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Importance of Parasite Control in Dogs

Parasite control in dogs is a crucial aspect of responsible pet ownership. Parasites can cause various health issues in dogs, ranging from mild discomfort to severe illnesses. Understanding how to prevent parasites in dogs and implementing effective parasite control measures can significantly enhance your dog's health and well-being.

What are parasites?

Parasites come in various forms, including external parasites like fleas, ticks, and mites, and internal parasites such as worms (roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms) and protozoa (e.g., Giardia and Coccidia). Each type of parasite affects dogs differently, but all share the common trait of living off their hosts, leading to a range of health problems.

How do parasites affect dogs?

Parasites can impact dogs in multiple ways:

  • External parasites: Fleas and ticks can cause intense itching, skin infections, and allergic reactions. Ticks are notorious for transmitting serious diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
  • Internal parasites: Worms and protozoa can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and anemia. In severe cases, they can cause organ damage and even death.
  • Overall health impact: Chronic parasite infestations weaken dogs' immune systems, making them more susceptible to other diseases.

How are parasites transmitted?

In many cases, dogs can become infected with parasites without direct contact with other animals because the parasites can be transmitted from mother to puppy before birth. Another potential method of transmission is through insect bites. Some of the most common parasites that infect dogs include:

External Parasites Commonly Seen On Dogs

External parasites live on the skin of your canine companion, biting on the surface and feeding.

The two most common are fleas and ticks:


Fleas are an external parasite that depends upon a host animal for survival, in this case, your dog. Once these tiny parasites have made themselves home on your pet, they will multiply astonishingly. Some estimates calculate that for every adult flea you find on your pet. There may be 100 or more immature fleas hiding throughout their coat. Also, if your pet has fleas, there is a good chance that these parasites invade your home, hiding in carpets and soft furnishings.

Many dogs are allergic to the proteins left behind when fleas bite, which causes the bite area to become intolerably itchy. When this happens, pets often scratch and groom excessively, leading to raw, damaged patches of skin, fur loss, and, in some cases, infections. Additionally, fleas have an added danger in that infected fleas can transmit tapeworms to your pet.


Ticks are external parasites that rely on 'hosts' for transportation and food. A host is a person or animal the tick lands on and begins feeding on. Ticks feed on the blood of their hosts, including humans and animals.

Ticks are extremely common worldwide, and many species are found across North America. Each type of tick comes with serious risks to pet and human health. Tick saliva contains a variety of germs and bacteria that can be transmitted to the animals and people they prey on. These bacteria can lead the host to develop conditions such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Canine Bartonellosis, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, alpha-gal allergy, or Lyme disease.

Internal Parasites Seen in Dogs

Internal parasites are most commonly found in the intestinal system of animals and people. Some of the most common internal parasites are:


Roundworms are a common parasite in pets. As the name implies, large roundworms live in the intestines and cause ascariasis. Kittens and puppies generally become infected with roundworms through nursing and can catch contact with this parasite by eating the larvae found in the feces of other infected animals. Roundworms are a zoonotic parasite, which means humans can also become infected with roundworms.

If your pet has roundworms, you may notice symptoms such as diarrhea, lack of energy, weight loss, or vomiting. There may be no signs of infection in pets with few worms, but you may see them in your dog's stool or vomit. Since roundworm infection symptoms aren't always easy to spot, it is important to have your pet attend annual checkups at your vet's office and have yearly fecal exams.


These are flat, long, segmented parasites that attach to the walls of the small intestine. The Dipylidium canine species most commonly infect dogs, but several types are known to infect pets. Most pets get infected by swallowing a flea infected with the tapeworm, which can quickly happen while grooming or responding to flea bites.


Dirofilaria immitis and heartworms are protozoan parasites in dogs' hearts, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels. Infected mosquito bites transmit this disease; when eggs enter your pet, the larvae travel through the bloodstream for several months, finally settling in the heart and pulmonary arteries.

Heartworm infections go undetected for months until the condition reaches more advanced stages when damage to the pet's internal organs has already begun. Treatment for heartworm disease is available; however, it is toxic to the pet and can be very expensive. For this reason, many pet parents find themselves having to make the heartbreaking decision to euthanize cherished pets diagnosed with heartworm disease.

How to Prevent Parasites in Dogs

Effective parasite control in dogs requires a multifaceted approach. Here are key strategies on how to prevent parasites in dogs:

  • Regular visits to the vet can help detect and treat parasites early. Vets can recommend appropriate preventive measures based on your dog's specific needs.
  • Administering monthly preventive medications for fleas, ticks, and heartworms is crucial. These medications can be topical, oral, or injectable, depending on what suits your dog best.
  • Maintain a clean living environment for your dog. Regularly clean their bedding, toys, and living areas. Bathe your dog regularly with appropriate grooming products.
  • Ensure your dog has access to fresh water and a balanced diet. Avoid allowing your dog to drink from stagnant water sources.
  • During peak parasite seasons, avoid areas heavily infested with ticks and fleas, such as wooded areas and tall grasses.
  • Schedule regular deworming treatments, especially if your dog is prone to picking up internal parasites. Puppies and dogs that hunt or scavenge are at higher risk.

The Importance of Parasite Control in Dogs

Parasites can present a significant danger to even the healthiest dog. This is why parasite control is important for dogs, involving various prevention practices and products to protect your pet and your family.

Parasite control is an essential part of your dog's regular healthcare routine. During your pet's annual exam, your veterinarian in Concord can examine your dog for any signs of parasites and recommend suitable parasite control measures or products based on your location, your dog's risk factors, health status, and more.

We are also happy to address any questions or concerns about parasite prevention and control.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you need to bring your dog in for their annual parasite prevention and care? Contact our Concord vets today to book an appointment for your pup. 

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