Parasites in dogs

Parasites in dogs

Dog parasites

A dog can become infested with a vast array of parasites, both internally and externally. External parasites live on the outside of the body, typically on the hair and skin of the dog. Fleas and mites are two examples of very common external parasite in dogs. Both fleas and mites come in a wide range of different species, but dogs are normally infected with no more than a handful of them since other species have other preferred hosts. Internal parasites live in the internal organs of the dog, e.g. lungs, liver, kidneys and heart. Some internal dog parasites will migrate through two or several internal organs over the course of their life, and quite a lot of them are capable of migrating via the placenta to infect the unborn puppies of pregnant bitches. Intestinal parasites are a special type of internal parasites that live in the small or large intestine of the dog. Some parasites live out their entire life as intestinal parasites, while others migrate to other organs.

What are parasites?

Parasitism is a type of symbiosis. In the field of medical parasitology, including veterinary medicine, the term parasite is used for eukaryotic, pathogenic organisms. This means that protozoan and metazoan organisms that attack dogs are referred to as parasites, while bacteria and viruses are not. Fungi are eukaryotic organisms and can live as parasites on dogs and other animals, but are despite this usually not referred to as parasites in the medical field.

Why have organisms developed into parasites? The truth is that biotrophic parasitism – such as latching on to a dog –  is an extremely successful way of living from an evolutionary perspective. Up to half of the animals in the world (the exact number will depend on which definitions we chose to use) actually have at least one stage of their life when they live as parasites. Parasitism is also a common way of living for plants and fungi. Since there is such an abundance of parasites out there, it is not surprising that almost all animals – dogs and humans included – are hosts for several different parasites.

Dog parasites, humans and other pets

Some parasites are extremely picky and will only tolerate a specific species as their host, while other parasites will thrive on anything from mammals to reptilians. As a dog owner, it is important to do your research and find out if the parasite that has infested your dog can spread to other pets or even to humans. In most cases, a few simple hygienic rules can prevent your from catching parasites from your dog. Some parasites can “test bite” humans, but since we are not their preferred host they will never develop a true colony in or on us.

If you have several pets in your household, all of them might require simultaneous treatment to prevent them from re-infecting each other. Also keep in mind that pets that you dog has played with, likes to sniff in the park, etcetera can be parasite carriers. When your dog has been diagnosed with a parasitic infection, it is always a good idea to talk to the other dog owners that you and your dog have met. Together your can brake the cycle of infection and re-infection

Parasites in dogs: (click for more info)
Cheyletiellosis in dogs
Chiggers in dogs
Ear Mites in dogs
Fleas in dogs
Heartworm disease in dogs
Hookworms in dogs
Mange in dogs
Roundworm in dogs
Tapeworms in dogs
Ticks in dogs
Trichinosis in dogs