4 Common Parasites Found In Dogs

Fleas, ticks, and worms oh my!


When it comes to parasites that barrage and cause discomfort in your canine companion, they’re not all that uncommon though they disrupt your dog’s health. From fleas, ticks, and worms, it’s likely that at some point in your dog’s life they’ll come face-to-face to with these annoying pests which can be both internal and external and sometimes hard to determine. 


Not only can parasites be exceptionally irritating, but they can also even cause serious health concerns and disease — don’t be left in the dark when it comes to parasites and your dog!


Parasite prevention is the first step in parasite control and at The Vet Set in Carroll Gardens, we know all too well the menace parasites cause. Join us in today’s post as we review all things parasite related!

Parasites and Dogs


People often ask, “what are parasites in dogs? And, they’re defined as an organism that lives on or in a host and gets its sustenance at the sacrifice of the host — so, parasites are the same for dogs as for humans, they’re just subject to different types. 


There are two types of parasites — internal and external — that can affect the health of your dog. And while both can make your dog ill, they often present in different ways. Let’s examine those below!

How Do Dogs Contract Parasites? 


There are a variety of ways in which dogs can get parasites. In the case of fleas, they are often contracted through another infected animal but sometimes flea infestations can be brought from the outdoors in and both dogs and humans can experience issues. 


Ticks, on the other hand, are contracted outdoors and in wooded areas — when dogs roam through long grasses and bushes in an area that has fleas, it’s vital to keep your dog protected. 


Intestinal parasites such as worms, will inhabit your dog internally if they consume the eggs that have been laid in the water, soil, or in food. Unfortunately, puppies can contract parasites from their mothers both in utero and after birth.


How Are Parasites Diagnosed And Treated In Dogs?


Many times it can be difficult to know if your dog has a parasite. Sure, they may be acting fine and just seem to have an upset stomach or itchy skin, but if you recognize the symptoms from above, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your local vet to identify the parasite your dog may have — both fecal and blood tests are common in determining present parasites. 


In parasite treatment, sadly, there is no one universal medication that can both treat and prevent parasites in your dog. It’s also important to note that if your dog has a severe case of internal or external parasites, not only will the vet have to treat the parasite but they may also have to treat secondary health effects such as dehydration, anemia, and infections. 


To better prevent parasites there are a couple of tried and true methods to follow including:


Schedule routine vet appointments – Pet wellness visits are vital in keeping your pet healthy and can be great for early detection of not only parasites but many other dog health concerns. 


Keep a consistent parasite prevention schedule – When it comes to fleas, ticks, and worms, it’s important to implement year-round care and parasite prevention treatments that are appropriate for your area. 


Help with your dog’s hygiene – It’s always important to clean up feces after your dog promptly to prevent contamination, and, you may also want to keep an eye on what they’re eating while you’re out walking or at the dog park — it’s not uncommon for them to get into other dog’s feces or contaminated water.  


Now that we understand what parasites are, how they’re contracted, and how they’re treated, let’s review the most common types of both internal and external parasites in dogs. 



Heartworms cause heartworm disease in dogs which can greatly impact the health of your dog. Heartworm is a roundworm parasite that nestles in the blood vessels in the heart and lung tissue and is transmitted by mosquitoes. And while heartworm is seen in just about every state, it’s most widely seen in Southern states. 


Once a dog is diagnosed with heartworm, they will need consistent heartworm treatments over several months to ensure the parasite is killed. At this time, it’s important that your dog takes it easy and gets a lot of rest. If your dog doesn’t take it easy there can be complications due to the medication and dying worms. 


The good news for your canine companion is that heartworm is easy to prevent with a variety of preventative medications that need to be given every month. 



Fleas are not only annoying to your dog as they create itchy and irritated skin that leaves your dog miserable, but they can be difficult to treat because of their life-cycle — you may think you’ve killed them all, yet there was a tiny larva burrowed deep and now the flea infestation can begin once again! 


Not only do fleas feed on your dog’s blood, but they can cause an allergy dermatitis that promotes skin infections and extremely itchy skin. 


To make matters worse, if your dog is busy itching their skin and consumes a flea, this also subjects them to tapeworm because fleas tend to carry tapeworm eggs.  



Ticks are an insidious pest because they can attach themselves to both dogs and humans and cause health issues in both including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, bartonellosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. And while humans can protect themselves with sprays and clothing, dogs rely on their owners to help keep them safe.



Tapeworms live in the intestines and have a flat-shaped appearance. As we mentioned above, dogs typically contract them through eating fleas (fleas carry their eggs), but dogs can also get them through consuming raw meat. 


The dog butt scoot can be a tell-tale sign of tapeworms because tapeworms typically cause anal irritations as worms are shedding. Excessive licking in that area can also indicate tapeworm. 


While tapeworms don’t cause serious disease, they can cause an intestinal blockage and starve your dog of vital nutrients affecting how they absorb essential nutrients. 



Giardia causes intestinal issues in dogs from a microscopic protozoan parasite. And while there are several types of giardia, dogs are most commonly susceptible to C and D. 

Typical symptoms of giardia in humans are diarrhea and vomiting, however, dogs don’t generally show the same symptoms. Giardia may cause weight loss some bouts of diarrhea, and fatty stool. 

How do dogs get giardia?

Dogs contract giardia through ingesting the parasite in the cyst stage of life, where it will then transform into a trophozoite and begin attaching to the intestinal wall to feed. 

The parasite is typically passed in the stool anywhere from 5 to 12 days.   

Keep your dog parasite-free!


In most cases, canine parasites can be easily prevented and treated with no serious side effects. It is, on the other hand, crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms of common parasites such as heartworms, fleas, ticks, and tapeworms. 


To diagnose or get more information on parasites, connect with us at our Carroll Gardens vet clinic today!  







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