Dog Parasites: Heartworm, Fleas, and Other Dog Parasites – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment (6 Articles)

dog parasites

Last Updated on January 19, 2023 by Kunthida

Heartworm, Fleas, and Other Types of Dog Parasites

Dog parasites need to be eliminated by following appropriate medications. Many products have come up in the commercial fields to protect the dogs from heartworms, fleas, and other dog parasites like hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, lice, ticks, etc.

Among all of them, fleas produce hypersensitive reactions in the affected animals. Hence, the animals infected with fleas start severely scratching of bodies. Many times, the scratching is so severe and the skin becomes more hyperemic and dermatitis occurs in the affected areas.

The animal will not lie down or sleep comfortably due to the constant bites by the fleas. Hence, the animal looks as if affected by some severe skin disease. If the animal is not properly attended for this tick bite problem, there will be often secondary bacterial invasions in these sites and there may even be a bad smell emanating from the skin areas.

Close observation of the dog is highly essential to rule out the occurrence of fleas disturbing the animal to a greater extent. Similarly, the skin of the animal needs to be tested for the presence of ticks, lice, etc. For this, the hair materials need to be separated and close observation with patience is required for the proper diagnosis.

In many incidences, if anemia is present, the blood protozoa need to be ruled out in addition to the hookworm problems. The clinical problems like anemia, loose motion, potbelly, etc. might be recognized by the dog owners themselves and however, the dog needs to undergo a routine health-related examination involving fecal examination, hematological examination, and blood smear examination.

Many commercial products have come up in the market, which is useful to deal with all these conditions by a single dose. Drugs like ivermectin are highly useful and are available in both injection and oral form in addition to the solution form that can be applied on the skin. These drugs in dogs can lead to the prophylaxis of these conditions also.

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Dog Intestinal Parasites

Dogs often fall victim to several common intestinal parasites known as worms. There are a large number of different types of intestinal worms, but dogs are most commonly affected by tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms.

These dog parasites live in the digestive tract (most commonly in the intestines) where they feed on nutrients, robbing the dog of the nutrition it takes in. Worm infestations can cause a variety of undesirable symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and a generally poor appearance.

How do Dogs Get Worms?

There are a number of ways that a dog can wind up with an infestation of any of these types of intestinal parasites. An animal infected with any of these types of worms may pass the worms’ eggs in its feces. This is a strong argument for picking up after your pet as often as possible and not allowing your dog to eat feces (something dogs will do) whenever you can.

Tapeworm eggs can be spread by fleas. Fleas eat the eggs (quite a delicacy to a flea) and then pass them to a dog when biting it. Some roundworms will lie dormant in the body of a pregnant dog and activate just before it gives birth. The activated worms make their way into the intestines of the unborn puppies where they will thrive after the pups are born.

Detecting Worms in Dogs

Worm infestations can be difficult to detect. While some worms may be passed in the feces, betraying their presence, it is uncommon. If a dog is displaying dog parasites symptoms that may indicate the presence of worms, a vet should be consulted. A stool sample will be examined for the presence of worm eggs (these are microscopic) and a medication called a “wormer” will be prescribed.

Stool samples are often collected as part of a routine dog physical examination in order to check for the presence of worms. In the case of tapeworms, discarded tapeworm segments may be visible in the dog’s feces or attached to the fur around the anus or under the tail. To the naked eye, these may look like small bits of white rice.

Treating Dogs for Worms

When a dog is found to have an infestation of worms, it should be prescribed a wormer immediately by a vet. Depending on the severity of the infestation, the type of worms, and the likelihood of re-infestation, the treatment may need to be repeated once or several times.

There are over-the-counter wormers available, but most vets do not recommend them because they are necessarily weaker and may not kill all types of worms and their eggs.

Intestinal worms can cause numerous health problems for dogs, up to and including death in extreme cases. Taking measures to prevent infestation, detect it as quickly as possible, and treat it accordingly can help keep your dog safe from these harmful dog parasites.

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Do Dog Parasites Cause “Scooting”?

