Internal Parasites are an issue for all dogs, not just Labrador Retrievers. From the time you bring your puppy home you should make sure that your puppy and older dogs are protected from all internal parasites. There are several types of parasites or worms as they are called that your dog can get.
Tape worms are the easiest to see. You will notice what looks like moving grains of rice on the dogs stool. You may also find them on the dogs rectal area. Dogs get tapeworms by ingesting fleas, which are the intermediate hosts. Tapeworms survive by attaching themselves to the wall of the intestines and absorbing nutrients. They are not the most serious intestinal parasites, but they can be debilitating. It is best to treat this after flea season starts. If you notice your dog has these then you can get some tapeworm medicine from your veterinarian to control them. Also keeping your dog from getting fleas by applying the once a month flea treatment such as Frontline helps very much to control the tape worms and keep your dog from getting them.
Roundworms are probably the most common parasites, especially in puppies. They are usually passed by the mother in utero. Worming the puppies and then waiting fourteen days again will help control them. Older pups and adults pick up roundworms from sniffing feces of infected dogs. A heavy infestation can be serious but regular stool checkups and yearly checks can keep the problem under control.
Hookworms are a more serious parasite and the signs to look for are bloody diarrhea or a somewhat slimy blood stool. Hookworms eggs are passed in the feces like roundworms. They are very hardy and can live in sand or your soil after the feces have been removed. The eggs hatch in the ground, and the larvae then enter a human or canine through the skin. After they burrow through the skin the larvae migrate to the intestinal tract. Once attached to the intestinal wall, the worms suck the blood. When they leave one site for another, the first site bleeds, which causes the bloody stool. Hookworms are hard to get rid of because once they are in your yard, they can survive a long time. You can use bleach in your dog runs daily and then hose them down with water afterward. Spray the spots where dogs defecate with the bleach and water mixture. Be careful to watch where you walk barefoot because they can be dangerous to humans through the skin.
Whipworms also feed on the blood and live in the large intestine. These eggs shed in the stool and can also live in the soil. Humans can also pick up whipworm from the soil, so wearing protective gloves when working in your garden is recommend for your protection. Mature whips are about two to three inches long, they are thinner at one end and the other end is not much thicker than a thread. They look like a whip. Labs with bad infestations of whipworms can look very thin and debilitated. Their coats will lack luster and they also suffer from bloody diarrhea. Whipworms are not as easy to find as of the other internal parasite because the eggs are not shed in the stool daily. It is recommended to take a stool sample to the vet to check for which worms your dog might have.
Heartworm is the most serious of the internal parasites. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and because warmer climates have longer mosquitoes seasons. That is when you will find more infestations. Detection takes about six months from the time a Lab is bitten until mature heartworms are found in the heart. Female heartworms give birth to live young called, “microfilaria”. These microfilaria are picked up by the secondary host(the mosquito). When the mosquito bites the infected dog, the mosquito picks up some of the microfilaria. The mosquito then bites the dog infecting it. Then it develops into mature heartworms and the cycle continues. You can give your dog a daily or monthly heartworm preventative but you need to make sure that your dog is first not infected beforehand. Dogs that are infected can be treated but the treatment is somewhat dangerous and some dogs don’t survive depending how much they have been infected prior to treatments. The dogs have to be strong enough to survive and live through treatments. His system must absorb the dead worms and then the microfilaria in the bloodstream must also be killed so the cycle can be broken.
The last internal parasite is known as Protozoa or coccidioses or coccidia are what these are called. It is a one-celled animal. Infestations occur when tiny cysts are ingested form contaminated feces. Yes, all dogs and puppies do from time to time eat feces. The cysts get into the lining of the bowel, where they mature. Infestations of this protozoan are very fairly common, especially in a breeder’s kennel. Adult females become the carriers and their litters are born with it. It is detected through a fecal exam and is easily treated with a product called Albon, an intestinal antibiotic. One of the first signs looks like a mucus-like diarrhea. It may have blood sometimes also. Puppies can have runny eyes, nose or coughs. Coccidiosis is more commonly in puppies than adult dogs. It is very important for large kennels not to keep dogs in overcrowded or cold damp conditions to prevent them from getting these parasites.
As with any parasites, preventative is your best protection to keep your Labrador Retriever or any dog happy and healthy so they do not get any internal parasites. Before you give your dog Heartworm medicine it is highly recommended to get your dog checked your veterinarian to make sure he does not have them if you treat him with the medicine before he is checked out you might be harming him more. Once you get him on heartworm preventative, which is usually Heartgard, (Ivemetcin) you can either get it from your vet or you can go to your local feed store that might carry it or you can go online to: http://www.1-800-PetMeds.com and order it from there. Another website you can also order Heartgard from is: http://www.okpet.com. No matter where you decide to purchase it from just make sure that you protect your beloved companion so they will be healthy for years to come.