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Parasites, Worms, Heartworm -
a must read for all pet owners

Routine worm checks (a fecal test at your Vets office, along with a Heartworm test)  are one of the simplest ways you can prevent problems in your Sheltie.   Worms and Parasites can and do cause big trouble in Shelties...... and usually there are NO symptoms.

         Heartworm--  a silent killer

Unless your dog lives in a glass bubble....he can get heartworm.   Heartworm if left untreated will kill your dog.   Its that simple.  Treatment to kill heartworm in an infected dog can be VERY expensive often running into the thousands of dollars.

Fortunately, monthly medicine only available from your Vet, will protect your dog from getting Heartworm.    There is no excuse anymore for any dog to get Heartworm. 

Heartworms are spread by Mosquitos.   One bite from a mosquito could infect your dog with heartworms.   This is the only way they are spread.   Once inside your dog, they migrate to the heart and they reproduce and grow.  The adult Heartworms can grow quite large, completely filling and blocking (primarily the right ventricle) of the heart and killing the dog.    Only when the infection is bad enough will you start to notice symptoms of coughing,  fatigue,  labored breathing...etc.

Remember.....there are no symptoms of Heartworm until the very end......when it is often too late.


          Intestinal worms  -- Whips, Hooks, Roundworm, Tapeworm........

Many people think that if a dog has worms, you would notice them, right?    Wrong!!

The only thing that all worms have in common is that they are harmful to your dog, and most have no symptoms early on.

For the most part…you will NOT notice anything in the stool.  Of all the many kinds of worms dogs can get,  there are only 2 kinds that are visible in the stool…. And that is only once the intestines are so full of worms, that some must exit when stool passes.   Otherwise you will not see them. Roundworm and Tapeworm are only sometimes visible if the infestation is heavy enough.   Often, a Roundworm infestation will be so great that the dog will vomit up live worms. 
Roundworms are probably the most commonly seen worm.  Puppies are almost always born with them, and MUST be wormed early on..... or they can die.  Roundworms look like spaghetti noodles (only thinner)   Roundworms eggs are passed through infected feces on the ground. (Or from Momma to baby)    They can be anywhere, without you knowing it.  Roundworms will cause no symptoms, other than a generally not-so-healthy looking dog.  Only when the infestation is heavy enough will some roundworms pass with the stool.   Otherwise, you will not see them.

Hookworm`s will have no symptoms early on.  However later on, the dog may get a cough or the dog will develop pneumonia as the larvae migrate through the lungs. The only way to know if your dog has Hookworms is a fecal test at your Vets.  

Whipworms will show no symptoms until the infection is heavy.   Once the infection is high enough, you may see a bloody, gooey diarrhea.   A fecal test at your Vets office will tell you if your dog has Whips.

Tapeworms are a bit different in they are spread through Flea's.   One Flea bite is all it takes for Tapeworm to take hold in your dog.   Tapeworm infected dogs may have a greater appetite, as the tapeworms feeds first, and the dog gets whatever nutrition is left.   Any dog that gets bit by even one Flea, needs to be checked for and treated for Tapeworm.   Tapeworm is difficult to detect, even with a fecal test.

A note about De-Worming medicine.   There is no one medicine that will kill all types of worms.   You must know what kind of worm you are treating.   This is why it is so important to have your dog tested with your Vet.

Other kinds of parasites are also a common problem in dogs and may have no symptoms, or sometimes in later stages will present themselves as diarrhea.  If you have rabbits or birds, or stray dogs in your yard Coccidia is a concern.  Lake or streams nearby....Giardia is a concern.  Again, a fecal test at your vet is the only way to diagnose this.

Intestinal worms are able to be passed to humans via contact (with even the smallest spec)  of stool from an infected dog.   Dog steps in poop,  runs most of it off in the grass….but still carries some of the worm eggs on its feet.  Comes in the house and interacts with people.   It happens.    This is why yearly or twice yearly you should have your Vet check the dogs stool. 

So.... to sum it up.   Here is a list of symptoms that worms/parasites can cause if left untreated long enough........

    Bloody stools
    Dull, not healthy looking coat
    Heart Failure
    Increased Appetite
    Decreased Appetite
    General Not-Feeling-Well

    Be safe.   Have your dog tested regularly and talk to your Vet about a monthly prevention program.
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