Know the Three Major Types of Dog Parasites and How to Prevent Them

Dec 15 , 2022

Know the Three Major Types of Dog Parasites and How to Prevent Them

Fleas, ticks, and heartworms are known to be the three major types of dog parasites that bring extreme discomfort to dogs and bring the utmost worry their owners.

Heartworm is a serious dog disease that can lead to heart failure, digestive issues, chronic lung disease, and other organ damage. And if not treated immediately, may result in death. 

Aside from knowing how to prevent these parasites from entering into your doggo’s system, you should also know the causes and symptoms. Because sometimes, no matter how much you take good care of your pooch, these culprits still find their way in. Therefore, it’s better to know the early signs before they progressively become worse.


Fleas

Know the Three Major Types of Dog Parasites and How to Prevent Them

Compared to ticks and heartworm, fleas produce the most hypersensitive reactions in dogs. A dog that is infested with fleas will continuously scratch their body. 

Most of the time, the scratching becomes so severe that the skin becomes more hyperemic and dermatitis occurs in the affected areas.


Causes

  • Contact with other animals that have a flea infestation
  • Contact with immature flea stages that are lying outdoors, most especially in grass and plants
  • Tapeworm

Symptoms

  • Skin sores
  • Skin redness and scabbing
  • Intense licking and itching of the skin
  • Restlessness
  • Pale gums (due to loss of blood)
  • Hair loss
  • Visible appearance of fleas, particularly on the belly, tail, and between the legs

Treatment & prevention 

  • Flea collar
  • Flea powder and shampoo
  • Medication (prescribed by a vet)
  • Topical liquid (prescription products)
  • Oral or injectable IDI (insect development inhibitors)
  • Limiting contact with stray animals
  • Regular grooming and bathing

Ticks

Know the Three Major Types of Dog Parasites and How to Prevent Them

Ticks have different species. But no matter what species they are, they can still transmit harmful or fatal diseases to your dog, or even lead to deadly tick paralysis. 

For the minor effect, a tick bite can cause discomfort and skin irritation when attached to your dog’s skin. 


Causes

  • When your dog crawls to low shrubs or grass
  • Coming in contact with other animals that have ticks
  • Constantly playing outside or being exposed to dirt

Symptoms 

  • Retching or coughing 
  • Loss of coordination (having difficulty getting their hind legs up)
  • Rapid or labored breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Change in voice or bark
  • Vomiting

Treatment & prevention 

  • Use tick prevention products for your dog (as recommended by their vet)
  • Frisk your dog daily (regular tick checking)
  • Consider getting your dog a Lyme disease vaccination 
  • Remove every tick you see and submerged them in a jar filled with isopropyl alcohol

Heartworm

Know the Three Major Types of Dog Parasites and How to Prevent Them

Heartworm, also known as Dirofilaria immitis is a serious and potentially fatal parasite that can cause death. 

Adult heartworms make their way into the infected dog’s pulmonary artery, heart, and large blood vessels. This can cause clogging of the arteries and interfering with the blood supply & blood flow to the major organs in the dog’s body such as the kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart. 


Causes

Unlike fleas and ticks, heartworms do not spread from one dog to another. The main host is the mosquito and dogs get them when they’re exposed to mosquitoes that carry this parasite. 

Most dogs that are infected with heartworms don’t show any clinical signs for as long as two years. And by the time the symptoms are seen, the disease is already advanced or has already become worse.


Symptoms

  • Weight loss
  • Mild to severe persistent cough
  • Fatigue, particularly after activity 
  • Reluctant to performing exercise or playing 
  • Loss of appetite 

Treatment & prevention 

  • Continuous treatment to kill heartworm (as administered by the vet) usually through antibiotics 
  • Complete rest after each treatment 
  • Treatment to kill microfilaria
  • Preventative medicine for heartworm
  • Yearly injection/vaccination administered by a vet
  • Keeping a dog’s shelter mosquito-free
  • Replace water dish and clean food bowls regularly to avoid attracting mosquitoes that can lay eggs

TAKEAWAYS

Fleas, ticks, and heartworms are the three major types of parasites that not just cause discomfort to your precious pooch, but can also be life-threatening, particularly heartworms.

But even so, nothing still beats proper care and nourishment, as well as regular trips to the vet to keep your doggo’s health in check.

Also, each parasite has different causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention. It’s better to know each one of them, so you will always be well aware of the reasons behind your dog’s behavior.