5 Nasty Parasites Your Dog May Already Have

I HATE PARASITES! Just the thought of parasites on or in my dog makes my skin crawl. With the flea and tick season upon us my sister-in-law asked me to write an article about keeping those nasty buggers away from our dogs.  On top of the blood sucking going on with these nasty little buggers they could further complicate matters by causing allergies in your dog.

What is a parasite exactly? A parasite lives in close relationship with another organism known as the host and in some way causes the host harm.

Without further adieu here’s my list of 5 nasty parasites your dog may have:

Common Parasites Your Dog May Have:

  • Flea


What Are Fleas?

Nasty little buggers that cause you and your dog to itch like heck. If your dog is allergic to fleas symptoms may be more severe causing inflammation and hair loss in the bitten area.

How Do I Know My Dog Has Fleas?

If you’re not sure your dog has fleas try looking for little black specks scurrying along the surface of the skin. The easiest places to look are on the belly and inner thighs. You can also look for flea dirt which is actually flea feces. Flea dirt looks like dark flecks of black pepper on the surface of the skin. Take some of these dark flecks and put them on a wet paper towel if they spread out like a small stain of blood then your dog has fleas.

What Can I Do To Treat My Dog?

There are tons of different flea products on the market including pills, flea collars, flea powders, shampoos, and topical medications like Advantage and Frontline Plus (affiliate link). I use Frontline Plus for both of my dogs. It’s a topical treatment that I apply between the shoulders of my dog once a month.

If you’re looking to treat you dog for flea infestation please consult with your veterinarian.

  • Tick

big tick

What Are Ticks?

Ick!!! That pictures disgusting! Ticks are little blood sucking parasites that attach themselves to your dog (or you) by burying their head into your dog’s skin. Very disgusting! They become engorged with blood and can expand to several times it’s original size.

How Do I Know My Dog Has Ticks?

I haven’t seen ticks on my dog in a while…thank goodness. From my experience a dog will usually get ticks by brushing up against grass or bushes. Ticks cannot run, hop, or fly and usually climb up onto higher places like tall grass, weeds, or sides of building or fences. When they detect vibration or chemical cues from an oncoming host they will either reach out or let themselves fall from their perch.

What Can I Do To Treat My Dog?

Once again, I’d consult my veterinarian before doing anything. Currently I use the same medication for fleas and ticks. Frontline Plus (affiliate link) is a topical medication that prevents flea and tick infestation. However, if you already have ticks try using tweezers to remove the littler bugger. Grasp the tick with the tweezers as close to your dogs skin as possible. Pull straight out and be sure not to pull to hard and leave the head lodged under your dogs skin. This can lead to secondary infection and inflammation. Apply antiseptic ointment to the bite.

  • Hookworm


What Are Hookworms?

What do you think of the picture? The hookworm looks prehistoric doesn’t it? This picture is an extreme closeup. There are several ways your dog can get hookworms including orally, through the skin, through the mothers placenta before birth, or through the mothers milk.

How Do I Know My Dog Has Hookworms?

You normally won’t see these guys as they are diagnosed through your dogs stool sample. They are very easily detected by your vet as a female hookworm will produce approximately 20,000 eggs a day. Some symptoms your dog may show are pale gums, diarrhea, and weight loss. Skin irritation and itching may be the result of a heavily infested dog.

What Can I Do To Treat My Dog?

Once again consult with your veterinarian. There are several drugs that can be prescribed to effectively treat your dog. The drugs are normally injected or given orally.

  • Tapeworm

tapeworm segments

What Are Tapeworms?

I know what your thinking: “What’s up? That’s not a very good picture…That doesn’t scare me at all.” I wanted to include a realistic example of what you might see. Unfortunately there were no videos or pictures of these little white specks crawling through your dogs poop, but that’s what you’ll see. Trust me when I say, “These things will creep you out!”

Tapeworms attach themselves to the small intestinal wall by a hook like mouth part. As these critters mature they can grow up to 8 inches long and segments will eventually break off and pass into your dogs stool. You may be wondering how did my dog get tapeworms? In order to get tapeworms your dog has to swallow a flea that contains tapeworm eggs.

How Do I know My Dog Has Tapeworms?

Tapeworms are usually detected when they are passed through your dogs poop. They appear as tiny pieces of rice crawling around in your dogs stool….ewwwwww….You may also see the same tiny segments near your dogs anus. The segments may also appear dry and golden in color. These little segments are the mechanism that releases the tapeworm eggs into the environment.

What Can I Do To Treat My Dog?

My thought has always been since your dog gets tapeworms by ingesting fleas if I can keep fleas away from my dog they will not get tapeworms. As a preventative measure again try Frontline Plus (affiliate link) to keep the fleas away. If your dog already has tapeworms then consult your veterinarian. There are drugs that can effectively treat tapeworms by either injection or taken orally.

  • Heartworm


What Is Heartworm?

