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Importance of Parasite Control in Dogs

Internal and external pests called parasites feed on your pet's blood and can cause many potentially serious health issues. In this post, our  Fort Oglethorpe vets will explain the importance of parasite control for your canine companion and family and how to prevent parasites in dogs. 

What are Parasites and How Do They Affect Dogs?

Parasites are pests that can live on your dog's skin and fur or in its body, typically within the gastrointestinal tract. To survive, these parasites need to feed on your pet's blood and vital nutrients. 

Some cause irreversible, severe, and long-term damage to your dog's organs. Many types of parasites can affect dogs, including hookworms, tapeworms, heartworms, fleas, lice, and ticks. 

In this article, we'll examine some common parasites in detail and explain why parasite control in dogs is critical to their vet. Additionally, we'll explain how your vet can play a key role in your battle to keep your dog parasite-free. 

How Are Parasites Transmitted?

In many cases, dogs will not catch parasites directly from other animals. This is because parasites contracted through animal feces can be passed from a mother to a child before they are even born. Another potential mode of transmission is insect bites. 

External Parasites Commonly Seen in Dogs

External parasites live on your pup's skin, biting the surface and feeding on your dog's blood. Fleas and ticks are two of the most common external parasites that affect dogs.


Fleas depend on a host animal for survival (in this case, your dog). Once these tiny parasites have attached themselves to your pet, they will multiply at a shocking rate.By some estimates, 100 or more immature fleas may be hiding throughout your dog's goat for every adult flea you discover. Additionally, if your pet has fleas, these parasites are likely invading your home, burrowing in carpets and soft furnishings. 

Many dogs are allergic to the proteins fleas leave behind when they bite. This can cause the area surrounding the bite to become severely itchy. When this occurs, dogs often scratch and groom excessively, which can cause the skin to grow raw and damaged. You may also notice patches of fur loss, and in some cases, infections. There is also a risk of fleas transmitting tapeworms to your pet. 


Ticks rely on 'hosts' (a person or animal the tick lands on and starts to feed on) for their food. Ticks feed on the host's blood. 

Ticks are extremely common around the world and many different species of this parasite have been discovered across North America. Each type of tick risks your dog's health and can even negatively impact the health of people living in your house. 

A tick's saliva contains many germs and bacteria, which can be transmitted to animals and people they prey on. These bacteria can cause the host to develop conditions such as bartonellosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, or alpha-gal allergy. 

Internal Parasites Seen in Dogs

Internal parasites are most often found in the intestinal system of dogs, other animals, and people. Some common internal parasites include:


This aptly name parasite is a large, round worm that lives in the intestines and can cause ascariasis. Puppies and kittens generally become infected with roundworms through nursing. They can also contract this parasite by eating the larvae found in the feces of other infected animals. Roundworms are zoonotic parasites, which means people can also contract them. 

If your dog has roundworms, you may notice symptoms such as diarrhea, weight loss, lack of energy, or vomiting. Dogs with few worms present may not display any signs of infection. However, you may see the worms in your dog's stool or vomit. Since symptoms of roundworm infection aren't always easy to spot, it is important to have your pet attend annual checkups at your vet's office and have annual 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 easily happen while they are grooming or as a response to flea bites.


Heartworms or Dirofilaria immitis, are protozoan parasites that live in the heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels of dogs. Mosquitoes can transmit this disease when they bite. If heartworm eggs find their way into your pet through a mosquito's bite, the larvae travel through the bloodstream for several months before finally making their home 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

Naturally, after discovering how many parasites our dogs can contract and their potential health effects, pet owners' next question is, 'How are parasites prevented?'.

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 infestation.

The Importance of Parasite Control in Dogs

Parasites can pose a significant danger to even the healthiest dog. That's why parasite control for dogs including a variety of parasite prevention practices and products is important to protect your pooch and your family. 

Parasite control for dogs is an essential part of their routine healthcare. During your pet's annual exam, your veterinarian in Fort Oglethorpe can check your dog for any signs of parasites and recommend parasite control measures or products that would be suitable for them based on your location, your dog's risk factors, health status and more.

We are also happy to address any questions and concerns you may have 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.

Wondering which parasite prevention products are best for your dog? Contact our Fort Oglethorpe vets today to book an appointment for your pup. 

New Patients Welcome

The The Animal Medical Center of Fort Oglethorpe is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Fort Oglethorpe companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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