The answer is yes, dog parasites too cause the scooting. Scooting is an anal sac disease. First, let’s understand what scooting is in detail. This is the dragging of the anus with the hind limbs in an extended state. Parasites causing irritation in the anus regions lead to such types of actions in animals like dogs.

However, one should not be under the impression that it is the dog parasites that alone causes such scooting in the case of dogs. There are many occasions in which the dog may have the scooting without any parasite-based etiological agent. For example, anal gland infections, tumors at the anus, and injuries near the anal regions also may lead to such type of dragging of anus region, frequently by the affected dogs.

Flea bite allergy often causes irritation at the anus region and the animal may try to bite the anus region and the irritations due to these factors lead to the final dragging of the anus region on the ground. Cestodiasis in dogs is a condition caused by tapeworms.

On such occasions, if the animal is not treated in time, the animal may be seen exhibiting scooting activities. Tapeworm segments passed in the stool create crawling-like activities near the anus.

Such crawling activities of the tapeworm segments lead to severe itching at these regions. Hence, to make a relief from this type of constant irritation, the animal starts pressing the anus region on the ground first and then tries to drag it on the ground with the typical extension of rear limbs.

Usually, there is a packet of eggs when the fecal sample is examined by a microscope. However, the flotation technique leads to the breakage of these packets to burst, and hence, diagnosis is difficult on such occasions. Scooting dogs need to be examined to rule out tapeworm segments, which look like rice-like pieces.

These segments are white in color and turn yellow when taken from the body. Tapeworms themselves may be seen in the motion or near the anus below the tail regions. Consult your veterinarian for specific cures for this.

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Keeping a Dog Tick-Free

dog skin parasites

Dogs and in general all pets tend to spend more of their summertime outdoors. In the case of dogs, it is very important to be careful about dog parasites, bugs, and microorganisms that can harm them while they get their whiff of fresh air.

Precautions are necessary to keep these dangerous dog parasites away. One of these pests that can cause a lot of nuisance and damage are the ticks since they carry diseases. Avoiding the ticks is of prime importance than curing at a later stage.

Why Ticks?

Ticks tend to stick to warmer temperatures, CO2, and movement. Ticks do not transmit through the air. Their motion is limited to crawling. They transmit themselves by climbing up taller structures or plants and drop onto any living and moving human or animal.

The danger of diseases or kinds of diseases transmitted by ticks depends upon the country and culture, therefore the cure of after-effects of ticks and ticks itself varies from country to country. The danger of having ticks on your dog’s body begins once the tick bites. The bite itself is painless and unfeeling but the place of the bite might get infected in no time.

Consulting a veterinarian is advisable for treatment which normally involves oral antibiotics. If your pet dog is diseased due to a tick bite, there is a risk of infection spreading due to your dog’s salivation or bites. The most popular disease spread by a tick bite is Lyme disease but not the only one.

How to keep ticks away from your pet dog

The best way to avoid these dog parasites is to avoid walking your dog in the midst of vegetation during tick season. Always keep the vegetation around your house trimmed. Certain preventive medication products are also available. More information can be gathered from your veterinarian about the suitability of these to your dog in respect to age and area.

Do not use medications without consulting and proper instructions must be followed in using this kind of medication. Please remember that these medications are suited for a single class of pets only, meaning that tick prevention medication for dogs is for dogs only and should not be used on cats or any other pets.

Removing Ticks

When your dog comes back from outdoors make sure to check him carefully for ticks. They are normally found in warm areas, under the arms, in the ears, between the toes, and in the folds of the skin. If you find any, remove them safely. Do not touch the tick, use an alcohol swab, then pull it up slowly with tweezers. Make sure not to leave any parts of the tick sticking to your dog. If you are unsuccessful contact your vet.

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Could Your Dog Have Whipworm? How To Detect And Treat Whipworm In Your Dog

When it comes to keeping your canine companion healthy both inside and out, it’s important for owners to know which dog parasites see your pet as the perfect host.

One of the lesser-known dog parasites that pose a danger to dogs is the whipworm. Whipworms, like most dog parasites, are resilient. In egg form, their hard shells allow them to survive outdoors in the soil for years in the time. In many ways, whipworms are like hookworms, but instead of ending in a hook shape, one end of this worm tapers to a narrow, whip-like point.

