Anyone who's ever owned a puppy knows how common, and annoying, worms can be.

These nasty little parasites set up residence inside your precious puppy, usually in the digestive system but sometimes (and more dangerously) they can invade other organs such as the heart. They have the potential to cause all kinds of problems from simple vomiting to serious diseases such as anemia or even death.

Fortunately the prevention and treatment of worms in puppies is pretty straightforward, and usually very effective. There are 5 main types of worms that are usually seen, these are:

Roundworms - Roundworms are the most common kind of puppy worms and many puppies are born with them as an infected mother dog can pass them onto her puppies' in-utero. They can sometimes be seen in your puppy's faeces, and are most often transmitted through contact with the worm eggs or larvae in the contaminated stools.

Roundworms can be passed onto humans, and children are most at risk as they tend to play close to the ground where they can come into contact with infected soil, grass or even the faeces themselves. A child's tendency to put their hands in their mouth, and to be less stringent about personal hygiene makes them an easy target.

A fecal exam performed by your veterinarian can detect the presence of roundworms, and appropriate medications usually cure the problem fairly quickly.

Tapeworms - The most common type of tapeworm is spread by fleas. The worms are usually visible in your puppy's faeces, and look like small grains of white rice. They are generally not easily transmitted to humans but good hygiene is still important.

In addition to any medication your veterinarian may prescribe to treat a tapeworm problem, using a regular, monthly flea and tick preventative is a good way to avoid an recurrence of the infestation.

Whipworms - Whipworms may be more common that generally thought, but they are difficult to detect. If your pup has these parasites he may show few symptoms early on, but regular (and often repeated) fecal exams are necessary to make sure he's whipworm-free and to head off any future problems.

Hookworms - The hookworm is a very, very tiny but still pretty nasty little puppy worm. They do best in warm, moist soil and actually penetrate through your puppy's skin and then travel to his intestines.

Humans can also pick up hookworms in the same way, so it's best not to run around barefoot if your puppy has hookworms. A fecal exam and the appropriate medication is the answer to a hookworm infestation.

Heartworms - Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and they're the most deadly of the puppy worms. Heartworms (as their name suggests), take up residence in your puppy's heart and can cause serious health problems. If left untreated death is likely to follow.

A preventative medication (such as Heartgard), given regularly in strongly recommended as treatment for heartworms is long, complicated, expensive and not always successful.

If you have a new puppy, be sure to have your veterinarian give him, or her, a fecal exam to check for worms at his first check-up. If at anytime you notice worms in your puppy's faeces, or see symptoms that suggest a worm problem, talk to your vet straight away.

And one last recommendation - don't try to treat puppy worms with over-the-counter-medications. They're generally not very effective and can have unwanted, even dangerous, side-effects.

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