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Dog Parasites

What Are Dog Parasites and How to Treat Them?

What Are Dog Parasites?

Dog Parasites are organisms that derive nourishment by feeding on or within your puppy or dog. Parasites can be in the form of external or internal and can effect the health of your pet. The most noted internal parasites in dogs are worms, and that is largely because the majority of all puppies acquire intestinal worms either prior to or shortly after birth. Worms are only part of the parasite picture, however, as many non-worm external parasites exist as well. These parasites are called external parasites and include fleas, ticks, lice, and mites.

How Are Dog Parasites Acquired?

1.  Ingestion of eggs. When dogs lick areas where other dogs have defecated.
2.  At birth - puppies are born with intestinal parasites passed by the mother.
3.  From intermediate hosts such as when a dog swallows a flea or eats a rabbit.

How To Treat And Prevent Internal Dog Parasites:

1.  Routine de-worming in puppies and adult dogs.
2.  Yearly fecal checks.
3.  May require fluid therapy, blood transfusions or iron supplementation.


Worms are the Most Common Internal Dog Parasites

Roundworms are active in the intestines of puppies. They are intestinal parasites that mainly trouble puppies that are under three months of age. Older dogs sometimes develop an immunity that prevents roundworm eggs from maturing into adults, however, if these are not taken care of they can affect the next generation of puppies that come from that dog because the eggs will remain dormant in the dog's body. Puppy de-worming medication destroys these, and standard heartworm medications will stop any early infections.

Hookworms are small, thin worms fasten to the wall of the small intestine and suck blood sometimes resulting in severe blood loss. Dogs can get infected by four species of hookworms known as Ancylostoma Brazililiense, Ancylostoma Canium, Uncinaria Stenocephala and Ancylostoma Tubaeforme.

Dogs may get hookworms if they come in contact with the larvae in contaminated soil from infected dogs. As with roundworms, the hookworm larvae becomes an adult in the intestine. Puppies can get infected before they are born from infected mothers. They either contract hookworms in the uterus or through their mother's milk. Severe hookworm infestation can kill puppies or make them severly anemic. Chronic hookworm infection is usually not a problem in the older dog. Diagnosis is made by examining the feces for eggs under a microscope.

    Signs of hookworm infection may include:
    blood loss anemia, bloody diarrhea, pneumonia in puppies, weight loss,     weakness, and pale color.

Whipworms penetrate the small intestine as larvae. They then transfer to the large intestine and they remain there until they mature into adults. Dogs can be infected for 3 months before whipworms can even be detected. The life cycle involves different stages from larval stage in the small intestine, adult stage in the large intestine, and eggs that pass though the feces. Due to the life cycle of these worms, treatment can only be effective if repeated often.

    Signs of whipworms may include:
    diarrhea, weight loss, bloody stools, and abdominal upset.

Tapeworms are parasites usually transmitted by fleas, feces and uncooked animal remains. There are several varieties of this parasite which cause canines no lasting harm. There are a few varieties that produce eggs and that can transfer to humans.

Each tapeworm segment has its own reproductive organs. New segments are continually formed in the neck region while those at the end of the tapeworm are cast off as they mature. These mature segments are really egg packets. Tapeworm segments may often be seen near the anus of the dog or cat. These segments may move if recently passed, or if dried, they look like grains of uncooked rice. Tapeworms have no digestive system themselves but do absorb the dog's nutrients through their skin. Treatment can come from medication, usually purchased from your veternarian, pet stores or from internet pet stores.

Heartworms are mosquito born parasites that can grow into foot long worms that lodge themselves in the right ventricle of the heart. These can cause a lot of damage to the heart as well as the lungs. Untreated heartworms are deadly. Veterinarians can prescribe a heartworm preventative that at the same may prevent roundworms, hookworms and whipworms as well. If left untreated, heartworm disease may result in death. A simple blood test can diagnose heartworm. Heartworm disease can be treated, but treatment is expensive and can be dangerous.

    Signs of heartworm disease include:
    coughing, sluggishness, weight loss, and difficulty breathing.

Heartworm Prevention:
How can you prevent heartworms?
Interceptor or Heartguard Plus are two chewable tablet medications used for heartworm prevention. Interceptor can kill hookworms, whipworms and roundworms, which eliminates the need for separate worming medications and routine fecal examinations. It is important to use Interceptor every month without fail.

Heartworm Detection:
Heartworms can not be detected until about six months after infection, so you never know for sure if puppies already have heartworms when starting on prevention medication. It is safe to wait to perform an initial heartworm test at about fifteen months of age, when rabies and distemper booster vaccinations are given. After that, test every two years to protect against the possibility that a dose was missed, or the medicine didn't work.

Note:  Dogs with heartworm disease ordinarily have adult male and female worms living in the heart, and microscopic baby heartworms throughout the bloodstream. Baby heartworms become adults only after living in a mosquito and then getting into another dog when it is bitten by the mosquito.


Fleas, Ticks, Lice, and Mites are the Most Common External Dog Parasites

Fleas do not transmit disease from dog to another dog or from dog to human. But they are a pest that causes annoyance not just to the dog but the human companion and cat too. Its important to understand that defleaing just the dog is not sufficient to cure your flea situation. The flea lays its eggs in bedding grass, the dog's favorite piece of furniture, carpeting, and in your car, Basically anywhere the dog goes. The flea lays hundreds, possibly thousands of eggs and these eggs hatch in about 8-10 days. It is important to deflea all these areas at the same time you deflea the dog. There are excellent products on the market that can halt these eggs from hatching.

Ear Mites
Ear mites are tiny parasites that live on the surface of the skin lining in the ear canal. They pierce the skin surface to feed, causing inflammation and discomfort. If left untreated, bacterial infections and loss of hearing may result. Dogs with long, floppy ears are more prone to ear mite infections. Since air movement is restricted, promoting infection and bacterial growth. If ear mites are present in a multiple-pet household, it is likely that if one animal is treated, the mites will move to another resident. The best preventive measure is to treat all residents for mites. You should always consult your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

    Warning Signs of ear mites can include:
    Excessive and persistent scratching around the ears.
    The ears are painful to the touch and the pet may cry out in pain.
    Brown material present in the ears.
    A foul-smelling odor.

Please Note:  Always consult your dog's veterinarian before making any dog health care decisions. Your veternarian will be able to help you decide the best course of action when it comes to caring for your dog.

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