Unlike hookworms, whipworms can’t enter the body through the skin. The only way for your dog to contract them is by eating the eggs. Whipworms exist throughout North America, and transmission is easy if your dog has any contact with other dogs. The long-lived eggs can show up in the soil, dog toys, discarded bones, and water dishes. Once eaten, whipworms then grow to maturity inside your dog’s digestive system.

When they reach maturity, the adult worms fasten themselves to the large intestine and the cecum, a transitional pouch between the large and small intestine. Here, these nasty little dog parasites slash and puncture the intestinal walls in order to feed. The female starts to lay her eggs, which the dog excretes through the feces.

Symptoms for whipworm resemble those for other worms, such as hookworm. Many dogs can carry a certain number of whipworms without showing distress, but past a certain point, your dog may begin to exhibit signs such as a dull coat, anemia, rapid weight loss, and a loose and bloody stool.

He may also begin vomiting up a yellow-green substance. In very severe cases, the worms may begin to puncture the intestinal wall, to the degree that the intestine begins to stick to the body wall. In this case, you might see your dog licking and worry about his right flank.

When you take your dog to the vet, it may take some time to diagnose him with whipworm. Whipworms lay eggs only intermittently, and even when they’re actively releasing eggs, any diarrhea in your dog can make the eggs hard to find. Typically, vets will perform four stool samples over four days before ruling out whipworm.

If your vet finds whipworm eggs, she’ll administer a potent dewormer. But all whipworm dewormers on the market are only effective against worms in their adult form. As a result, you’ll probably need to re-treat your dog.

There are no simple and effective ways of removing whipworm eggs from the soil around your house. However, a contaminated environment can infect your dog over and over again. The best way to combat reinfestation is to make sure your dog’s quarters are sunny and dry since whipworm eggs require moisture. Try to place him in an area of fresh new gravel, pavement, or soil.

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Dog Skin Parasites Why Do Dogs Scratch Themselves? 

Itching and scratching in dogs is nothing short of a nightmare for pet owners. It can keep the owners up all night, driving them crazy. If it can be so painful for the pet owners, then just think about how the dog must be suffering.

All the dog does the entire day is itch and scratch, bite and lick leading to a complicated and aggravating situation if not attended to at the earliest. If your dog is itchy and scratching all the time, it is important to find out the cause of the itch. This can be quite difficult.

These are the symptoms of severe pruritus (itching) according to veterinarians. There is a wide range of causes and severity of itching and scratching in dogs with skin and coat trouble. The top ten worst itching offenders are:

Airborne allergens
Dog skin parasites, such as ear mites, scabies or cheyletiellosis
Skin infections caused by bacteria
Ticks and lice
Food allergies
Fungal infections, including yeast infections
Contact allergies
Whole-body illnesses, such as liver disease, immune-system problems, and some cancers.

There are several types of scratching and itching that can affect your dogs. They can be broadly grouped under General Itching, Persistent Itching, Chronic Localized Itching, and Chronic/Severe Itching.

In General Itching, the dog scratches the skin regularly but hardly shows any visible signs of localized problems. The most common reason for this could be fleas and ticks.

In Persistent Itching, the itching is more localized and the dog scratches a particular area but the visible signs are negligible to non-existent. This type of itching results in thinning of fur and flaky skin and is more or less associated with allergies.

In Chronic Localized Itching, the itching is chronic and extremely painful for the dog. The symptoms include skin rashes and infection. These spots emit pus are make the dog smelly, ultimately resulting in hair loss.

In Chronic/Severe Itching, the dog experiences intense itching. The most common reasons for these are mange or microscopic mites, which lead to crusty and scab-like skin.

There are some other severe itching problems such as fungal infections. They are less common, but also require a vet’s attention.

The best possible way of treating itching in dogs is a combination of proper medication and skin treatment. Persistence in treating the itchiness topically while you are addressing the underlying causes through diet, supplements, and medication will greatly benefit your dogs’ ability to heal and reduce his or their stress as well.

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