There are almost 90 million dogs in households of America. They are the most common and most beloved pet in the American tradition. People who own dogs treat them like members of the family for the most part. They take good care of what the dogs eat, that they get enough exercise and most importantly that they are healthy.
However, it is not always so easy to protect your dog, especially if you visit dog parks frequently and you let your dog socialize with other animals. Parasites are all too easy to transfer and you may not even notice the first symptoms until much later. However, if you do spot any of these symptoms, get your dog to a vet immediately.
There are actually numerous parasites which can be classified here, like hookworms, tapeworms, or roundworms, but they all have one thing in common – they live in the intestines of your dog and can cause a series of unpleasant and potentially dangerous symptoms for your dog. Some of these can even be transferred to humans, so you have an extra incentive to sort this problem out as soon as possible.
It is relatively easy to spot worms in a dog. They will start rubbing their bottom against the floor or furniture and you may even be able to spot worms and worm eggs in their stool. So, when you are in the dog park, inspect your dog’s leavings before you pick them up and put them in a doggie bag. You should particularly do that if you notice that your dog has increased appetite and is losing weight.
Ticks are a notorious parasite of both animals and humans. They suck the blood of their host, attaching themselves quite firmly using a specialized mouth. However, that is not the worst thing about these nasty bloodsuckers. They are known as vectors of some truly dangerous diseases, such as Lyme disease.
There are some products which should protect your dog from ticks, but you can’t be completely sure that they haven’t picked up one or more of these tiny menaces. The best solution is to inspect your dog manually every once in a while, particularly if they’ve been around places where ticks usually live, which is tall grasses and wooded areas.
Even though they may sound pedestrian and plain compared to the rest of this list, they are so prevalent, that you should be on the lookout for them. In case you don’t know what they look like, they are tiny black bugs shaped like a grain of rice, but significantly smaller. They are easily transferred from animal to animal because of their most defining feature – their jumping abilities.
Fleas are bloodsuckers, like ticks, but unlike ticks who use ananesthetic to hide their bites, fleas don’t try to disguise their presence. That’s why you can often see dogs scratching frantically when they are infested with fleas. Just like ticks, fleas can also cause some illnesses in your dog, including a tapeworm.
Mange is a serious skin disease caused by tiny mites parasiting on your dog. Believe it or not, there are mites living on dogs even when they are healthy. They feed on dead skin, hair follicles and oil secreted from the oil glands in your dog’s skin. However, if the number of these mites grows over a certain number, your dog’s immune system becomes overwhelmed and that can lead to areas of redness and itchiness with hair loss.
There is a different kind of mange, also known as scabies, which is much more severe and requires extensive and prolonged treatment to get rid of.
Keeping your dog healthy is not only taking them out and feeding them well, it’s also monitoring any changes and reacting to them in consultations with your vet.