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Common Parasites in Dogs

Parasites are a constant danger to your dog and can range from annoyance to life-threatening. In this post, our Norristown vets will go over some of the parasites that your dog is at risk of contracting and why it is so important to prevent the infection and practice parasite control.

What is a parasite?

A parasite is an organism that feeds on your dog while providing no benefit to him. They steal nutrients from your dog and some can cause irreversible organ damage.

What are some of the most common parasites in dogs?

Some of the most common parasites in dogs are as follows:


Mosquitoes are a common vector of this parasite. Once infected, the worm grows, reproduces, and spreads throughout the dog's body. Because of their unfortunate habit of embedding in the heart muscle, they were given the name heartworm. They can be found in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of an infected dog. The problem with diagnosing them is that by the time the symptoms appear, the infection has progressed quite far. Internal organs can be severely damaged by these worms. It is unlikely that humans will become infected with this parasite.


This parasite can be transmitted from mother to child before birth. It can also be transmitted through eggs that are excreted and then swallowed. The egg can survive for weeks without a host and can infect humans, particularly children (which makes you question every sandbox you played in as a child). In dogs, this can cause stunted growth and a pot-belly appearance. Worms also emerge from both ends.


These dreadful creatures can infect your dog by consuming infected mother's milk or eating the worm's eggs. They can also burrow into the skin. These creatures are tiny vampires that feed on the blood of animals by entering the GI tract and tearing holes in the lining, causing ulcers. They are lethal to young puppies and can cause anemia in adult dogs. These heinous creatures can burrow into human skin as well. Sandboxes, like roundworms, are notorious for being a vector of transmission.


Whipworms are small worms, measuring about 14" (6 mm) in length. They thrive in the large intestine, causing irritation and inflammation. Whipworm infection symptoms include chronic watery diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, and weight loss.


Tapeworms must have an intermediate host, such as a flea, a bird, or certain rodent species, to complete their lifecycle. Adults dogs can contract Dipylidium caninum, the most common dog tapeworm, by eating an infected flea. Puppies are occasionally infected, and a large number of worms can cause intestinal blockage depending on the type of worm involved. Echinococcus ,for example, forms cysts in various organs of its intermediate hosts, and these can include sheep and humans.

How can I treat these parasites in my dog?

Consult your veterinarian about the best parasite management program for your dog. When intestinal parasites are discovered, worm treatment should be administered immediately; periodic regular deworming may be appropriate for dogs at risk of re-infection. Controlling fleas will keep certain varieties of tapeworms from infecting your dog. You may keep your dog's heartworms at bay by using a heartworm preventative.

Of course, the best way to protect your dog is to keep up with their vaccinations. Your vet will be able to advise you of a schedule for inoculation. Make sure your dog goes for an annual wellness check so your vet can test for infection.

Do you believe your dog may have contracted a parasite? Make an appointment with one of our Norristown vets today.

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Trooper Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients in Norristown. Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of your animal companions. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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