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My puppy has worms; now what? B ringing a new puppy home can be an exciting time that’s full of challenges. Change also is part of welcoming a new puppy into the family. Puppies rely on their owners to meet all of their needs, and it can take weeks for a pup to acclimate to a new home and adapt to a routine. New puppy parents may be surprised to learn their puppy — particularly one rescued from a shelter — has parasitic worms. This is a common occurrence. According to a report published in the journal Animals, the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in shelter dogs is typically higher than in owned dogs. This is due to the combination of daily admissions of dogs from diverse backgrounds and the difficulty of preventing environmental contamination with infectious parasitic developmental stages. Shelters provide favorable conditions for the establishment and spread of GI parasitic infections. Worms are transmitted in various ways, and many result from pups walking through the infected waste of other dogs. Some dogs ingest contaminated feces or develop infections after being in an environment where there is a buildup of waste and poor sanitation. The American Kennel Club says worms also can be passed from an infected mother to her unborn puppies in-utero or through nursing. By and large, worms are not something that should be terribly concerning. With the right treatment and preventative care, most parasitic worms, like roundworms, hookworms, heartworms, and whipworms, can be treated effectively. However, if left untreated, worms can compromise the health of a puppy, potentially contributing to anemia, low weight/poor growth, diarrhea, and inflammation. Some symptoms of worms include: • pot belly appearance • vomiting • coughing • weight loss • diarrhea • abdominal pain • visual confirmation of worms in stool A veterinarian can walk new pet parents through deworming their young dogs. Medications produce results in a matter of hours and will immobilize worms in the digestive tract before they’re soon expelled. It may take a few treatments to get a handle on the problem. In addition, vets will likely want to examine stool samples on an ongoing basis to ensure all immature and fully formed worms are gone. To prevent future outbreaks, clean up pet waste in the yard frequently and administer a monthly heartworm medication with a generalized deworming agent for other parasites. Learn more about worms and new puppy care at www.akc.org. Safely take dogs Why it pays to use for wilderness walks crates when training puppies P uppies make great additions to a household. Parents often find that dogs can teach youngsters lessons about compassion and responsibility, while moms and dads enjoy the companionship and unconditional love their dogs provide. As first-time dog owners learn shortly after bringing their puppies home, pets require a lot of work. That’s especially true of puppies, which must be housebroken so they can learn to live within the structure of a family. Crate training, which is supported by the American Kennel Club, is a great way to teach puppies proper behaviors and to get them to adjust to their new lives. Many dog owners, particularly those who have never before had a dog, may hesitate to employ crates to train their puppies. That’s understandable, as on the surface it can seem cruel or inhumane to confine a living animal to a cage. However, the AKC notes that dogs are den animals that naturally seek out canine caves for security. That’s true whether dog owners provide crates for their puppies or not. So while humans may see crates as cruel, dogs very likely view their crates as secure places where they can go if they get scared or feel skittish. In fact, according to the AKC, dogs’ perception of crates is one reason why dog owners typically find it relatively easy to get their dogs to adjust to crates and ultimately enjoy them. The AKC urges dog owners who plan to crate train their puppies to find appropriatelysized crates before they begin training. Crates should be just large enough for dogs to lie down, stand up and turn around. Dogs won’t embrace crates that are too small, and crates that are too big will give dogs the impression that they can use one corner to defecate and use the rest for sleep or play. That’s the wrong message to send, as dogs should never be encouraged to relieve themselves in their crates. Crate training can be invaluable when welcoming puppies into a home. Learn more at www.akc. org. H iking is a rewarding, healthy activity that can help people connect with nature. Walks in the wilderness also present perfect opportunities to get the family dog out for some fresh air. When walking dogs in wooded areas, pet owners must exercise caution to protect their dogs, themselves and fellow nature lovers. • Confirm leash policies. When walking dogs in public settings, it’s always best to keep them on a leash. Many areas even have laws that mandate dogs be kept on leashes at all times. If you hope to walk a dog offleash, visit the park or wooded area ahead of time or contact your local parks department to determine the laws governing the area. • Recognize the benefits of leashes. Even if you’re not legally obligated to keep the dog on a leash while walking through the woods, the benefits of doing so are numerous. Keeping your dogs on a leash makes it easier for you and your dog to get away if you encounter something unexpected, like a coyote or a bear. It’s also easier to keep your dog on the walking path and out of brush or bushes, where ticks or other bugs might attach themselves to the dog and ultimately put its health in jeopardy. • Apply tick repellant. Even dogs that stay on walking paths in wooded areas are vulnerable to ticks. That vulnerability increases their owners’ susceptibility to ticks as well, as ticks that attach to dogs may eventually bite the dogs’ owners. Flea and tick collars can effectively deter ticks from feasting on dogs. Owners also should apply tick repellant to themselves before entering wooded areas. • Bring water and treats. Hikers bring extra water and food along during a hike to satisfy any hunger pangs they have while walking and to ensure they have some sustenance should they get lost. The same precautionary measures are necessary for dogs. Pack a portable water bowl and extra water for your pooch so the dog does not become dehydrated during the walk. Some healthy, energy-boosting snacks can help dogs withstand lengthy hikes as well. • Recognize signs that the dog needs to turn around and go home. Heavy panting, a slow gait and repeated efforts to lay down are signs that dogs have grown tired. Monitor your dog’s energy levels and turn around or return to your vehicle at the first sign a dog is running out of gas. Wilderness walks provide great opportunities to get dogs exercise and fresh air. Some simple precautionary measures can ensure such walks are enjoyable for everyone.