Symptoms of Dog Parasites

Dog parasites exist in several different types. Skin parasites, for example, will cause skin irritation and rashes, while intestinal parasites will cause diarrhea and vomiting. Each of these parasites is highly contagious to other pets and sometimes to humans, so you need to detect the symptoms as early as possible and administer proper treatment.

Skin Parasite Symptoms

The most common skin parasites are fleas. These are contracted from other pets and will cause itchiness, skin irritation, dermatitis, dry skin or dull coat. Hair loss is also frequent and is due to licking, scratching and biting of the skin.

Fleas are visible to the naked eye. They're about the size of a rice grain and are dark brown or black.

Mites are also skin parasites that can be located in the dog’s ears or on his skin. They cause symptoms similar to fleas. In addition, the dog will shake his head excessively, have a foul smell in the ears, excessive ear wax secretion and may have a tilted head. The frequent shaking can cause blood vessels to burst in the dog’s head, and this can lead to complications.

Intestinal Parasite Symptoms

Intestinal parasites can be of several kinds:

  • Heartworms
  • Hookworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Whipworms
  • Roundworms

Note that the name of the roundworms can be misleading; these are not worms, but fungi.

These parasitic worms are located in the intestinal tract, and will cause either stomach uneasiness and vomiting or diarrhea. The dog can become dehydrated and lose weight. In some cases, the stool will be black or there will be blood or mucus in it. You may often see worms or segments of worms in the dog’s feces.

Due to the fact that some of these dog parasites feed on the food in the stomach, the dog may have dry skin or a dull coat.

Other symptoms of intestinal parasites include:

  • Pot bellied appearance
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nervousness
  • Itching in the rectal area
  • Intestinal bleeding
  • Anemia
  • Coughing
  • Flatulence

Even if only some of these symptoms are present, you should consult your vet.

In rare cases, or if the dog has heartworms, there will be no symptoms. Heartworms will display symptoms only when the condition is in an advanced stage.

Treating Dog Parasites

Each parasite has different treatment, so the detection of the type of parasite is important.

A stool test can identify intestinal parasites. Fleas or mites can be diagnosed by checking the dog’s skin and coat.

Treatment will consist of series of dewormers, flea shampoos, sprays or powders and insecticides. Flea treatment can be particularly difficult, as fleas have 4 developmental stages and they must be removed from the dog’s environment to prevent the re-infection.

Zoonic Parasites

Zoonic parasites can be transmitted to humans. A dog can carry zoonic worms that can affect people. Hookworms can infect people, so you need to take extra caution when your dog carries these parasites. Even if you don’t show any symptoms of worms, you can take some preventive drugs.