How Do Dogs Get Worms and Other Parasites?

How Do Dogs Get Worms and Other Parasites?

“What is that on my dog?” 

“Why is my dog acting strange?”

“Why is my dog scratching a lot?

Parasites come in many forms for humans and animals, and the sooner they’re caught, the easier it will be to treat and recover from having them. There’s really a lot of parasites that exist, so for this blog post, we’ll tackle the most prominent of intestinal parasites when it comes to your dog. 

By the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention’s definition, “A parasite is an organism that lives on or in a host organism and gets its food from or at the expense of its host.” 

There are two (2) types of parasites that commonly affect dogs: 

  1. Intestinal Parasites - This includes hookworms, ringworms, roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and heartworm. Of the non-worm variety, you have coccidia, giardia, and spirochetes
  2. External Parasites - You’re more likely familiar with these buggers, but external parasites include fleas, mites, ticks, and lice.

Intestinal Parasites

This is a breakdown of the types of intestinal parasites that could affect your dog. It’s best to use a monthly dewormer that targets the specific parasite. For example, it isn’t suggested to treat tapeworm with ringworm medication.

Hookworms: These parasites live inside of your dog’s digestive system and your dog can get them from one of three different ways: their mother nursed them while having parasites, the hookworm buried into your dog’s skin, or your dog ingested a parasite egg. Letting hookworms do what they do can lead to blood loss which in turn can have negative effects on your dog’s health. Symptoms for this type of parasite include weight loss and diarrhea. 

Ringworms: It’s not a worm! It’s a fungus but it’s not a fun-gi (fun guy) to have in your life. If your dog (puppy) is still developing their immune system or have been in situations that have compromised their immune system, ringworms are probably going to check them out. Symptoms of ringworms will show as lesions that develop or redness in balding areas. 

Tapeworms: Keep an eye on those pesky fleas. Why? Because if that one flea is carrying a parasite egg, chances are it’ll result in tapeworm. This parasite is ingested/swallowed by your dog through a different host. So if your dog is grooming themself and there’s a flea taking up residence on their coat, guess what can come next? Keep a close watch on their poop. If there are things that look like small grains of rice, it’s more than likely tapeworm.

Whipworms: These parasites live in the large intestine and are hard to figure out. In other words, it’s harder to tell if a dog has a whipworm as opposed to a tapeworm. This parasite causes weight loss and you can look to your dog’s poop again to see if the strong sign of whipworm shows through a mucous covering on your dog’s poop.

If you spot any of the symptoms we shared for these intestinal parasites, seek assistance from your trusted local veterinarian as soon as possible so it doesn’t worsen and lead to other issues. They can provide treatment options or a solution.

External Parasites

These parasites - including fleas and ticks - love munching on your dog’s skin and taking up residence in their fur. The best way to handle these parasites is through preventative measures. Make sure you’re de-fleaing your dog monthly with medication that you can find over the counter at a pet store or from your local veterinarian.

If your dog is suffering from these parasites, consult with your veterinarian as they have ingestible medications that can poison these parasites with each bite they make with your dog.

This is just a sampling of tips and informational posts we offer at Joyride Harness. You can find more content including tips and tricks and how-tos for caring for your dog on our blog in this section.

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