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Importance of Parasite Control in Dogs

Parasites are pests that can live on your pet's skin or inside their body, feeding on their blood and causing various health problems. Our vets from Harlingen will discuss how to prevent parasites in dogs and why it is crucial to control them for the safety of your pet and family.

What are parasites and how do they affect dogs?

Parasites are pests that can live either on the fur and skin of your pet or inside their gastrointestinal tract. These parasites feed on your pet's blood and vital nutrients, which can cause irreversible and severe damage to your dog's organs. Some common types of parasites affecting dogs include heartworms, hookworms, tapeworms, lice, ticks, and fleas.

In this post, we will discuss these parasites in detail and explain why it is crucial to control them to ensure your pet's health. Also, we will explain how your veterinarian can help you with parasite control.

How are parasites transmitted?

In many cases, a dog will not be infected directly from other animals because parasites contracted through animal feces can be passed down from mother to child before birth, and insect bites are another potential method of transmission.

Some of the parasites that most commonly infect dogs include:

External Parasites Commonly Seen On Dogs

External parasites live on the skin of your canine companion, biting on the surface and feeding. The two most common are fleas and ticks:


Fleas are an external parasite that depends upon a host animal for their survival, in this case, your dog. Once these tiny parasites have made themselves at home on your pet, they will multiply at an astonishing rate. Some estimates calculate that for every adult flea you find on your pet. There may be 100 or more immature fleas hiding throughout their coat. Not only that, but if your pet has fleas there is a good chance that these parasites are also invading your home, hiding in carpets and soft furnishings.

Many dogs are allergic to the proteins left behind when fleas bite, which causes the area of the bite to become intolerably itchy. When this happens, pets often scratch and groom excessively, leading to raw, damaged patches of skin, fur loss, and, in some cases, infections. Additionally, fleas have an added danger in that infected fleas can also transmit tapeworms to your pet.


Ticks are parasitic creatures that live off other animals or humans for food and transportation. A tick is called a host when it lands on and begins feeding on a person or animal. These arachnids feed on the blood of their hosts and are found worldwide, including in North America, where several species of ticks thrive.

However, ticks can pose serious health risks for both pets and humans. Their saliva contains various germs and bacteria that can be transmitted to the host, leading to the development of conditions such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Canine Bartonellosis, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, alpha-gal allergy, or Lyme disease.

Internal Parasites Seen in Dogs

Internal parasites are most commonly found in the intestinal system of animals and people. Some of the most common internal parasites are:


Roundworms are a common type of parasite that pets can get infected with. These parasites are called "roundworms" because they are large and round. They live in the intestines and cause a condition called ascariasis. Kittens and puppies are particularly vulnerable to roundworms because they can catch them through nursing or by eating the larvae found in the feces of other infected animals. 

It's important to note that roundworms are a type of zoonotic parasite, which means that humans can also become infected with them. 

If your pet has roundworms, you may notice symptoms such as diarrhea, lack of energy, weight loss, or vomiting. However, pets with only a few worms present may not show any signs of infection, but you may still see the worms in your pet's stool or vomit. 

Since roundworm infection symptoms aren't always easy to spot, it's essential to take your pet for annual checkups at your vet's office and have yearly fecal exams. This will help ensure that any potential roundworm infections are caught early and treated promptly.


These are flat, long, segmented parasites that attach to the walls of the small intestine. The Dipylidium canine species most commonly infect dogs, but several types are known to infect pets. Most pets get infected by swallowing a flea that has been infected with the tapeworm, which can easily happen while they are grooming or as a response to flea bites.


Heartworms, also known as Dirofilaria immitis, are parasitic protozoa that inhabit dogs' heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels. This disease is contracted through mosquito bites, with the eggs entering the pet's body and the larvae traveling through the bloodstream for months before settling in the heart and pulmonary arteries.

Heartworm infections often go unnoticed for several months until the disease reaches an advanced stage, causing damage to the pet's internal organs. Although treatment for heartworm disease is available, it can be expensive and toxic to the pet. As a result, many pet owners are faced with the difficult decision to euthanize their beloved pets diagnosed with heartworm disease.

How to Prevent Parasites in Dogs

As a responsible pet owner, it is crucial to be aware of the various parasites that dogs can contract and their potential health effects. To prevent parasites, it is essential to maintain your dog's vaccinations up to date. Your vet can guide you on a schedule for inoculations. Additionally, take your dog for an annual wellness check so your vet can screen for infestations.

The Importance of Parasite Control in Dogs

Parasites can pose a significant threat to even the healthiest dogs. That's why it's important to prioritize parasite control for dogs, which includes a range of prevention practices and products to protect both your furry friend and your family. 

Parasite control is an essential aspect of your pet's healthcare routine. When you take your dog for their annual checkup with your veterinarian in Harlingen, they will be checked for any signs of parasites. The veterinarian will recommend suitable parasite control measures or products based on your location, your dog's risk factors, and their health status. 

Furthermore, we are always happy to address any concerns or questions you may have about parasite prevention and control.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you need to bring your dog in for their annual parasite prevention and care? Contact our Harlingen vets today to book an appointment for your pup. 

Welcoming New Patients

Our vets at Altas Palmas Animal Clinic are now accepting new patients! Our veterinary team is passionate about keeping the cats and dogs of Harlingen happy and healthy. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

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