 2 weeks old. After leaving his mom, he could get exposed when sniffing or licking an infected dog's feces or anal area. Eggs live for years in the soil, and a pup may ingest them after he's walked there and licked his feet.
The characteristic round puppy belly may look adorable, but it may also indicate a case of roundworms if it does not return to normal size within several hours after eating. He might also experience nausea accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, or may seem a little off. Even if your puppy shows no symptoms, your veterinarian should test a fecal sample to decide whether your puppy has the parasites and, if so, provide a course of treatment based on his age, weight and breed.
If your pup has roundworms, your veterinarian may treat him with pyrantel pamoate wormer. The medication is safe for puppies as young as a week old, as well as safe for pregnant or nursing mothers, but a vet will prescribe it. The youngest pups are prescribed a dose of the medication every two weeks until they are 12 weeks old. Puppies between 3 months and 6 months of age receive an initial dose and a followup two weeks later. Then they'll receive a treatment every four weeks until they're 6 months old, and monthly preventives thereafter. Pyrantel pamoate is the active ingredient in wormers sold under the names Strongid, Heartgard Plus, Nemex and others.
The other treatment option for roundworms in puppies is Panacur C, which has fenbendazole as its active ingredient. You'll be mixing the medicated granules into your pup's moistened food for three days in a row. The medication is safe for puppies more than 6 weeks old and is prescribed at 1 gram of powder for every 10 pounds of body weight. The treatment needs to be repeated in three weeks and again three months later. You'll administer this drug under the direction of a veterinarian.
If your dog spends any time outdoors on walks or in his yard, he'll probably get exposed to roundworms time after time, so a regimen of monthly preventive medication is the best way to keep him from becoming infected. Clean up dog droppings daily to prevent his fecal matter from decaying and transferring the eggs into the soil, where they can survive under extreme conditions for years. If your soil is already infected, turning the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches is the only way to reduce your dog's exposure. Disinfect indoor surfaces with bleach, and wash blankets in hot water to kill eggs that may be in his sleeping area.
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