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Parasite Prevention and Control in the Dog

Description
Parasites of the Dog : General Information


A parasite is a being that lives on or within another organism, receiving nutrition and protection from that organism without giving any benefit in return. We tend to talk of parasites and their "hosts," but parasites are definitely not invited guests!

Ideally parasites develop a relationship with their host species so that they survive together. If parasites overwhelm their host, so that the host becomes ill and dies, most often the parasites will die too. Obviously that process is not very adaptive.

Many different types of parasites exist. Some live externally by feeding off dander and debris on the skin. Others live inside our pets, draining nutrients from the intestines or even living in the blood stream or other internal organs. Some parasites are so closely adapted to their hosts that they can only survive in one type of animal. Others can infest a wide range of species. Many parasites require different hosts for different stages of their life cycles. All of these factors are taken into consideration when we are treating or diagnosing our pets for parasites.

Parasites also come in many different sizes and forms. We are almost all familiar with the insects such as the flea and the tick, but internal parasites such has heartworms or liver flukes are not commonly seen. Ascarids, such as the roundworms vomited by a puppy, can be seen with the naked eye in their adult stage, but Demodex mites must be identified under a microscope.

As host species, our pets do have some defenses they can use themselves against parasites. Dogs will scratch to shake off fleas and will even swim in an attempt to remove pesky visitors. Diarrhea will remove many eggs of internal parasites before they can infest our pets. Animals with healthy skin do not attract parasites as much as animals who have skin problems from allergies or seborrhea. The immune system of a healthy pet will do its best to fight off these invaders as well.







A flea (Ctenocephalides canis) on a dog


Dogs may be infested with internal or external parasites. Internal parasites are found within the dog's body. They include intestinal parasites such as worms or a protozoal parasite called Giardia, and heartworms. External parasites are found on the dog's body. They include fleas, ticks, mange mites, and ear mites.

Parasitic conditions can be treated, but prevention is much safer and better for your dog. Medications are available that can be given monthly to control the development of most internal parasites. Medications are available to control many external parasites. Your veterinarian will guide the selection of those agents, according to risk and locale.

For more information on parasite prevention and control based on the age or specific life stage of the dog:



Parasite prevention and control based on the life stage


- Puppy
- Young Adult
- Mature Adult
- Senior




Internal Parasites


  • - Performing a regular fecal (stool or bowel movement) check on your dog is a very important preventive health strategy for both your family and your pet. Any time your dog has diarrhea, soft stool, or stool with blood or mucus you should have the fecal checked.
  • - Dogs with intestinal parasite burdens sometimes have no outward signs, such as poor hair coat, diarrhea, or vomiting. You may not see worms in the dog's bowel movement.
  • - Many parasites are contagious to other dogs.
  • - Parasitism may result in your pet being unthrifty. The worms compete for food, and thus result in a"poor doer."
  • - Intestinal parasites of the dog can infect people. Roundworms can cause serious health problems when the roundworm larvae migrate through a person's eye or abdominal organs (known as ocular or visceral larval migrans). Hookworms can cause skin irritations.
  • - The most well known of the intestinal parasites are roundworms (ascarids), hookworms, and whipworms.




    External Parasites


    External parasites are found on the body and are one of the most common causes of skin and coat problems in dogs. Their damage is more than skin-deep, however; many external parasites also carry serious diseases.




    Parasite Prevention and Control in the Dog : Puppy


  • Pediatric Life Stage > The pediatric life stage for puppies begins at birth and ends at 6 months of age.

    - Deworming of your puppy for roundworms and hookworms is usually started at 2 weeks of age with a product such as pyrantel pamoate. The deworming is generally repeated every 2 weeks until the puppy is 12 weeks of age. Your veterinarian will likely recommend a fecal flotation 4 weeks after the last deworming to ensure that your puppy is free from intestinal parasites.
    We recommend frequent deworming to protect people from getting intestinal parasites such as roundworms or hookworms from the puppy. Spread of disease from animals to people is known as "zoonotic infection." Prevention can be accomplished by giving the puppy a heartworm preventive that also controls gastrointestinal (GI) parasites or by using a broad-spectrum dewormer on a regular basis (every 3 months).

