Dog Parasites - The Importance Of Dog Parasite Prevention

How old does my dog need to be to start parasite prevention?

Your dog, for most preventions, can be eight weeks of age. I paused for a minute because I was going to say they can start all preventions at eight weeks of age, but that's not the case. So every prevention is different. Really, you need to ask your veterinarian which one you want to use. But for my personal favorite, which is Simparica Trio, they can start this one at eight weeks of age. I love this product because it does everything in one medication. So they get their heartworm, their intestinal parasite, their flee and their tick protection for 30 days with one product. Now, some of the other products that we carry here, like Bravecto and ProHeart 6, need to be six months of age before they can start those products. So it does depend, but it can be as young as eight weeks of age.

Dr. Cara Hill
Advanced Animal Care - Berea

What are intestinal parasites and how do I get rid of them in my dog?

The most common description that we have for them from the owners is that they are seeing worms in their dog's poop, and that's what intestinal parasites are. They come in different varieties, so some are what we consider in the worm family. So we have roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms. They all look a little different. So some look like long pieces of spaghetti, some look like little grains of rice. And so, those are definitely intestinal parasites that we do see, but we also have some other intestinal parasites that are like protozoa. So they're a little bit smaller. We can't see them with the naked eye, like Coccidia and Giardia, but we can pick them up on an intestinal parasite exam. And then, there are some other intestinal parasites that don't live in the GI tract. They're pretty uncommon though. We don't regularly see them. So the biggest ones that we worry about are those intestinal parasites.

What are external parasites and what can I do to prevent them?

The biggest ones that I think most owners think of are going to be fleas and ticks. And so, the other ones that we run into kind of fall in the mite category. So a lot of times, a mite infestation, most owners have heard of mange before. The best thing to do for external parasites is to keep them on prevention for fleas and ticks. And the really awesome news now is that the newest drug class that we have for flea and tick prevention actually treats mites as well, so it's kind of all-in-one prevention for those external parasites.

How soon should I bring my dog to the veterinarian if I suspect they may have parasites?

The sooner, the better. The reason being is that one flea can lay up to, I think it's 50 eggs per day. And so, if you've got a couple of fleas on your pet, that's a lot of egg-laying that's going to start happening in your house. And then, you can turn into an infestation that way. Ticks, of course, can carry diseases that they can jump off of your pet and bite you and spread disease to you, like Lyme's disease. It's not necessarily something that they can contract from the pet or share from one pet, but the ticks do carry the diseases. So really, if you notice one, getting your pet in sooner is best.

How will a veterinarian diagnose parasites in my dog?

If we're looking for intestinal parasites, a lot of time, we'll do an intestinal parasite exam by doing what we call a fecal flotation. So we'll mix their poop sample with a special solution, and then we go through our process where then we look at that sample under the microscope and look for eggs of the parasite under the microscope. Sometimes, if some owners visibly see the worms in the poop, that can be really helpful in helping us diagnose those intestinal parasites, and we can usually treat those with an oral dewormer.

Is ringworm a parasite?

Ringworm is not a parasite. Ringworm kind of has a misleading name. It's actually a fungal infection. It just happens to make that nice little ring, red raised ring on the skin, but it's not a true parasite.

Why is early detection and diagnosis of parasites so important?

We can actually see your pets get really sick from an overburden of both internal and external parasites. So sometimes, if they have a really, really heavy burden or a heavy load of maybe something like hookworms, those guys can actually drain quite a bit of blood and cause anemia of your pet. They can ingest a lot of nutrients, making your pet really thin and unable to absorb the nutrients well for its own body's function and can make them really sick. We also see anemia from flea bites because the fleas feed on blood. And so, if there's enough of a flea infestation and they're feeding on enough blood, it can cause anemia that way. The fleas can transmit some diseases. And then, like I said earlier, ticks can carry diseases that can be transmitted as well. It can make your pet very sick.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (859) 985-5678, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Dog Parasites - FAQs

Dr. Cara Hill
Advanced Animal Care - Berea

What are the treatments for dog parasites?

