What are the most common parasites that dogs get?

April 13, 2012

Dog owners have to be aware of the fact that the pet is likely to be infested by parasites throughout its lifetime. External parasites that live on the dog’s body are extremely irritating. These external parasites would not only make the life of the pet uncomfortable with the itching. A dog burdened with heavy external parasite infestation can suffer from anemia and from other diseases that would result from the dangerous pathogens these freeloaders carry. The most common external parasites of dogs are fleas, ticks and ear mites. Dog owners though would still have to contend with another parasite infestation. If the exterior part of the dog’s body is inhabited by fleas, ticks and mites, inside the dog’s body are other types of parasites that rob the dog of essential nutrients. Roundworm and flatworms are the most common internal or intestinal parasites of dogs. All dog owners need to know how to get rid of these pesky and at times deadly parasites not only because of the negative effects the infestation has on the health and quality of life of the dog but also because most of these parasites are zoonotic. Due to the close association of pet owners with the dogs, humans would be highly susceptible to infestation too.

Fleas are the most common external parasites of dogs. These small brown blood sucking buggers can make the dog quite miserable. Flea bites are extremely itchy. Some dogs with allergic reaction to the protein in the dog’s saliva will develop skin problems. About twenty four hours after having the first blood meal on a new host, a flea would lay more than fifty eggs and the annoying infestation will begin. These parasites are very good jumpers thus infestation can be easily transmitted to other pets and to humans. Ticks are the second most common external parasites of dogs. Dogs can get these parasites from woody areas. Once the tick managed to climb into the dog’s body, it will use its cutting mandibles and feeding tubes to dig into the skin of the dog. The tick will embed the head into the dog’s skin and begin feeding off the dog’s blood. Unlike flea bites that cause immense itching, tick infestation will not really bother the dog. However, ticks are carriers of life threatening diseases. A dog burdened with ticks can suffer from Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The dog can get tick paralysis as well. Ear mite is another common parasite of dogs. Ear mite infestation is prevalent in floppy eared dogs as these parasites thrive on warm, moist and less airy areas of the dog’s body. Brown coffee ground-like exudates on the pet’s ears are signs of infestation. Although very small, ear mites can be seen as small white dots scurrying among the earwax and the exudates. These parasites that feed on ear tissue fluid and debris also cause immense itching. The dog’s frantic ear scratching and head shaking often result to ear infections.

Roundworms and tapeworms are the most common internal parasites of dogs. Roundworm infestation is most prevalent in puppies. Puppies harboring roundworms would have a pot bellied appearance. Infested puppies would vomit and have diarrhea. Roundworm infestation is generally not life threatening in adult dogs but the infestation can kill puppies. A dog infested with fleas is most likely infested with flatworms too. Flatworm is another internal parasite that dogs get. These flatworms can grow up to several feet long. Signs of infestation are rice-like segments on the dog’s feces and on the dog’s anus.

Humans are at risk of being infected with these parasites that infest the pet. Fortunately, resolving the infestation is no longer a problem these days with the availability of various treatments and medications that will eradicate these annoying pests.

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