Common dog parasites and how to prevent them

With the coming of spring, and continuing until fall, all pets, but dogs in particular, are exposed to different parasites such as fleas, ticks and intestinal worms.  As the weather gets warmer, risks of parasite infestation increase rapidly and it becomes essential to protect your pet against invaders which can affect their health.

Most common parasites affecting dogs

  • Fleas

The most common external parasite that affect pets, fleas bite dogs and cats to feed off their blood, potentially causing severe skin problems. They can reproduce very quickly in your home.

  • Ticks

Another external parasite that attack dogs when they explore the outside world, ticks act alone and attach themselves to pets to feed from their blood over a period of several days.  Even if they eventually release their host, ticks are dangerous since they can spread diseases like Lyme’s disease, a degenerative illness that can affect several organs and can be transmitted to humans.

  • Intestinal worms

The most common intestinal parasites which affect dogs are worms like roundworm and tapeworm. Also known as the solitary worm, the tapeworm attaches itself in the intestinal wall in order to feed and grow, which can cause rapid and significant weight loss if the worm is not eliminated using appropriate treatments.

Preventing parasites in dogs

A healthy dog is one that is free of parasites. Here are a few tips on how to prevent them.

Preventing internal parasites

The best method to prevent the propagation of intestinal parasites in the digestive system is to administer a deworming medication regularly throughout the year.  The deworming schedule for your pet will depend on its age, habits, and the area in which it lives.  Your veterinarian can determine the best protocol for your pet following those guidelines.

For example, a puppy less than 2 months of age should be dewormed every 15 days at first, then monthly until they are six months old, as well as every month during the warmer season when they are adults.  A deworming treatment is prescribed by a veterinarian and can be in the form of topical liquids, pills, or oral solutions or pastes.  If many animals live in the same environment, it is important to treat all animals at the same time since internal parasites spread rapidly between pets.

Preventing fleas and external parasites

To prevent fleas from infesting your dog, the best method is to administer an anti-flea product regularly.  You can choose between topical products or pills, whichever you prefer and find easiest to administer.  Topical products (vials of liquid emptied on the skin at the neck and/or back of the animal) protect dogs from becoming infested and spreading fleas to the environment.  More effective and practical than shampoos or flea collars, topical or oral products are the best prevention methods.

Preventive treatment against internal and external parasites are available at veterinary clinics. It is also helpful to regularly clean the interior and exterior areas your pet frequents (ex. dog houses, blankets, sofa…).

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