There is a wide variety of parasites that threaten your dog's health, causing everything from minor skin irritation to a life-threatening heart condition. Unfortunately, parasites are common enough that just about every owner will have to deal with them at some point during their pet's lifetime.
Here are six of the most common parasites and what to look for.
Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and if allowed to grow to adulthood, become life threatening. Mosquitoes carry baby heartworms that pass into your dog after a bite. From there, they live in the blood and tissue, eventually reaching the heart and lungs to become foot-long tubular adults that can live anywhere from five to seven years. Heartworm symptoms in dogs include coughing, fatigue, decreased appetite, and weight loss. Luckily, this dreaded disease is easy to prevent .
Roundworm eggs cannot be seen by the naked eye, and are found in the soil, grass, or even rodents. When ingested by a dog or cat, they grow into long tubular worms in the intestines that steal nutrients and take up space. Puppies almost always are infected. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and an extended belly.
Hookworms get into your dog's system through soil, feces, or from eating rodents. Hookworms are dangerous because they feed off the blood vessels in your dog's intestines and can cause discomfort, blood loss, and black, tar-like stools. If severe enough, dogs may lose so much blood they become anemic and die.
When a dog is infected with whipworms , they won't always show symptoms right away. The parasite irritates your dog's cecum (a pouch that connects the small and large intestine) and colon, causing on and off weakness, weight loss, and periods of bloody diarrhea. Unlike roundworms and hookworms, whipworms are more common in adult dogs than puppies.
Most dogs will become infested with fleas at some point in their lifetime. These sneaky, small brown insects hide and lay eggs right in your dog's hair. Infested dogs often itch frequently and have hair loss on their back end. Fleas can also give dogs tapeworms .
6. Sarcoptic Mange
Sarcoptic mange is caused by a tiny parasitic mite that burrows into your dog's skin, causing extreme discomfort and itching, hair loss, and crusty sores. This mite is easily passed to other dogs and people through close contact.
What can you do?
Use a monthly, vet-prescribed product that is effective against numerous parasites. Topically applied products are popular because of convenience and ease of administration. Ask for a product with the unique ingredient combination of imidacloprid and moxidectin.