Amber and her family took on Nero back in March, when he was an 8 week old pup. They took care to do everything right for him, getting him vaccinated, wormed and treated for fleas. Soon after he’d arrived, he had an upset stomach, with a trace of blood in his droppings, so a visit to the vet was needed. After he’d recovered, he was put onto a long term diet based on chicken and rice: this is ultra-bland and highly digestible, so the hope was that it would protect him from any further digestive disturbances.
Amber had learned that puppies need to be given regular worm doses as they grow older. Dog worms have a clever life cycle: they are passed from mothers to puppies in the milk, and they settle in the pup’s tissues in a cyst-like form, being released continually into the pup’s system. For this reason, puppies are meant to be wormed once a month till they’re six months of age, and then every one to three months for their entire lives. As well as protecting puppies, this is also to protect humans: children can be infected by dog worms, so regular worming of dogs is important for human health. Additionally, a special type of wormer may be needed to protect dogs against other parasites (e.g. lungworm).
Nero was given regular worm doses using top quality broad spectrum wormers from our vet clinic, so Amber was shocked one morning last week when Nero passed some loose droppings on the kitchen floor, and he passed a long wriggling spaghetti-like worm as well. How could this happen? Nero did not seem particularly unwell, but it could not be good for him if there were more worms like that inside him. He was brought back to me for a check up.
another trip to the vet
It’s often the detail of these situations that’s important. I checked the treatment that had been used on Nero. It was a spot-on product that treated him for fleas as well as worms. He’d been prescribed this one month previously, and it was for puppies up to 4kg body weight. When I put him on our electronic scales, I discovered that he’d been growing faster than anyone had anticipated: he now weighed 5.8kg. This meant that the wormer that he’d been given wasn’t quite at the correct dose for a pup of his weight. He had been given enough wormer to make the worms weak enough so that they were ejected from his digestive tract, but not enough wormer to kill them properly.
The answer to the problem was simple: Nero had to be given a bigger dose of medicine that matched his new body weight, and from now on, regular weigh-ins will ensure that his worm doses always keep up with his rapid rate of growth.