How to find and treat parasites in your dog

September 22, 2016 at 9:56 am

Pets and parasites tend to go together and there are many that can also affect your family, particularly young children. Regular preventative treatments are an essential part of pet ownership, so today we chat about what to look for and how to protect your pets, yourself and your family.


Fleas are usually visible to the naked eye, but can scurry quickly away when you look for them in your dog’s coat. A female flea can lay 50 eggs per day, so you can go from 1 flea to thousands very quickly. Only 5% of fleas live on your dog, so if you are seeing live fleas, it means you also have a big problem with flea eggs, larvae and pupae in your home. A monthly treatment is the best way to kill fleas and the fastest-acting product is Comfortis. You may also need to use a flea bomb in your home if you have a very established problem.


Heartworm is rare, but will never be entirely eradicated. It is usually fatal and often the only warning sign is your dog coughing up blood. The disease is spread by mosquitoes, some of which can travel up to 50km. While most pet owners use monthly (or yearly) heartworm preventatives, dingoes, foxes and stray dogs tend to act as reservoirs for the disease. All it takes is for one mosquito to bite a heartworm positive dog, then bite your dog for the disease to be transmitted. If you have had a break of more than 3 months with your heartworm prevention, visit your vet for a heartworm test before starting on preventatives to be safe.

Intestinal Worms

There are several types of worms that dogs get and some that can also infect humans, such as hookworms and roundworms. Worms tend to cause weight loss, diarrhoea and anaemia and can be easily treated with worming every 3 months. Be sure to treat your whole family for worms at the same time too!


There are 75 types of ticks in Australia. Some spread disease and cause anaemia, but the one everyone worries about is the paralysis tick along the east coast of Australia. Ticks should be removed by gripping near where the head of the tick is embedded in the skin, then twisting to release the mouthparts. If you are travelling along the East coast and want more details about paralysis ticks, visit here. Recently some new tick products have hit the market, some are in the form of a flavoured chew that lasts for 3 months for both ticks and fleas.


There are a few mites of concern in our dogs. Some live in the ears particularly in puppies, but the other types live on the skin. Demodex lives in the hair follicles, so causes patchy hair-loss and is common in young dogs. Demodex isn’t interested in living on humans, so we are perfectly safe from this one. The other type of mite that does like humans is Scabies, more typically known as Mange. This mite makes dogs and humans very itchy and is more common in areas with lots of wildlife such as wombats. Revolution is the best way to treat and prevent Mange, though the secondary infections often need antibiotics from your vet.

What Next?

The collection of parasites that our pets need protection from is pretty broad and it can be confusing when there are so many different products available. If you are not sure whether your pet is covered, chat to your vet and bring in all the different things you are using to make sure you are definitely keeping everyone in your family safe.

Chelsey Moter is a Marketing Coordinator for a Veterinary Hospital in North Ryde called Love That Pet.