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. Surely someone knows what this parasite that Heather is talking about is and how to get rid of it. I think it is more than one parasite, thread worm, pin worm, maybe tape worm segments…I dont know. My house, animals and I are infested with this too. Have been taking fenbenzadole and it is better, but still horrible. Saw two dead rats outside last summer and am thinking it may be related. Someone please advise as to what this is and what to use to rid our bodies of it.

  2. My beautiful,healthy Border Collie was healthy and strong, until he was put on Frontline for flea control.
    It caused him to have severe seizures, and now he is allergic to EVERYTHING.
    After researching the new symptoms, I found they’re not uncommon for pets put on Frontline products.
    I use natural methods of flea control, not laboratory produced unnatural chemical compounds.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story about Frontline. We’ve been cautious with topical flea meds like Frontline. Our vet has been recommending Nexgard, but we’ve been trying more natural remedies to keep the fleas at bay.

  3. Please help me …I been goin thru this white flakes then I been seeing brown specks I pick them off the dogs I have 5 Chihuahuas n one boxer I been to a dermatologist they said dermatitis but was never screened …the salon told me I had a build up well I have used leave in conditioner in my hair but quit now for 4 months I have these little brown bugs in my hair on my dark pets they look like white flakes on my white boxer looks like bug shells n a tiny insect I put coconut oil on them n their hair wants to shed n a bunch of flakes come together on the chis but the boxer has little brown specks on his I have got what they have .I have had worms come out of my nose n mouth .I seen two on my chis chest not sure if he licked them their or how they got their. I put coconut oil in my hair n have brown bug shells sometimes u can feel them crawling .I have scatch black dots out of my skin some what .the eggs like to stay in my clean clothes first I thought mites now im thinking worms can I have both well my rescue Chihuahua I bought worm med it was for only one worm the long ones well my nephew was here n he seen my dog kept chewing at his butt he said his sister took her dog to the vet n it was hookworms .I have had one of my chi at the vet he never really looked at my cat he jus scrap the dog n said nothing bull crap he was looking right at the flakes I could of took the wrong dog to the vet it seem like I can cure the chis but it comes right back the boxer he is old bout 11 now I forgot to tell u I have pulled like white fibers from my skin n the dogs skin they will roll up help me if u roll them like a bug but white n I have rolled black looking ones but mostly I find parasite poop im really thinking this is effecting my health will the doctor believe me everyone else looks at me like im insane what to do please ask a vet or dr for me

  4. There are small black “stick tights on the outer edge of my dogs ears.Very difficult to remove and they are usually grouped together. I have also found a couple single ones on the paws and stomach area. Any suggestions?

    1. It’s probably a good time to have the vet take a look at your dog’s ears. Our puppies have had ear infections and mites, but this doesn’t sound like anything we’ve experienced.

  5. Also additionally to both dogs, cat and me…
    my home has seemed to erupt with every kind of bug.I’ve seen little white worms in our food…small with a rounded sort of antler head. They get into food, but clothing, fruit, even cigarette butts in driveway!
    Ok, now I do sound crazy, but it is surely pushing me that direction!

    1. Sorry to hear about all the little critters. It’s making my skin crawl. Unfortunately, I’m not too sure what they might be. Maybe an Exterminator would know.

  6. Both dogs and my cat. Now me have an annoying, itchy bug in our hair. They burrow down and wrap up in the hair. When I open the cocoon like thing, eyelash type hairs and white fiber come out fist. A few times I have seen little black bugs come out from the animals only. Mine male a knot of hair and lay thousands of eggs that feel like sand when I shampoo. Borax is only thing that has helped so far on me. Not much on them HELP! AM I CRAZY?

  7. My dog Has not pooped in about 2 days , now he did but it looks wierd like orange eggs … I can’t afford to take him to a vet … Can someone please help ??

  8. 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.

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

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