Top tips for dealing with dog parasites

Posted by Betty. April 14th 2014.

No matter how hard you might try to protect your pet’s health, it is common for dogs to become infected by parasites at some point in their lives. Although parasites come in many different guises and have varying levels of impact on your pet’s health, it is important to stay vigilant in order to safeguard your dog’s quality of life.

While vaccination is undoubtedly the best way to keep your pet healthy, it is also useful to pay close attention to your pet’s dietary habits and behaviour, as these can prove instrumental in ensuring early diagnosis and treatment.

dog eating

Top tips for dealing with dog parasites

1.    Fleas
Perhaps the most well-known of all canine parasites, as they bite any warm blooded entity that they come in to contact with, fleas are not only an irritation to your dog but to your whole family.

To confirm that your dog does indeed have fleas, stand them over a white sheet and gently backcomb their hair. In the debris that collects on the sheet, look for dark crusts which resemble coffee grounds.

Once placed on cotton wool, a red halo of blood will appear from these crusts, indicating the presence of a flea. If you do suspect your pet has fleas, it is vital to treat other animals in the home and the environment itself thoroughly. It is best to purchase a treatment recommended by a vet and to vacuum your surroundings before use.

2.    Tapeworm, roundworm and lungworm
Unfortunately, fleas can often act as hosts for the larvae of other parasites and simply swallowing an infected bug can cause your pet to develop an internal parasite problem in the form of tapeworm. Similarly, if your dog eats (or even licks) a slug he can contract lungworm.

As well as treating your home and pet for fleas and worming your dog every three months, it also pays to pick up your dog’s faeces as soon as possible to avoid giving any eggs that are present a chance to hatch and infect other pets.

3.    Ticks
Ticks can latch on to your beloved dog after a run in long grass or a jaunt through fields. A particularly revolting example of the parasitic family, ticks attach themselves to an exposed part of your animal’s flesh and feed on its blood, gorging until they drop off.

Your knee jerk reaction might be to yank the tick off of your dog’s skin but for the good of your pet and yourself, the correct way to remove a tick is by using fine-tipped tweezers or a tick hook and whilst wearing rubber gloves.

4.    Scabies and ear mites
Parasites are also responsible for two particularly unpleasant skin conditions in dogs, known as scabies and ear mites. Scabies is caused by highly contagious skin parasites which burrow in to your dog’s skin causing scabs and hair loss whilst ear mites live in your dog’s ear canal and can be identified by the excrement that they leave behind.

Both conditions cause intense itching, leading your dog to scratch compulsively. As scabies can spread to humans, it is important to take your dog to the vet for a diagnostic skin scraping and the prescription of a medicated shampoo or cream to wash your pets with.

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