Parasite Control and an Introduction to the 4Dx Test
There are several intestinal worms that we worry about infecting our puppies - Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms and Tapeworms. Puppies can pick up these parasites from their environment, from ingesting infected rodents, or other wildlife, and also from their mothers before they are born or while nursing. These intestinal parasites can affect growth and development in our puppies but can also be a dangerous zoonotic risk if passed on to humans (especially children)! Therefore we strive to treat and protect puppies from infections through fecal analysis and scheduled deworming. With heavy infections, puppies are generally very sick. However in mild infections, the puppy may be asymptomatic, but still passing on worm eggs in their feces and contaminating the environment, leaving other animals (including humans!) potentially exposed.
Options for treatment and prevention include a combination of:
1) Fecal Analysis - By analyzing your puppy's feces, we can often see signs of a worm infection by finding eggs or larvae in the sample under the microscope. By pin pointing which type of worms may be present, we can assure we are treating with a product that is effective against that particular worm. Drop off a fecal sample at the clinic at any time if you would like us to check your dog's worm status!
2) Treatment with a broad spectrum deworming product - We can treat puppies (especially those where we do not know the history of the mother and environment) as often as every 2 to 4 weeks for the first 6 months of life. Some worm eggs can be very difficult to find under the microscope, and special tests are sometimes needed. Therefore, even if a fecal analysis yields no worm eggs, we often recommend treating anyway, just to be safe.
Heartworm disease is a real risk in our area. It is literally, a worm, transmitted by mosquitos, that grows into an adult in a dog’s heart. This results in an inflammatory response, and can lead to heart failure and death. If a dog gets heartworm disease, the treatment to get rid of the worms can be life-threatening in itself, and it can be quite expensive. Therefore, we always aim to prevent it from occurring in the first place. It is important to remember that the heartworm parasite lingers in the area mainly due to dogs who are not on prevention, and on our wild animals such as foxes and coyotes. Also, because mosquitos often make it indoors, it is still important for dogs who mostly live indoors to be on prevention as well.
Options for prevention include:
- Heartguard (Ivermectin) –Available for dogs, this drug kills immature worms that are present in the blood stream. It is given monthly, starting at the end of May, up to the end of October (6 months). If a dose is missed, it leaves the dog very vulnerable to getting heartworm disease is exposed.
- Pro-heart (moxidectin) – this is a depo drug for dogs. It is slowly released from the injection site over 6 months, killing the immature worms present in the blood stream – it ‘reaches back’ approx. one month. We allow administration of Proheart starting April 15th. To cover the entire season (May to November), it should ideally be administered by May 30th.
- Revolution – Can be used for both cats and dogs as heartworm prevention. Also kills immature heartworms, administered once monthly, starting end of May, for 6 months.
Tick and Flea Protection
Ticks and Fleas infestation prevention is important to prevent the spread of debilitating diseases such as Lyme's disease and tapeworm infections. Many of these diseases can also affect humans. Fleas and ticks can be present year round, but are more common during the warm spring/summer/fall months. Ticks can be very small (especially immature nymph stages) and difficult to see even on close examination, therefore prevention during these months is always recommended, even if it appears that your dog 'never' gets ticks.
Recommended options for protection include:
- Advantix – a monthly spot on treatment for dogs only that ‘repels’ ticks. It is a pesticide and is not suitable for dogs that are in close contact with cats or children. It is toxic to cats, even in small amounts.Puppies should be at least 8 weeks old before using.
- Revolution – a spot on treatment for dogs and cats that kills ticks and fleas when they take a blood meal. That means ticks will still bite and be attached for a short amount of time. Revolution is generally very safe. Puppies should be 6 weeks old before using. For best protection against ticks, Revolution should be applied, starting when ticks first start emerging, every 2 weeks for three treatments, then once monthly.
We do not recommend the use of tick collars, as they are not as effective as the above options, and can result in allergic reactions that need medical attention, and can be very harmful if pieces are ingested.
This is a simple blood test that tests for:
- Heartworm disease
- Exposure to the causative agent of Lyme’s disease
- Exposure to the causative agent of Anaplosmosis
- Exposure to the causative agent of Erlichiosis
In the first year of a puppy’s life, this test may not be needed for heartworm diseases testing depending on when the puppy was born - It is generally recommended that it be done approx. 6 months after the end of heartworm season (which co-incides with the beginning of every heartworm season) for detecting heartworm disease. However, the test can be performed at any age if we are worried about potential exposure and infection with Lyme’s, Anaplasma or Erlichia organisms.