Importance of Parasite Control in Dogs

Parasites pose a constant threat to your dog, varying from mere annoyances to life-threatening risks. In this post, our veterinarians in Novato will discuss various parasites and emphasize the importance of infection prevention and parasite control for dogs.

What is a Parasite

A parasite is an organism that feeds on your dog without offering any benefit. They steal nutrients from your dog, and some can cause irreversible damage to your dog's organs.

Why should I worry if my dog doesn't interact with other animals?

Insect bites, contact with other animal feces, and transmission from mother to unborn child are all potential sources of infection for your dog. Once a dog becomes infected, removing certain parasites from its environment can prove challenging. Therefore, the most effective approach is to implement preventive measures. Common parasites that dogs may contract include:

Heartworm Disease

Mosquitoes commonly transmit this parasite. Once it infects a host, the worm actively grows, reproduces, and swiftly spreads throughout the dog's body. These worms earned the name "heartworm" due to their tendency to embed themselves in the heart muscle, and they can be located within the infected dog's heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Diagnosing them poses a challenge because symptoms typically manifest when the infection has advanced significantly, potentially causing severe damage to internal organs. Fortunately, the risk of humans contracting this parasite is low.


This parasite can be transmitted from mother to child before birth. It can also be transmitted through eggs that are excreted and then swallowed. The egg can survive for weeks without a host and infect humans, particularly children (which makes you question every sandbox you played in as a child). In dogs, this can cause stunted growth and a pot-belly appearance. Worms also emerge from both ends.


These dreadful creatures can infect your dog when they consume infected mother's milk, ingest the eggs, or burrow into the skin. They act like tiny vampires, feeding on the blood of animals by entering the GI tract and tearing holes in the lining, which leads to ulcers. They pose a lethal threat to young puppies and can induce anemia in adult dogs. Moreover, these heinous creatures can even burrow into human skin. Sandboxes, much like roundworms, have a notorious reputation for being vectors of transmission. (Why do we allow kids to play in sandboxes?)


The classic pest that infests your dog's fur. They are normally an annoyance, constantly biting and causing skin irritation. They can be a disease vector for tapeworms.


These little bugs bury their heads into the flesh of their victim. They can spread Lyme disease and can attack humans.

How to Prevent Parasites in Dogs

Parasites are prevented in dogs by keeping up with their vaccinations. Your vet will be able to advise you of a schedule for inoculation. Make sure your dog goes for an annual wellness check so your vet can test for infestation.


Parasites pose a terrifying and potentially fatal threat to your dog. To ensure your dog's safety, maintain consistent preventative measures. Remember that outdoor sandboxes can become breeding grounds for diseases when frequented by dogs and children.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned about your dog contracting parasites? Contact our Novato veterinary clinic and schedule an appointment with our caring team.