Dog Parasite Symptoms

Dog parasite symptoms are important to recognize. Doing so can save a dog's life.

External Parasites and Symptoms

Fleas are one of the most common external parasites to affect dogs. Fleas bite a dog and their saliva causes great irritation to a dog's skin. A dog that is scratching and biting himself a lot may have fleas. Fleas can carry tapeworms and are known to have caused the Bubonic Plague.

Lice like to bite dogs and suck their blood. A dog that has lice will not be in good health. His coat and hair will also be of poor quality. Dog owners can also tell a dog has lice visually if they see small, half moon-shaped objects that are gray or white in color attached to a dog's hair. Lice also carry tapeworms and can cause infections on a dog's skin.

Mites can affect a dog's skin or ears, which can cause ear infections and mange. Signs of mites include hair loss and a waxy discharge in a dog's ear canal that is dark. Infections or irritations of the skin may also be seen.

Ticks, which are big fleas, suck a dog's blood and can carry serious diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis and canine ehrlichiosis. A dog that has ticks will sometimes become anemic, causing the gums to be pale in color. Visual symptoms include seeing a bug that is about the size of a match head up to the size of a pea (depending on how much blood it has sucked) attached to a dog's skin.

Internal Parasites and Symptoms

Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes during blood-sucking. This type of parasite can live in a dog's heart or blood vessels. A dog with heartworms will develop a cough that can turn into pneumonia, will have trouble breathing and will lack energy. Heartworm can also cause a dog to lose weight.

Hookworm will infest a dog when the larvae crawl through a dog's skin or when a dog eats hookworm eggs. This parasite will live in a dog's intestines and can cause him to lose weight. Other signs of hookworm include bloody stool and seeing the parasite in a dog's stool.

Like hookworm, dogs can acquire roundworms by ingesting the eggs. Roundworm can also be passed on from a mother to her puppies in the womb. This parasite also affects a dog's intestines, but can also survive in his stomach. Symptoms of these parasites include loss of weight and a poor-quality coat. A dog with roundworms can also cough them up.

Tapeworms and whipworms will also live in a dog's intestines and can be acquired by a dog via ingestion of an intermediate host (like fleas) or the eggs and larvae. These parasites can also lead to weight loss and a poor coat. A dog with tapeworms, however, will pass worm segments in his stool.

It is important for a dog owner to know the symptoms of parasites. Not only will a parasite endanger a dog's health, but can also endanger the health of his owners if the parasite is transmitted.