Your little puppy is just cute as a bug's ear as he wriggles in your lap. Happy as he may appear, there could be some decidedly uncute hookworms and other parasites wriggling in his intestinal system. Drontal, a prescription canine wormer, can rid your pup of these pests.
Depending on where you and your dog live, the hookworms inside him might be Ancylostoma caninum, the most common type in puppies, Ancylostoma braziliense if you reside between Florida and North Carolina, or Uncinaria stenocephala if you live in the northern part of the United States or Canada. Ancylostoma caninum can pass from a mother to her pups through infected milk. Breeders should worm their female dogs before mating them to ensure they're free of hookworms and keep the mom and pups in well-sanitized areas.
Puppies severely affected with hookworm passed from their mothers may die soon after birth from anemia because of the worms' internal bloodsucking. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual website, surviving littermates develop a certain amount of immunity, showing fewer clinical signs of anemic illness. These signs include diarrhea, especially if the feces appear dark and tarlike. Affected puppies might become dehydrated and weak, and may lose their appetites -- that's always a red flag with babies. Many puppies harbor hookworms without any apparent symptoms. However, if they aren't treated for hookworms, they could suffer from anemia and general debilitation.
Hookworms aren't the only parasites Drontal eliminates. The active ingredient, praziquantel, also does in tapeworms and roundworms, otherwise known as ascarids. All of these worms commonly inhabit puppy innards. Praziquantel effectively causes parasites to disintegrate and pass through the feces. Other brands of praziquantel include Droncit and generic versions.
Drontal includes pyrantel pamoate, a neuromuscular blocker which causes worms to lose their grip inside the puppy's intestines. Drontal Plus include febantel, which kills whipworms. All of these ingredients in Drontal belong to a class of drugs called antihelmintics, killing and/or paralyzing parasites. Your vet detects the various worms in your pup from a stool sample. She might give your pup a Drontal injection or prescribe Drontal in the form of pills or chewable tablets. There's also a liquid version for puppies.
Only puppies 6 weeks of age and older should be given Drontal. Because puppies and dog pick up worms from the environment, worming is necessary on a regular basis. Drontal recommends worming puppies every two weeks from the age of 6 weeks to 3 months, or a total of four times in that period. Ask your vet about a worming protocol for your pup as he grows into adulthood.
Most puppies won't suffer side effects from any of their Drontal treatments, but some puppies might throw up or experience diarrhea. They could also lose their appetite or seem lethargic. These side effects usually disappear on their own within a day, but if they continue, contact your vet.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.