Dogs are our favorite adventure buddies, and they love to explore! Sometimes the best adventure may result in unwanted guests: Parasites. Many types of parasites are able to use your dog as a host; but worry not, they are usually easily treatable! Dogs can pick up parasites through being bit by a host species (such as a tick), through their skin, and most commonly through ingesting fecal matter or drinking contaminated water. Parasites are concerning as they can cause undesirable consequences such as diarrhea, malnutrition, skin issues, or other symptoms. Many dogs will get some type of parasite in their life, but most are easily preventable! The best way to prevent your dog from acquiring a parasite is to keep them on monthly heartworm and flea/tick prevention year round. These preventative medications protect against parasites such as hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms, along with protecting against many parasite vectors.
Parasite prevention is especially important because some parasites are zoonotic, meaning that they can be transferred to us humans! Some additional steps you can take to prevent parasites in your dog are regularly cleaning up your dog's excrement, monitoring that your dog is not ingesting the feces of another animal, and cleaning your dog's paws before they enter your home after a day of exploring.
How do I know if my dog has a parasite?
Some dogs will not show any symptoms with a parasite, which can make it tricky for their owner to know they have one. Others may show symptoms such as decreased appetite, weight loss, and diarrhea. The best way to know if your dog has a parasite is to do regular blood and fecal testing to ensure your dog is as healthy as can be! If your dog does start to show symptoms, call your veterinarian for guidance before assuming what may be the problem.