Types of Parasites in Dogs

There are a great many types of parasites that can potentially take up residence in or on your dog's body. These miniscule organisms survive by leaching off of the nutrients that your dog would normally eat. They do this in many different ways: some parasites live within your pet's intestinal tract and consume the nutrients directly, while others live in other parts of your pet's body and consume his blood or dead skin. In any case, parasites may cause your pet to be malnourished or to suffer from other types of unpleasant symptoms, and it's a good idea to deal with them as quickly as possible.

1. Heartworms

The single most serious and potentially lethal parasite for a dog is heartworms. Heartworms live in and around your pet's heart and subsist off of the tissue in the surrounding area. Because these parasites can attack very early on in your pet's life and can easily prove fatal to your dog, it's important that you take all of the necessary steps to prevent heartworms from the time that your dog is a puppy. A regular medicine can effectively block heartworms from infecting your pet.

2. Tapeworms

Tapeworms and related parasites (like roundworms and hookworms) live inside of your dog's intestines. There, they'll typically attach themselves to the intestinal wall or secure a location in an area where they won't risk being digested and will feed off of the nutrients in the food that your pet eats. As this happens, your dog will not be able to get all of the nutrients that it needs or that it's consuming, and the result will be that your pet may begin to lose weight or become malnourished. Identification of worms of various types is usually done by conducting an examination of your pet's stool for signs of dead worms or eggs.

3. Fleas

Fleas are among the most common parasites found on dogs and many other pets. These small insects live on the surface of your pet's body and live by biting your pet and sucking his blood. Flea bites result in small sores that tend to be itchy.

4. Mites

Mites of various types are common in dogs as well. Certain mites will be more damaging to your pet's health than others, but they generally live on your pet's skin and in his fur and eat at dead skin cells. Certain types of mites are responsible for mange, a condition in which your dog's hair falls out in patches.

5. Ticks

Ticks are more serious parasites that live on the surface of your dog's body. They latch on to your pet's skin and burrow partially into his skin in order to leach off of the nutrients in his blood. Successfully removing the tick is necessary to avoid contamination and certain types of diseases, but it can be difficult to remove the tick unless you have expertise and experience in doing so.