Parasites in Dogs: Signs, Symptoms, and How to Get Rid of Them
Pet owners commonly hear about the importance of "deworming," but not many pet owners actually deworm their pets unless specifically told to by a vet. However, all pets can be exposed to parasites that can not only cause them health issues but can expose you and your family to parasites as well (just as we deworm pets, we should also deworm ourselves from time to time).
No one likes to think about parasites, but this doesn't make parasites go away. They are a very real health risk for both animals and humans, and it's important to eliminate them to protect the health of you, your family, and your pets.
Parasites in Dogs
Dogs can very easily become exposed to parasites. As loyal and lovable as these furry friends are, we all know that dogs have some gross habits. They like to roll in the dirt, are fascinated with smells we find repulsive, and eat just about anything. Dogs expose themselves to parasites through these sources, and if your dog becomes contaminated, it can pass these on to you or your family.
When your dog slobbers on you, licks your face or gives you puppy kisses—that can expose you to parasitic organisms. If your dog poops on your lawn and you walk barefoot on the grass, even if you've cleaned the area, the area can still be contaminated by parasites in dogs poop that can enter your body through your feet.
It isn't something most people think about, and it is certainly not the most glamorous or pleasant subject to discuss, but being aware of the risk of exposure to parasites can help you avoid these common sources of exposure so you can protect your health.
What Are Parasites?
Before we discuss the types of parasites in dogs, let's refresh on what parasites are. A parasite is any organism that feeds in or on a host organism and sustains itself at the expense of that organism. There are both internal and external parasites. Internal parasites refer to worms and some of the other intestinal parasites in dogs. External parasites refer to lice and fleas—creatures that live on the body rather than inside it.
What Are the Types of Parasites in Dogs?
There is a range of different parasites that can infect dogs. Not all these affect humans, but many of them do, making dogs a potential source of exposure. Some of the common types of parasites in dogs include:
- Roundworms (such as Toxocara cati, Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonine, Ascaris lumbricoides)
- Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis)
- Tapeworms (such as Dipylidium caninum, Taenia, Echinococcus)
- Hookworkms (Ancylostoma)
- Whipworms (Trichuris vulpis) (1)
Can Parasites in Dogs Infect Humans?
Most of these parasites can infect humans as well. Roundworms are a very common parasite in humans. So common, in fact, that it is estimated that over 1 billion people worldwide have a roundworm infection. (2) Roundworm can exist in humans without showing symptoms, but it can also cause abdominal pain, cough, and delayed growth in children. (2)
Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) can cause pulmonary diseases in humans. (3) Tapeworms can cause weight loss, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and even seizures. (4) Hookworms can cause itching, rashes, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue, and anemia. (5) Whipworms can cause diarrhea and frequent and painful bowel movements. (6) Parasites are not good for your health and are not something you want in your body or your dog's body.
Thankfully, adult hookworms cannot be passed to humans from dogs, but many other worms can. Plus, it is the eggs or larvae that are more easily transmittable and a larger concern for infection, as the human eye cannot see these without a microscope.
Symptoms of Parasites in Dogs
So, what are some of the signs of parasites in dogs? How do you know if your dog has parasites? While parasites don't always show symptoms, some of the common symptoms of parasites in dogs include:
- Scooting (rubbing their behind across the ground)
- Distended or bloating abdomen
- Weight loss
- Dull coat
- Decreased activity
Left untreated, intestinal parasites can cause damage to your dog's intestines and other internal organs and, in severe cases, can lead to death. (7)
How to Get Rid of Parasites in Dogs
So, how do you get rid of parasites in dogs? In other words, how do you deworm your dog? The best thing you can do is to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible to start treatment. Your veterinarian will test your dog's fecal matter and conduct other diagnostic tests to determine the best course of treatment.
Different parasites can require different methods of treatment. Therefore, it is helpful to properly test and diagnose with a professional veterinarian.
However, if you do not have access to a veterinarian, there are certain steps you can take at home to help deworm your dog.
How to Deworm Your Dog at Home
To help deworm your dog at home, you can add certain foods to their diet that support the elimination of parasites. Veggies like carrots and beetroot and fruits like banana, apple, coconut, and papaya are rich in fiber and have natural antiparasitic properties. Apple cider vinegar also has natural antiparasitic properties and is known to be effective in treating parasites in dogs. Pumpkin seeds may also help your dog get rid of worms. Adding some of these antiparasitic foods to each of your dog's meals can help them get rid of worms.
In addition to eating antiparasitic foods, you can add antiparasitic herbs to their food or mix a small amount of an antiparasitic herbal extract in water to dilute it, then spray it into your dog's mouth with a syringe or baster.
Our Parasite Detox formula contains potent antiparasitic ingredients, including cloves, green black walnut hulls, and wormwood. These herbs have been shown to be effective in eliminating parasites in both humans and worms. (8, 9, 10)
All of the herbs in this formula are only harvested when they are at their peak level of potency. This ensures that the active ingredients are as strong and effective as possible. Plus, they are 100% sustainable and wildcrafted. Which means no pesticides, preservatives, chemical fillers, or genetically modified ingredients.
How Long Does It Take to Deworm My Dog?
Exactly how long it takes to deworm your dog depends on several factors, such as the type of parasite, how severe the infection is, and the method of treatment. Generally, it can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 30 days to deworm your dog. However, your veterinarian can give you more specific information based on the infection your dog has.
How Often Should I Deworm My Dog?
If you notice symptoms of parasites in your dog, you should take them to a vet or deworm them right away. If you do not notice any symptoms, it can still be beneficial to deworm your dog once or twice a year, especially if you are using natural methods like food and herbs.
Most people have heard that it is beneficial to deworm their pets, but not many people actually do this on a regular basis. Worms are a health risk for not just your dogs but for you and your family as well. Just as you should deworm your dog periodically, or if it shows any symptoms of infection, you should deworm yourself periodically or if you notice that you have any symptoms of parasites.
Thankfully, getting rid of parasites is simple as long as you follow the right protocol. However, if you think you may have a parasitic infection, you should speak with your doctor. Likewise, if you suspect your dog has parasites, you should take them to a veterinarian for the best medical advice and method of treatment.