Most puppies have worms when they are born, that they contracted from their mother. Fleas and worms are another health concern that can cause a variety of problems. New puppy owners have to deal with this as both part of their puppy's care and the duration of their dogs' life. Worms are nasty parasites that usually live in a puppy's digestive system, but some do invade the heart or other organs. Puppies experience problems ranging from anemia and vomiting or, in the case of heartworm, even death if left untreated. After a veterinarian identifies the problem, treatment is normally very effective and straightforward.
Spread by fleas, tapeworm is a very common type of worm found in puppies. These segmented, flat worms absorb nutrients through the skin by hooking its teeth into the puppy's intestine. You find segments of the tapeworm that breaks off and looks like rice or sawdust-like flakes (which actually contain thousands of tapeworm eggs) in the puppy's feces, or the hair around its anus. Several veterinary products kill the tapeworm effectively in one or two treatments.
A very tiny worm, the hookworm is a nasty creature that travels to the puppy's intestine by penetrating its skin. Diagnosed by a fecal exam, prescribed medication will soon cure the problem.
Roundworms are spaghetti-like worms that mothers can pass on to their unborn puppies. These worms are able to live in a cyst stage outside the puppy's body. Children and adults can become infected with roundworms if they encounter infected feces or soil. Children are at higher risk, because they are more likely to put their hands near their mouth and after playing with the puppy, should wash their hands. To detect roundworm in your puppy, it is necessary to have a fecal examination done by your veterinarian. If infected, the vet will prescribe medication that cures the problem rapidly.
The most serious and deadly of all are heartworms, which mosquitoes transmit. These nasty worms live in the heart and arteries of a puppy's lungs. Common symptoms of heartworm are difficulty breathing, a cough, and vomiting. There are a few treatments available for a puppy infected with heartworm, but prevention is certainly the best way to keep your puppy healthy. There are topical and oral drugs available, that effectively prevent this disease. Heartworm screening is necessary for all puppies and dogs.
Fleas are a common problem that cause your puppy discomfort and can cause anemia, tapeworms or other diseases. Owners should inspect their puppies regularly for fleas or signs of fleas, such as flea dirt or intermittent biting and scratching. Flea dirt or excrement looks like very tiny dark specks. Flea and tick products are available through a veterinarian, in either oral or topical form.
Other Puppy Health Issues
There are several types of genetic conditions or canine inherited disorders found in both purebred and mixed breed puppies. Parents pass the hereditary condition on to the puppies through genetic material or DNA. Although some are fatal, medical interventions, drug therapies, or other treatments control many genetic conditions. Many conditions go undetected until the puppy is more than a year old.
Diabetes. In puppies with diabetes, the puppy's body does not regulate the insulin properly. A controlled diet or insulin therapy helps control diabetes.
Von Willebrand's disease is a hereditary hemophilia-type blood disorder. The puppy's blood lacks the necessary clotting agencies to stop a wound or incision from bleeding. Common to most breeds and groups of dog, it is not usually fatal unless an untreated or severe injury occurs. Veterinarians often use of a blood clotting medication when bleeding occurs.
Corneal dystrophy. A genetic disease, corneal dystrophy affects the cornea of dogs' eyes and varies in degree. Selective breeding is the only way to reduce this genetic condition.
Neurological disorders in puppies and dogs can affect the neuromuscular system, spinal cord and brain.
Epilepsy is one of the most common of all neurological disorders and causes the dog to have repeated seizures. In some breeds, epilepsy occurs more frequently. Some dogs have seizures regularly while others have them occasionally or when triggered by specific events. The majority of seizures are of short duration and using proper treatment, helps control these. Along with genetics, strokes and head injuries could cause epilepsy.
Hydrocephalus in dogs is a neurological disease, which causes a build-up of excessive cerebrospinal fluid within the brain's ventricular system. Some of the diagnostic tests performed by the veterinarian include a physical examination, laboratory work, neurological assessment, skull radiographs, magnetic resonance or computed tomography imaging, and a spinal tap. There are several different treatments such as shunt surgery, drugs, and antibiotic therapy.
Dehydration. If you suspect your puppy is dehydrated, a veterinarian should examine your pet as early as possible and treat him promptly. Preventing dehydration if your puppy is sick can be difficult, so the sooner the veterinarian starts treatment the better your puppy's chance of recovery. To pinpoint the underlying cause, a blood protein and packed cell volume test helps reveal the presence of dehydration, and urine density helps determine if the dehydration has affected the kidneys. A biochemistry profile and blood count helps find the cause. The treatment for a dehydrated puppy is usually a slow fluid replacement administered through intravenous while the puppy remains hospitalized. The reason the veterinarian replaces the fluids slowly is for the puppy's body to compensate and replenish fluid-starved tissues. It is critical to follow all veterinarian instructions with regards to dehydration or any other puppy health condition. Never try treating the puppy with human medications, there are often very serious complications in using human drugs with dogs.
Caring for the puppy and getting immediate health support from your vet is critical to early detection and treatment of any possible health concerns. Since puppies are so small and often don't have their immunity systems well developed, even a slight health risk can be very serious. Carefully monitor the puppy, and always note any changes in eating or behavior, as often the signs are rather subtle and not overtly obvious. By the time that very noticeable signs are obvious the condition is usually severe, resulting a lengthier treatment and recovery time.
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