See all that stringy spaghetti looking stuff. That’s Heartworm…pretty gross. You’ll probably never see heartworm in person. As you can see it can be a very nasty parasite.

Heartworm are developed in mosquito’s and contracted to dogs when an infected mosquito bites your dog.

How Do I Know My Dog Has Heartworm?

The most common symptoms are your dog may appear to be more tired then usual, they may experience coughing, and respiratory distress.

What Can I Do To Treat My Dog?

If you suspect your dog of having heartworm I highly suggest you consult your veterinarian. The process for treating heartworm is a lengthy process and if you’d like to read more about it try googling “heartworm treatment.

“This is important: You need to get your dog tested for heartworm before you start them on heartworm preventative medication. I use Heartguard Plus with my dog Linus. My other dog Stetson, who just went to formal training at Guide Dogs of America was on Interceptor Heartworm Medication.

Stetson A Guide Dog of America Puppy

Lucky for me, Stetson was bred at Guide Dogs of America and came to me parasite free. He’s been taking Frontline for flea and tick control and Interceptor Heartworm medication since I brought him home at 7 weeks of age. All the way up to today I have had no noticeable problems with parasites in or on Stetson.

Linus A Shelter Puppy

On the other hand Linus came straight from the pound and was infested with parasites. I must have removed over 300 fleas from Linus with a flea comb. I sat with him on my lap for about 5 straight hours brushing over and over with that flea comb. His ears were covered in dried blood (from the fleas) . He was anemic and sleepy for 2 days when we got him home.

Remember the tapeworm? The first time I brought Linus home and he pooped in the yard I saw small rice like things in his poop moving around…icccckkkk!!!! A couple visits to the veterinarian, some medication, proper grooming, and tender loving care and a few days later Linus was a happy go lucky puppy.

Cuddly Canines Rescue Puppies

As you can imagine the dogs and puppies I rescued while volunteering with Cuddly Canines were not in the greatest shape either. They came with fleas, tapeworms, and presumably hookworms. We got them immediately on medication and within days they too were parasite free!

Although disgusting, most parasites are easily removed with a trip to the vet and some medication. If you notice any of the above symptoms in your dog please take the time to visit your local vet and take care of these nasty little creatures. If you leave anything unchecked for a long enough period of time your dog’s health could be put in jeopardy.

Writing this article made my skin itch…I think I’m going to take a shower now.

What parasites have you encountered with your dog?

I did a lot of reading on the Pet Care Tips website and summed up some of the things I read. For more detailed information please visit the Pet Care Tips website.


  1. says

    Fleas are a real harmful pest in Dogs life but sometimes also attached itself to us, a proper treatment and observation is one of the best key to achieve the goal of eliminating this pests. Some are educated and some would just ignore this, Let us fight fleas together Read More…

  2. Shalaka says

    Thanks! As I knw now why my pet was getting lots of ticks which worried me a lot.. Seriously when we find such creatures residing into our babies we stress out

  3. Adele Kennedy says

    Hi I can only find black bits at the tip of my dogs tail I did see a small black thing moving away near that area too but it only seems to be that area ive treat him to frontline how long should I wait to see a difference and is it fleas

    • says

      It sounds a lot like fleas. You might get a flea comb or take your dog to the vet. We use Advantage II to control fleas on our dogs.

  4. says

    Fleas are very annoying in your pet, it took me a while to remove this pest. But sadly few weeks later my dog got earmites and I very worried how to cure it. It was luck that a friend of mine recommended me Qbased Solutions for Ear Mite Medicine Pack and the product works very well and I am happy that my dog is now healthy.

  5. Chris says

    What are skinny hot dog shape parasites? About a 1/8 of an inch long. They moe kinda fast too. Black or brown in color.

    • says

      I don’t think I’ve encountered the parasites you’re talking about (thank goodness). You might want to check with your vet.

  6. Victoria says

    Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me what tiny orange specs in my puppies Poop could be? He was just treated for worms at the vet about 5days ago. Hes eating but not like he use to and is very skinny. Thank you

  7. Pam says

    My 8yr old dog was laying down, and she just now got up, and there was a worm about 1/2″ long. It was moving, and seemed to be a whole worm, and not a piece that had broke off. Do you think this crawled out of her, and should I be worried, as she is a house dog?

  8. zaqareemalcolm says

    Just saying, ticks donmt feed on blood. They liquify surrounding cells then consume them. Still nasty buggers :0

  9. Bill says

    found a 3-4 mm red hole in fleshy anus area of my old collie, pushed my fingers in both sides of it and squeezed, out popped a 12 mm x 3mm clear capsule containing a creamy coloured substance, put it in the fire, wish I had opened it to see what was inside. Scottish Borders UK

  10. says

    My dog has these horrible tiny black hard things all over her except for stomach and legs. They are hard and “crunch” when you press down. I have seen NO fleas.HEEEELP.

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