Puppy Parasite Prevention 101

When you get a new puppy, you must get it de-wormed.  So simple.

All puppies will get worms unless they are de-wormed several times about 3 weeks apart.  You can start the worming as early as 2 weeks.  The intestinal worm eggs are passed to the puppies in the mother’s milk.  So even though the mother appears not to have worms, the eggs can be waiting for the perfect environment, aka a puppy’s gut.

You wouldn’t think that a simple parasite or two could be deadly.  So you put off going to the vet to get de-wormer.  Maybe you are confident in your animal husbandry skills, and you know that you can get de-wormer from the feed and seed store, but for some reason, you don’t do it. 

Perhaps you are just plain ignorant.  So you watch your once-active puppy become lethargic, not knowing that the parasites attach to the inside walls of the intestinal tract and drink your puppy’s blood. 

Maybe you become concerned that the puppy seems to be dying.  Or perhaps you don’t, but a friend or neighbor or family member offers to take the puppy to the vet, because another puppy of the litter that your dog had has already died.  And you either don’t care or don’t have the money for a vet visit.


One of the first things that an animal professional does during an exam is to lift the lip of the dog or cat in question and look at the color and condition of the animal’s gums.  It’s a quick flip, and if you are not paying attention, you could miss it.  It seems like such a little thing, and yet it gives you a world of information.

Here’s the short story:  the gums should be a healthy pink.


A young woman brought her puppy, about 10 weeks old, to the veterinarian’s office where I work.  She also brought her friend’s puppy, carried in her arms like a limp rag.  The vet took one look at the limp puppy and said that one was so far gone, that there wasn’t anything he could do.  He attempted to take a temperature with a rectal thermometer, but the puppy’s temperature was so cold that it wouldn’t even register.  I put the puppy in a hot bath in an effort to bring the temp up, but the vet basically said that I was wasting my time.  I did it anyway.

Then I wrapped her up in a warm towel, and held her while the other puppy got an exam. 

The other puppy, the semi-healthy one, had fleas.  The one I held did not, for there was no blood left for them to drink.

Sick puppy. Cannot stand. Eye reflexes almost totally absent.

I offered to keep the puppy, and the young woman who brought her in for someone else called her friend, who declined releasing the puppy to me.  The young woman, who was emotional at this point and near tears, told me that she could just lie to the friend and tell her that the puppy died, and give her to me, and I said that the lie would catch up with us, and that I did not have the authority to seize the puppy, who clearly was almost dead.

White gums, jaws almost locked down, and though you cannot see it here, white tongue. That's pretty far gone, and it didn't happen overnight. This puppy has probably been ill from parasites her whole life, and they took over her body.

This puppy died about 10 minutes after arriving home.  The young woman, who was not the owner, reported that the puppy vomited, then died.

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7 Responses to “Puppy Parasite Prevention 101”

  1. sharon elaine boyd Says:

    So very sad, poor puppy. How tough it must be for you sometimes to just let them go.


  2. Kariann Says:

    Just gut wrenching.


  3. Becky Says:

    I know this is “couldawouldashoulda”, but how old do you think the deceased puppy was? Could you hazard a guess as to how much sooner she should’ve come in to have survived? So sad! 😦


    • ruthrawls Says:

      The deceased puppy was the littermate to the other one that the woman brought in. I see I wasn’t clear, but sometimes it’s like people can see inside my head and know what I’m thinking. You could start deworming at 2-4 weeks, since the eggs hatch out in about 3 weeks. Notice I say “about”.


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