Puppy Parasites

The word parasite refers to an organism that live off of another—in this case your puppy—at the expense of that puppy. Parasites may live on the skin, beneath the skin, inside the body in your puppy's intestines, or even in the bloodstream. They may be bugs you see, fungus that's microscopic, or single-cell organisms like protozoan. These parasites can cause aggravating symptoms at best and deathly illness at worst. Learn about how to recognize, prevent and treat puppy parasites below.

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    Puppy Fleas

    Golden Retriever on Carpet and Wallpaper
    Catherine Ledner/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    Fleas are the most common type of parasite affecting puppies. These tiny bloodsuckers can cause severe itching. Fleas can cause skin damage from scratching, severe allergic reactions and hair loss, as well as hot spots. Fleas also can transmit infectious agents with their bite. Read this article about puppy fleas to learn more about the symptoms of flea infestation and how to prevent puppy fleas.

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    Puppies and Ticks

    Ticks have "ticked off" pet lovers and puppies for years. There are many varieties and while one or two may not cause your puppy major problems, the blood sucker's bite often leads to hot spots. Ticks also can transmit infectious agents with their bite, including Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and tick fever. Read this article about puppies and ticks to learn more about how to recognize a problem and how to deal with puppy ticks.

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    Sarcoptic Mange and Scabies

    A very contagious and common skin disorder of puppies, caused by a mite, is canine scabies—--also known as sarcoptic mange. This disease causes intense itching and can permanently damage the puppy's skin. Learn about this mange mite and how to deal with it in this article about sarcoptic mange and canine scabies.

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    Demodectic Mange

    Caused by a cigar-shaped skin mite, a few of these parasites are considered normal if found on your puppy. Young dogs may have a flare up of "red mange" on their face and legs, too, and usually, that can resolve with treatment and never be a problem again. But when the puppy's immune system can't keep them under control, severe disease can cause terrible skin sores, hair loss or even kill your puppy. Learn more about this type of parasite and what you can do in this article about demodectic mange.

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    Ringworm is a unique parasite—a fungus—that affects the puppy's skin and coat. But it can masquerade and mimic many other skin and coat conditions and requires special techniques to diagnose. Learn what ringworm looks like, how it's treated and what you can do about ringworm in puppies.

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    Almost all puppies are born with roundworms or contract them when they nurse from their mother. This article explains the dangers of roundworms, the signs that you'll see, and how to treat and prevent them in your puppy. Read more about puppy roundworms here.

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    You won't see these tiny works, but the hookworm parasite can be deadly for young puppies. Even though adult dogs can develop immunity, they also can be at risk for this blood-sucking worm. Learn all you need to know about the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of puppy hookworms.

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    Does your puppy have fleas? Then chances are she also will develop tapeworms. You'll see them squiggling along like ​inchworms on the fur near her bottom under her tail, or in her bedding. Yes, these are nasty parasites but can be easily prevented. Learn all about prevention, symptoms, and treatment of tapeworms.

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    Whipworms are a less common but potentially dangerous intestinal parasite of puppies. They are called "whip worms" because they look like tiny whips. You won't see these in the puppy's stool, though, and the eggs are microscopic and must be identified by the veterinarian to diagnose. Whipworms can be difficult to get rid of, too, because they can survive in the environment and re-infect your baby dog time and again, often in conjunction with hookworms. Learn more about how whipworms are contracted, treated, and prevented.

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    Giardia in puppies can be difficult to diagnose and is a common cause of puppy diarrhea. Learn more about this potentially devastating protozoan parasite in this article about giardia in puppies.

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    Some intestinal puppy parasites are so tiny, it requires a microscope to find them—but they can still cause great health problems. Coccidia is a protozoan as is giardia, and both can be contracted from the environment. Learn about the signs, diagnosis, and prevention of coccidia in puppies.

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    Salmonella is a bacteria that has been known to contaminate human food and cause food poisoning, and it also can affect puppies. Salmonella is found in the environment and some animals, or their feces. Puppies may become sick from eating contaminated raw foods, "varmints" or animal droppings, and sometimes even commercial pet foods become contaminated. It can make puppies very sick and causes diarrhea and vomiting. Learn about the signs of the disease, how it's treated and ways to protect your puppy from salmonella.

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    Heartworms hide on the inside of your puppy and are an insidious parasite transmitted by mosquitoes that can cause heart and lung damage and ultimately kill your pet. Thankfully, there are very effective preventive medications available. Learn all about heartworms.