All animals are at risk of hosting parasites, though some parasites can only survive in certain animals. Parasites can lead to health problems and can even be fatal if not taken care of properly. There are ways to prevent and rid animals of parasites. A parasite infestation should not be taken lightly. Parasites are a complicated matter; but, in order to better your understanding, the basics will be presented here.

Parasites need hosts to survive. To put it simply, parasites live on animals, getting nutrients and life, while giving nothing in return. There are different types of parasites. Internal parasites include roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. External parasites include fleas and ticks. Internal parasites are found in different locations of the body. For instance, tapeworms, hookworms and roundworms can all live in the intestines (among other places), while heartworms live, well, in the heart.

Dogs can get parasites a number of ways. Coming in contact with the feces of an infected animal is one of the most common ways to be infected. Parasites can also be passed from the mother to the pups, carried by mosquitoes or rodents, and sometimes acquired by contact. Since worms are passed so easily, you should always clean up after your pet. If you take your dog to a dog park, then try not to allow him to come into contact with other pet’s feces. If you notice worms in your pet’s feces, then you should make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet may require a stool sample, so try to take a fresh sample in a sealed container along on your visit.

Heartworms are normally passed through mosquito bites. Heartworms live in blood vessels around the heart and inside the heart’s chambers. The danger of heartworms is that, if left untreated, they can cause obstructions in the heart or lungs. Preventing heartworms is difficult, since it is passed through mosquito bites. The best thing you can do is take your dog into the veterinarian for regular visits, and ask about preventative medication. You vet can test for the presence of the worm. An animal with a heartworm infection may exhibit weigh loss, a loss of appetite, and a persistent cough. If your pooch has heartworms, then your vet will start him on a process to kill the worms or to decrease their size.

Another common type of parasite found in pooches is the tapeworm. Tapeworms can be passed by feces or when an animal eats an infected host, such as an insect. Tapeworms normally live in the intestines where they burrow to get their nutrients. Other than licking and biting his anal region, an infected animal may not show any signs of the presence of the worm. The worm is noticeable, however, in the animal’s feces. It usually looks like a tiny grain of rice. Flea and lice control and not allowing pets to eat raw meat or feces are the best preventative measures for tapeworm. Once an animal has tapeworm, there are medications that can be prescribed by the veterinarian to get rid of the worm.

Parasites cannot always be prevented; many puppies are born with them. But, there are some measures that the whole family can take to avoid infection. You should always wash your hands after handling your dog, and never walk around barefooted in his excretion areas. Dogs should not be encouraged to lick people’s faces. As an owner, you should take your pooch to the vet for regular checkups. Always keep his living environment clean, including his food and water bowls. Even if your dog lives outside, you should practice cleaning up and properly disposing of his feces.

A parasite infestation can cause dogs to be ill and even die. Parasites feed off their host but contribute nothing to the host. Although there are many kinds of parasites, dogs most often contract heartworms and tapeworms. There are preventative measures you can take to keep your dog worm free, but he can still contract the worms. For this reason, you still need to take him for regular examinations. When at home, you can practice healthy habits, such as hand washing and cleaning up after your pet.

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