Despite the preventative measures we put in place, our pets are constantly under attack by a wide range of parasites. While some nasty critters are easy to spot – fleas and ticks – others, such as internal parasites like tapeworms, can be much harder to identify. Like any disease, they can be very uncomfortable and irritable for your dog, and in some cases they can cause serious health problems if not dealt with promptly. Here’s a list of common parasites to be aware of:
There are two types of parasites that can take host in your pet pooch; while internal parasites live within the dog and affect their organs, external parasites live on their skin, reproduce and cause infestation.
External parasites are perhaps the easiest to identify and the severity of symptoms can vary. Common symptoms include:
- Restless behaviour and irritable mood
- Excessive scratching and chewing on body parts
- Patches of hair loss with inflammation
- Crusting and skin discoloration
- Debris-like substance forming in the ear
- Dry and dull coat or scaly appearance
Fleas are one of the most bothersome parasites for dogs; they grow through multiple life stages before reaching maturation. Fleas start by sucking on the pet’s blood, leading to allergy dermatitis, excessive itching and even skin infections. Since fleas can also carry tapeworms, they can be ingested by the dog. If not dealt with quickly enough, flea infestations can also lead to anaemia.
Administered in a variety of ways and available over the counter in our Rooke’s store, preventive medication is the most effective way to protect your canine companion from external parasites.
Unlike fleas, ticks can easily manifest in us and our dogs. While humans can protect themselves from ticks, dogs are more exposed and therefore vulnerable to tick infestations. Tick borne diseases takes time to show, but quick removal can prevent complications further down the line. Some common transmittable diseases include Lyme disease, spotted fever and ehrlichiosis.
If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, #Rooke’sRecommends checking them for ticks regularly. If you do identify a tick, the best way to remove it is by numbing the tick with alcohol before pulling it out and killing it.
Ear mites are highly contagious and easily transferrable from one infected animal to another. These microscopic mites resemble thick, dark debris and can cause a lot of discomfort for the infected pup. If your dog has been scratching a lot around their ears or if they have a waxy discharge, call your vet for treatment. The vet will clean your dog’s ear to remove the mites and prescribe your pooch with medication.
Although intestinal parasites are harder to detect, dog owners should be aware of the following symptoms:
- Bloating and swelling in the abdominal region
- Consistent diarrhoea with blood or mucus
- Weight loss
- Lethargic behaviour
- Dull coat
Thin and discreet, hookworms are no more than an inch long. They are one of the most common types of internal parasites found among dogs and can also affect humans through skin contact. A dog may become infected when it inadvertently swallows hookworm larvae, often by grooming its feet or from sniffing fences. Despite serious discomfort, these internal parasites are treatable with medication prescribed from a vet or over the counter at our store.
Thin ribbon-like parasites, tapeworms grow in the intestines of your dog. Although they can be very uncomfortable for your pooch, they don’t lead to any serious health issues. Usually transmitted through infected fleas or from ingesting raw meat, tapeworms can irritate your dog’s anus causing them to scoot along the floor. The only way to diagnose tapeworm is through a stool exam carried out by your vet.
Prevention is better than cure
The best way to ensure your pet pooch is protected against these dog nasties is to take them for regular check-ups at the vets. Your vet will identify infestations (if any) in the early stages, making treatment a lot easier.
Feed your dog a balanced diet of cooked or prepared food and fresh water, keep your garden clean and dog supervised so they don’t come into contact with faeces and any suspect-looking fluids.
For puppies, #RookesRecommends starting worming treatment at 3 weeks old, then every two weeks thereafter until the pups are 16 weeks.
If your dog does contract a parasite, the quicker you can get them treated, the better. Rooke’s have a variety of treatment medication for pet owners to buy over the counter, but depending on the type of parasite it may be best to consult with your vet.