Even a healthy appearing puppy can have some form of parasite. When you get a new puppy, it’s always a good idea to have a fecal exam done by your vet, even if the puppy just had one by the breeder’s vet. We do all we can to prevent worms, and pups are on a strict dewormer schedule. However, Stress is opportunity for parasites to become more evident. And going to a new home is definitely stressful. If your pup gets loose runny stools or even diarrhea, you should call your vet right away. Puppies are so tiny that loose stools and diarrhea can can cause dehydration quickly and that is a very serious problem.
Coccidia is not a worm. It is a microscopic internal parasite (protozoan). Coccidia can be stress-related. A puppy may have a negative fecal check result from a vet, appear perfectly fine, but show evidence of coccidia as soon as he goes to a new home. Albon, the prescription medication for coccidia, doesn’t actually kill it. It washes the puppy’s digestive tract, taking the coccidia with it. It’s the puppy’s own immune system that eventually will kill any remaining coccidia. A young puppy’s immune system is not fully developed, so it takes time for the puppy and it’s immune system to mature. Most adult dogs have coccidia, but they also have the antibodies to fight and control it. A puppy with coccidia that is not well cared for and not treated will eventually develop watery diarrhea and can dehydrate quickly! This is when coccidia can become a serious condition – the coccidia replicates unchecked, and the puppy can become very ill and die. I give all my puppies Ponazuril (Marquis) that will prevent you from having problems with Coccidia.
Puppies can also get Giardia. This parasite is normally in the ground. Puppies raised in disinfected cages and concrete runs may not be exposed but puppies raised here on the real ground often are. This common parasite is sometimes difficult to diagnose. It would probably not be detected by a vet using the normal “floatation” method of fecal screening. The “Snap test” tells if the puppy has been exposed to Giardia. My puppies snap test may show that they have been exposed, but they should not be having symptoms. It can cause periodic diarrhea and loss of appetite; a puppy with severe giardia is likely to die if very young and left untreated for 3-4 days. You should have no worries about the giardia if you give the Panacur as directed that I send along with your new puppy for giardia prevention. If your puppy has a positive test, and your vet wants to increase the dosage of Panacur, follow his/her instructions. Some vets like to treat the puppy even if the puppy is asymptomatic. That is fine. The med will not hurt your puppy.
Roundworms are more common but you will not see them in your puppy’s stool. Regular treatment with Safeguard/Panacur will prevent these. The only time you are able to see these spaghetti-like worms are if you treat your puppy/dog for them, then they come out in the stool.