You must pay particular attention to internal parasite infestations in your puppy. Puppies are more susceptible to certain types of worms, and infection can cause adverse health consequences more quickly than in grown dogs. Some types of worms are relatively easy to treat, while others require veterinary oversight.
The Gentle All-Around
Products containing fenbendazole are available over the counter at your local pet store. Effective for a variety of parasites including roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, some tapeworms and giardia, fenbendazole products are available in liquid, powder or tablet form. Dosage amounts are based on weight, and the product is safe enough for puppies as young as two weeks of age. Effective yet gentle, you may need to treat your puppy several days in a row to break the life cycle of the parasite.
Products containing pyrantel pamoate act upon the nervous system of hookworms and roundworms, causing the teeth, hooks or suckers the worms use to attach themselves to the intestinal walls to relax. Once loosened, the dog can then eliminate the worms through his feces. Although pyrantel pamoate products are available over the counter, correct dosage is imperative and the product is best utilized with the supervision of a veterinarian.
Ungluing the Tapeworm
The most common tapeworm is the one carried by fleas, and dogs become infected when they ingest the host. In addition to effective flea control to prevent tapeworm infestations, products containing praziquantel are effective in their elimination. Normally injected by a veterinarian and available only by prescription, praziquantel reduces the tapeworm's ability to attach to the intestinal wall, allowing the dog's system to flush the worm out with the bowel movement. Safe for use in combination with other parasite treatments, praziquantel should not be given to puppies less than eight weeks of age.
Protecting the Heart
Mature heartworms live in the heart and large blood vessels of the lungs, and pose a serious health risk to the dog. Heartworm infections are unusual in puppies, and a dog normally carries the heartworms for several weeks or months before symptoms become noticeable. Starting your puppy on a good heartworm preventive will not only keep your dog safe from heartworm infection, but many heartworm medications will also kill other internal parasites. Products containing ivermectin, effective in heartworm prevention, were first introduced for parasite control in the 1980s and can be administered by a veterinarian. In certain breeds such as the collie, Shetland sheepdog, English sheepdog and Australian sheepdog, ivermectin can cause an intoxication effect and shouldn't be administered. Milbemycin oxime, known commercially as Interceptor, may offer a suitable alternative for heartworm prevention.
Verifying With the Veterinarian
Some dogs infected with worms will not show any apparent symptoms. If you suspect your puppy has parasitic worms, you should discuss your concerns with your veterinarian. Normally, examination of a stool sample will allow your vet to prescribe a course of treatment suitable for the age, weight and breed of your puppy.