There were times when it was believed that the only way worms in dogs were passed on to puppies was through the mother’s system while they were still in the uterus. Whereas this argument still holds true for some types of worms, it has now been established that worms can infest puppies through other means as well.
Worms are intestinal parasites that reside mostly in the small intestines. Worms like tapeworms and roundworms are extremely migratory within a dog’s body, and they are expelled and ingested during different stages of their lifecycle. Infestation can be through ingestion of larvae or eggs of worms or through ingestion of infected intermediate hosts like rodents and mice. Worms are passed through feces, and puppies ingest worms directly from the environment as well. Sometimes the infection can be passed on by contact with the coat of the infected mother.
Worms infect dogs so frequently that it can be safely assumed that all dogs that are not regularly de-wormed would be infested with worms. The prevalence of worms in puppies can be a major problem for dog owners. Symptoms of worms in dogs and puppies vary because puppies are more vulnerable to worms, and the manifestation of their symptoms is more severe than that of grown adult dogs.
Puppies that are infected show signs of a bloated and distended stomach. Despite proper diet, growth can be inhibited in puppies who suffer from parasites. Worms like hookworms are voracious blood suckers and divert nourishment to their own advantage, causing anemia. In fact, anemia is one of the major symptoms of worms in puppies. Serious infections often lead to fits and convulsions with frothing at the mouth. Instead of growing up into strong dogs, infected puppies can waste away and die. Those that survive, grow up misshapen and feeble.
If a puppy is suffering from parasites, his diet can vary drastically. The same pup that devours food in excessive quantities may suddenly start refusing food the next day. He may resort to eating dirt and rubbish.
Other symptoms of worm infections are a hot, dry nose, scaly eruptions, improper bowel movements and colic pains. Infected puppies are lethargic, curl up and do not enjoy playful activities with other puppies of the litter or the owner.
Worms can make life miserable for all puppies. A single roundworm is capable of multiplying in geometric proportions, and if left untreated they can coil up in masses that eventually block the intestinal passages. This can prove fatal in most cases.
Precautionary measures like keeping the environment clean and de-worming medications can help in dealing with this issue and can avoid a fair amount of discomfort for you and your young pup.