It's going to be a bit different depending on the parasite that we're dealing with. If it's an internal parasite, we will often treat those with dewormers, depending on the parasite we found. Sometimes they require an oral medication if it's a protozoal-type parasite. Suppose it's an external parasite like a flea or a tick. In that case, we'll often recommend a product to kill them, whether it be something like Simparica Trio, which takes care of fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, as well as heartworms, or maybe something like Bravecto that takes care of those fleas and ticks.

If one of my pets has parasites, do all the pets in my home need to receive treatment?

It depends on what parasite that we are dealing with. If it's fleas and ticks, fleas for sure, then yes, everybody should be treated because, let me tell you, fleas do not discriminate against who they will jump on and who they will bite. If you're noticing fleas, then yes, I would strongly encourage you to treat all of your pets and keep them on year-round flea prevention. When it comes to intestinal parasites, it depends on the type of parasite. With some of them, the eggs can be picked up in the soil, so if your pets go outside together and use the same grassy area to go to the bathroom, then it is possible that they both picked up the same parasite. But having an intestinal parasite exam done for those intestinal parasites on each pet would be the best thing to do to start with, to see who needs treatment and who doesn't.

Can I get parasites from my dog?

Again, it depends on the parasites. As I said, fleas don't discriminate, so they will bite you just like they will bite their pet if they're hungry enough. Ticks don't as well, so if your pet brings in a tick, it's possible that once that tick is done feeding on your pet and jumps off and goes and lives its tick life, it can get onto you. The biggest thing that I recommend to all of my pet owners is don't make any poop sandwiches when it comes to intestinal parasites. We want to avoid bringing any fecal material near our mouths. But then the other caution, too, is that if you guys have a sandbox or anything that your kid plays in, be cautious walking around sandboxes barefoot or putting the sand in your mouth, because many times, outdoor animals or even your own pets might use a sandbox like a litter box.

Is there prevention for dog parasites?

My favorite prevention is going to be Simparica Trio. I love this product because it gets everything in one dose that you give every 30 days, so it's just once a month, but it gets heartworms, intestinal parasites, and fleas and ticks. But other products that we carry here that our pet owners like are going to be Bravecto, a chew that lasts for 90 days. This one takes care of fleas and ticks on your pet, and many times we'll pair it with ProHeart 6 or ProHeart 12, which is an injection that we give here in the clinic which takes care of the heartworms and the intestinal parasites in your pet.

Are parasitic infections serious or will they go away on their own?

They're not going to go away on their own. They always require treatment. In terms of seriousness, it depends on how many parasites there are, so one may not be so bad, but one often turns into a whole heck of a lot more...and that's when we start to run into trouble. And so, if you're noticing any parasites at all, whether it be fleas, ticks, worms in their stool, then we recommend having your pet seen and getting them treated.

Can I use natural or over-the-counter treatments for my dog?

You have to be careful about that. I don't feel like the natural stuff is as effective as the products we sell here at the clinic. In terms of the over-the-counter products, they're not going to have the same guarantee or quality as the products we sell here in the clinic. If for some reason at all your pet were to become sick after taking a product, they were to throw the product up, or they were to have an allergic reaction, we always guarantee the quality of the products that we have here, and we will ensure your pet gets healthy and well if something were to happen while your pet was on the product. But the same can't be said for the products that you purchase at the store.

We'll often see pets develop rashes or get sick. Maybe they'll have tremors or things like that because the wrong medication size was used, or perhaps the medication itself wasn't good. Maybe it caused some skin irritation, so I advise many pet owners to use caution when looking at over-the-counter products.

What can I do at home to treat or prevent parasite infestations?

You can purchase some products at Lowe's, Tractor Supply, or any home improvement stores that are home area treatments for fleas or other parasites or pests in the home that you can use. Many times, those products are just fine. What I would encourage you to do is keep your pets out of the home for the day that you're doing the treatments, or maybe you do the treatments on this half of the house in the morning while your pets stay on this half of the house, and then after about six hours, you do a swap. But the best thing to do is to read the label on the product you're using, and that's going to be the best information about how long you need to wait before exposing kids and pets and everything like that to those treated areas. But if you have any concerns, I would always recommend contacting a professional pest control service as well.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (859) 985-5678, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

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