    A fecal examination will likely be performed at the puppy's first office visit to check for other parasites that may not be controlled by puppy dewormers.

    Heartworm preventive is recommended to all puppies, where heartworm is found, preferably starting at 6 weeks of age. Your veterinarian will adjust the dose as your puppy is presented for follow-up visits. Heartworm preventive combination treatments that also help to control other parasites of dogs may be considered.




    Parasite Prevention and Control in the Juvenile and Young Adult Dog



  • Young Adult Life Stage > The young adult life stage for dogs begins at 6 months and ends at 2 to 5 years of age. Animals in this life stage also may be referred to as "juveniles."

    - Consider heartworm preventive that also controls gastrointestinal (GI) parasites. Otherwise, your veterinarian will recommend deworming your dog with a broad-spectrum dewormer several times a year as recommended.
    - You should provide a sample for a fecal examination at each annual visit to check for intestinal parasites. Even with a negative result, the veterinarian may want to give your dog a broad-spectrum dewormer, since negative fecal flotations do not rule out parasitic infestation.
    - Your veterinarian will perform a fecal examination whenever your dog is presented with a history of gastrointestinal signs, such as vomiting or diarrhea.
    - Your veterinarian will recommend an annual examination for the presence of heartworms (occult heartworm antigen test for dogs on monthly preventive; occult heartworm antigen test and microfilaria test for dogs on daily preventive) if you live in a region where heartworms have been found.




    Parasite Prevention and Control in the Dog Based : Mature Adult Dog



  • Mature Adult Life Stage > The mature adult life stage for dogs follows the young adult life stage, beginning at 2 to 5 years and ending at 9 to 12 years of age. The exact beginning and end points of the mature adult life stage vary according to breed. Large and giant breed dogs generally spend less time in this life stage.

    - Consider heartworm preventive that also controls gastrointestinal (GI) parasites. Otherwise, your veterinarian will deworm your dog with a broad-spectrum dewormer several times a year as recommended.
    - You should provide a sample for a fecal examination at each annual visit to check for intestinal parasites. Even with a negative result, the veterinarian may want to give your dog a broad-spectrum dewormer, since negative fecal flotations do not rule out parasitic infestation.
    - Your veterinarian will perform a fecal examination whenever your dog has gastrointestinal signs, such as vomiting or diarrhea.
    - Your veterinarian will perform an annual examination for the presence of heartworms (occult heartworm antigen test for dogs on monthly preventive; occult heartworm antigen test and microfilaria test for dogs on daily preventive) if you live in a region where heartworms are found.





    Parasite Prevention and Control in the Dog : Senior Dog.


  • Senior Life Stage > The senior life stage for dogs begins anywhere from 9 to 12 years of age. These years in the dog's lifetime may be defined as the geriatric years. However, senior dog is preferred by veterinarians and pet guardians to describe a dog during this life stage.

    - Consider heartworm preventive that also controls gastrointestinal (GI) parasites. Otherwise, your veterinarian will deworm your dog with a broad-spectrum dewormer several times a year as recommended.
    - Provide a fecal sample at each annual visit so that your veterinarian can check for intestinal parasites. Even with a negative result, the veterinarian may want to give your dog a broad-spectrum dewormer, since negative fecal flotations do not rule out parasitic infestation.
    - Your veterinarian will perform a fecal examination whenever your dog has gastrointestinal signs, such as vomiting or diarrhea.
    - Your veterinarian will perform an annual examination for the presence of heartworms (occult heartworm antigen test for dogs on monthly preventive; occult heartworm antigen test and microfilaria test for dogs on daily preventive) if you live in a region where heartworms have been found.




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