The Most Common Parasites in Dogs

January 15, 2019
Parasites can be tiny, and yet deadly for your pet. Read on and find out about the most common parasites in dogs

Parasites are annoying creatures that inconvenience our pets and can also transmit diseases to them and to us. That’s why it’s vital to keep them under control. However, to do that, you have to recognize them first. For dog owners, knowing what the most common parasites in dogs are and how to stop them is very helpful.

The most common parasites in dogs

There are hundreds and hundreds of parasites, but we’ve chosen the four most common ones that we consider the most dangerous. They are ectoparasites, which means they contain small parasites inside that can cause illnesses in your pet. Some of these can even be deadly.

Fleas

A dog scratching itself.

This is certainly one of the most common parasites in dogs. We all know about the annoying itch that a simple flea can give our pets. They lay eggs very quickly (6000 eggs is their maximum amount) and in a short time they’re all over your dog’s skin.

Fleas feed on warm blood, no matter whether it’s human or animal blood. That proves they like warm places. So, it’s important to clean your house very well, especially under and behind furniture. Also, check the carpets and any dark, hot corner that you can think of.

Although they seem very common and normal, fleas can transmit diseases in dogs like bartonellosis or dipylidiasis.

The best way to fight fleas is to put a flea collar on your dog, keep your house clean, and use home insecticides. There are also some homemade remedies.

Phlebotomes (sand flies)

This parasite causes leishmaniasis, because it carries the bacterium leishmania, which causes this terrible canine disease.

This disease is incurable. Even a dog that’s fortunate enough not to catch the condition in its severest form and die will have to be medicated for life. The best way to prevent this parasite from entering your dog is through external and also internal antiparasitics.

Ticks

Another of the most common parasites in dogs are ticks. You may think that this is one of the simplest and least dangerous parasites that exist. You may also think that getting rid of them is as simple as finding them on your pet and plucking them out. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

A single tick can kill your dog by giving him Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, or Lyme disease. Some of those conditions are deadly, so the best thing to do to prevent them is to be attentive to your pet and check him daily. This is especially important if he doesn’t live inside the house, but rather on the patio or in the yard.

It’s important that if you find one of these parasites on your dog, that you don’t try to pull it out right away. Put some gloves on, so that you don’t get infected. Use tweezers, putting them as close to the skin as possible. Get a good grip and pull slowly to make sure it comes out completely.

If that doesn’t happen, it’s likely that part of the parasite will remain inside the animal, causing infections that can get worse.

Mosquitos

A small dog having a bath.

We’re talking about those pesky little flies that feed on our blood. Unfortunately, they can cause big health problems for our dogs.

If your dog gets bitten by a mosquito infected with the parasite Dirofilaria, he can get filariasis. This is a pulmonary condition that can kill your pet. This parasite is known as “heartworm” because when it’s inside the body, it becomes a worm and enters the heart and the most important blood vessels, blocking them and potentially killing the animal.

The best way to avoid these types of parasites that can kill your animal is to talk with your veterinarian so he can advise you as to the best way to continually deworm your dog. Although it’s normally done once every six months, your vet might have another suggestion for you.

  • Burza, S., Croft, S. L., & Boelaert, M. (2018). Leishmaniasis. The Lancet. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31204-2
  • Brito, A. C., Costa, L. G., Alexandre, W., & Almeida, P. De. (2001). Prevalence of canine filariasis by Dirofilaria immitis and Dipetalonema reconditum in Maceió , Alagoas State , Brazil. Cad. Saúde Pública. https://doi.org/S0102-311X2001000600021 [pii]