I love my dog very dearly!
But recently he has been shedding fur. A lot of fur. Like, I go to bed clean and wake up covered in hair that has somehow drifted from the living room, down the hall and through the closed door of the bedroom (his crate is in the living). Hairy morning.
He's a (part) lab and this is his first summer. Between the black fur, the sensitivity to heat (of labs)and a recent flea infestation that FINALLY succumbed to the Frontline (and numerous baths), it's not uncommon for the dog to be shedding, even heavily.
But when I can pinch his fur in fingers and give a brief tug... and the whole clump comes off in my fingers... something is the matter!
I also noticed some white bits in his stool. He often eats grass because he actually thinks he is a goat. (Also, labs are notorious eaters.) I originally thought it to be just grass seed.
Then I thought - What if my dog has worms?
THEN I thought - How the hell would he get worms?
So I took the day off and planned to take him to the semi-retired vet who only charges $20 walk-in fee plus medication. Not bad!
First step - come armed with a stool sample! So I waited for the puppy to pop a squat and went to pick it up with a plastic grocery bag...
Imagine my disgust when those "white bits" I noticed a few days ago turned out to be WORMS. Probably a full inch long, they stretched and bulged amongst his poo.
I quickly wrapped it and headed for the vet...
... only to get there and find the building essentially condemned (WTH?) They were shredding the inside of it, rebuilding and the vet sign had been hollowed out.
"Sick" dog in the car. Wormy poo in a trash bag on the floor of the car...
I went up the street to another vet clinic I knew was there (but undoubtedly more expensive!). Luckily they weren't busy and took me as a walk-in!
The vet suspects poor Ajax has a common lab affliction - Flea Dermatitis. Not only do flea bites itch for him, but he essentially breaks out into hives because he is actually allergic to them. He doesn't bite or scratch much, though I did notice the spots on his skin a long time ago. I figured it was heat rash because it came and went.
But other than that - TAPEWORMS! My poor guy has been eating and all the protein has been sucked up by those little buggers, making his coat brittle and unsustainable :( He should have his nice, soft coat back soon!
Now as I said before - how in the hell did my dog get worms?
I apologized profusely and looked miserable about my dogs worms. The vet took pity on me and explained how he probably got them:
When a dog gets fleas they scratch and bite at them. Sometimes when they bite, they swallow the flea. Fleas carry tiny parasites ON THEM that grow into tapeworms. So just one flea can give a dog tapeworms.
Completely preventing fleas on dogs is a pipe dream. We Frontline him on schedule and he's only ever had one bad break-out (we don't Frontline as often during the winter, and right during the beginning of spring he had his break-out). So a dog getting tapeworms is nothing unusual. I think the medication for it is only a few dollars per tablet.
So the goal is to get his worms cleared up, get him on a (better!) preventative than he was on, and keep lovin' him like we do :)
And before, when I said "sick" dog, here's why:
My dog is a cannonball of energy. Despite the fur loss, the worms, the weight loss from the worms... you would never, ever have guessed he was sick.
I attributed his symptoms to the following:
Fur loss - summer heat. (It was not patchy, just kind of general shedding)
Worms - grass seed in the stool
Weight loss - more active during the summer (we're not talking skin and bones walking around, he lost maybe 5lbs... at 10 months he's over 60lbs (with worms!) and lean)
He is energetic and lively. His eyes are bright, and he will play and run on a moment's notice. He still loved playing frisbee and going for walks at any time! He had normal stool (no diarrhea). So, I don't think it was unusual to have guessed he was fine.
But, I'm glad we got it cleared up, though the medication made him a little drowsy today. My poor wormy wigglebutt will feel better soon :)