Veterinarians sometimes ask for stool samples from your puppy. It may seem like an odd request, but it is necessary. Most puppies harbor intestinal parasites, commonly known as worms, which can be dangerous to the health of your puppy, and even your human family. Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms are the most common parasites that affect canines.
You Can't Miss Roundworms
Most puppies are born with roundworm larvae in their tissues. The larvae are microscopic in size, but grow to adults in the small intestine where they feed off of partially digested intestinal contents, robbing the puppy of vital nutrients. A full-grown female roundworm can make 200,000 eggs in only one day. Roundworms affect adult dogs as well, and if left untreated, can cause extreme illness or even death. It is possible to easily see roundworms in stool or vomit without a microscope. Each roundworm is an off-white color and is usually several inches long.
That's Not Confetti
Dogs can become infested with tapeworm by ingesting a flea. When the tapeworm reaches the intestine of the dog, it stays there and can grow to be as long as 6 inches. Sometimes, segments of the tapeworm break off and show up in the dog's stool. The segments can be see with the naked eye and look like whitish grains of rice or confetti. Tapeworm is not as deadly as some internal parasites, but it can make your dog sick and uncomfortable and should be eradicated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Spotted by a Thread
Whipworms are found in dogs of all ages. They usually live in the first section of a dog's large intestine and can lead to dehydration, anemia and weight loss. Adult whipworms are rarely seen in the stool with the naked eye, but when they are, they look like very tiny pieces of thread. Veterinarians usually conduct a fecal flotation procedure on the stool sample, which causes the whipworm eggs to float to the surface of the glass slide.
Get the Microscope
Hookworms are blood-sucking parasites that are especially dangerous to puppies. A severe infestation can cause anemia or even death. Hookworms cannot be seen in feces with the naked eye. However, it is possible to see the eggs in stool with the use of a microscope. The eggs are lumped together in an oval shape and look a lot like tapeworm eggs to the untrained eye.
Karen Schweitzer is a writer and author with 10-plus years of experience. She has written 11 non-fiction books and currently works as a senior editor for Education-Portal.com. In her spare time, she blogs and assists clients with article writing, editing, proofreading and other projects.