5 Nasty Parasites Your Dog May Already Have

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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.

5 Nasty Parasites your Dog May Already Have
5 Nasty Parasites your Dog May Already Have

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 Nasty Parasites Your Dog May Have

1. Fleas

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.

UPDATE #!: Frontline Plus stopped working as an effective flea and tick meds for our dogs several years ago. The last time we used flea meds Advantage II worked for our dogs.
UPDATE #2: Guess what? The breeding manager from the guide dog school recommended we try Frontline Plus again and it worked just fine with both Raven and Stetson.

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 your dog for flea infestation please consult with your veterinarian.

2. Ticks

What Are Ticks?

Ick!!! That pictures are 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 its 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 buildings 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 is a topical medication that prevents flea and tick infestation.

However, if you already have ticks try using tweezers to remove the little bugger. Grasp the tick with the tweezers as close to your dog’s skin as possible.

Pull straight out and be sure not to pull too hard and leave the head lodged under your dog’s skin. This can lead to secondary infection and inflammation. Apply antiseptic ointment to the bite.

3. Hookworms

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 mother’s placenta before birth, or through the mother’s milk.

How Do I Know My Dog Has Hookworms?

You normally won’t see these guys as they are diagnosed through your dog’s 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.

4. Tapeworm

What Are Tapeworms?

I know what you’re 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 dog’s 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 dog’s 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 dog’s poop. They appear as tiny pieces of rice crawling around in your dog’s stool….ewwwwww….You may also see the same tiny segments near your dog’s 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 Advantage II or Frontline Plus 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.

5. 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.

Heartworms are developed in mosquitoes and contracted in 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 than usual, and 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 of 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 Puppy In Training

Lucky for me, Stetson was bred at Guide Dogs of America and came to me parasite free. He’s been taking Frontline Advantage II 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 him 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!!!!

After a couple of visits to the veterinarian, some medication, proper grooming, and tender loving care, 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?

We’ve used topical medications like Advantage II and Frontline Plus for a long time. Of course, we want the best for our dogs so we’re always researching new and effective solutions to control parasites.

If you have any suggestions on how to control these pests please let me know in the comment section below.

5 Nasty Parasites Your Dog May Already Have. Many of these little critters have preventative meds like flea an tick medication, heart worm meds. If you’e dog has fleas, ticks, hookworm, tapeworm, or heart worm make sure you consult your veterinarian on how to prevent or get rid of these nasty bugs. #heartworm #fleasondogs #ticksondogs #hookworms #tapeworm #fleamedication
Your Dog May Already Have These 5 Nasty Parasites.

We are not veterinarians if you encounter any parasites on your dog you should schedule an appointment to see your vet immediately.


For more detailed information please visit the Pet Care Tips website.

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  1. I have 3 dogs a shiztzu a yorkie and a chiauhahua my yorkie sleeps in my bed she keeps scratching her butt I thought she might need wormed so i have her meds for that and I found those like grains of rice in my bed but they were dead still creeped me out do I need to take her to get please let me know thank you

  2. A friend of mine has a Chihuahua. On its rear backside near her tail are what he says are black bugs that aren’t fleas. The skin around the area was raw. He finally got that mostly clear with baths and combing. When he started washing her he combed through her fur and that’s how they came off with the comb. He’s bathed her multiple times but the bugs persist. She barks constantly so I know she’s in pain. What could those bugs be, and how could he get rid of them. Thanks

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your friends dog. You should have your friend take his dog to the best for a thorough examination.

  3. Thanks for suggesting Frontline Plus! We used other topical remedies and they were not so effective. Those fleas were a real disaster in our old house… The basement was full of them.

    1. Ick! I hate fleas! One thing our vet told us is fleas can become immune to flea medications. It actually happened to us with Frontline Plus many years ago and we had to switch over to Advantage II for a little while. If your flea meds are not effective you may want to consult with your vet for an alternative option.

  4. Trifexis! It prevents hook, heart, round and whip worms. Also fleas.
    Combine that with Vectra 3D. (not frontline or others. They aren’t working) your dog is covered! Repels and kills fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, flies, lice, and mites. Prevents all stages of life for fleas I hope this helps

  5. Today one of my mothers friends children pointed out bugs in one of my puppies poop. He did not state what they looked like. My puppy is 5 months, and I have a doctors appointment schedule for , but should I cancel or still go? Help >_<

  6. Whew, grateful for your picture of the ticks– I live in a small African country and just found an engorged one in my pup’s ear. Had no idea what it was, was so worried it was something more harmful. Never been so relieved to see it was just another run of the mill tick, which, living here, we find weekly or so anyway.

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