Severe worm burden in “Maverick”

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Jeremy Jones received a phone call from a distressed owner asking for advice in regards to her eight-week-old puppy who had persistent diarrhoea.  She had recently purchased the puppy from a local pet store. It was lucky we were able to determine what was wrong with the puppy, it had a severe case of worms, which if went untreated, the puppy would have died.

We discussed Maverick’s recent history in detail to determine what might be the cause of the diarrhoea.  His owner explained that when she first chose her new pup-to-be on the Wednesday prior to her taking her home, she had noted Maverick had had some diarrhoea. The store manager explained they had received a litter of pups that were infected with worms so all the puppies in the store were re-wormed.  The manager explained the worming could cause diarrhoea if a pup had a worm burden.  The store manager also provided the paperwork that indicated the puppy had been wormed on 2nd October.  We discussed that the worms should be under control and other causes of diarrhoea were discussed.

On the morning of Monday 14th October, Jeremy again received a call from a very tired and concerned owner.  Her little pup was weak and exhausted and had been up vomiting and having diarrhoea most of the night. We advised an immediate check and two minutes into little Mavericks’ examination, he vomited up a live round worm. It was close to 10 cm long, very much alive and curling up in the vomited material. Maverick vomited several times during the consult, so a decision was made to hospitalize little Maverick, stop the vomiting using medication and worm him with a known effective tablet. Maverick made a good recovery and was discharged home overnight.

The next morning, although better, Maverick was starting to dehydrate again. The vomiting had stopped, but the diarrhoea had persisted several times over night. Blood tests were run, which showed he was anaemic and had very low blood protein. These effects are common in puppies with severe worm burdens. Maverick was again hospitalized for the day and placed on intravenous fluids (a “drip”) and was able to hold down numerous small meals throughout the day.  That night the owners had to clean up multiple diarrhoea patches containing large round worms, luckily these worms were dead.

We now expect Maverick to make a full recovery, although it may take some time. His intestines need time to recover to allow proper absorption of digested food and then hopefully his blood protein will increase and he will be able to put on weight.

Looking back, it is clear that at no time in Mavericks recent history had he received an effective worm treatment. It would appear as though the several treatments given to Maverick were either of a poor quality that were ineffective, or the worming preparation was inappropriately administered, or not given at all.

Further information:

Roundworms in dogs can be obtained as a puppy transplacentally from the mother. Tissue migration of the immature forms can lead to hepatic fibrosis (liver scarring) and significant pulmonary lesions. Unfortunately the worms can cause problems in humans too and children are at risk as they tend to ingest the ova through contaminated soil, unwashed hands or in contaminated food.

There are severe forms of disease in humans including visceral larval migrans (damage and inflammation to internal organs from migrating worm larvae) and ocular larval migrans (lesions in the eye) are the two most common forms, and neurological conditions can arise if the visceral larval migrans affect the central nervous system.