Dogs are prone to fleas and various types of worms. They are frequently outdoors where these organisms live. They roll in infested soil, eat feces and socialize with other dogs that are infected. Though fleas are usually a seasonal nuisance, parasitic worms are year-round. Some worms are relatively harmless, but others, like heartworm, can be fatal. Keeping your dog free of fleas and worms can make it more comfortable and prolong its life.
The tiny flea is a prolific creature. If you find five fleas on your dog, you can be sure there are 95 more lurking in your home as eggs, larvae or adults. Staggered hatching and a long larval stage makes it difficult to eradicate fleas. If your dog has fleas, repeated treatment of the yard and house is necessary to get rid of the fleas. Environmental sprays and powders along with vacuuming can kill and remove eggs and larvae. Topical treatments such as flea dips, shampoos, powders and sprays can help kill the adult fleas on the dog’s body.
Dogs generally get tapeworms by eating infected fleas or small mammals that are infected with tapeworm. After being swallowed, the tapeworm eggs hatch and the tapeworm attaches to the dog’s intestinal wall and feeds off the nutrients in the dog’s digestive system. Eggs leave the dog’s system with feces which contaminate the soil and infect fleas. Eradicating fleas is a key component in reducing the risk of tapeworm. Once infected with tapeworm, dogs can be treated with dewormers (e.g., Droncit) prescribed by a veterinarian, according to Dr. Mike Richards of vetinfo.com.
Heartworm disease is a life-threatening condition that is easily prevented by treating your dog once a month with a heartworm medication like Heartgard. Give your dog this oral medication (which costs about $10 per dose) throughout the year. If an infected mosquito bites your dog during an unprotected month, heartworm can develop and damage its organs. Once infected, a dog requires expensive, often painful, treatment and crate rest for several weeks.
Roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms are also found in dogs. These worms are not as common as tapeworms or as debilitating as heartworm. VetInfo.com says roundworms and hookworms can be controlled by monthly heartworm medications like Heartgard Plus, Interceptor and Revolution. Of the three, only Interceptor treats whipworms. Keeping your yard free of feces helps prevent reinfestation by these intestinal worms.
According to veterinary assistant Tiffani Beckman, some homeopathic treatments can be effective for treating fleas and worms. She suggests consulting your homeopathic veterinarian before using sage, black walnut hulls, freshly ground pumpkin seeds, purified water used to boil parsley, grapefruit seed extract or garlic. Dogs should always be tested for worms before and after treatment.