Why parasite protection is so important for dogs

Getting infected by parasites is very easy.

In North America, more than 70 parasite species can be dangerous to household pets—and many of them can latch onto a host in innocuous ways.


Most internal parasites are transmitted through contact with contaminated soil or fecal matter. Your dog may step onto a patch of ground where hookworm larvae are present and have the tiny organisms make their way in through your pet’s footpads. If your dog’s sniffs another dog’s stool too closely and later licks their own nose, eggs may be ingested and find their way to your pet’s intestinal tract.


External parasites are just as sneaky. Fleas in the environment can jump up to 48 cm to latch onto a new host. Ticks can patiently lie in wait on leaves and grass, then climb onto your dog as they brush by.


Parasites can have serious consequences for your dog’s health.

Initial symptoms of external parasites may be non-existent or limited to minor itching or skin irritation. However, fleas can cause excessive scratching and chewing, which may lead to skin infections and bald patches. Ticks are also known to carry several serious diseases.


Loss of appetite, diarrhea, scooting, vomiting, weight loss and respiratory issues could all be signs of an internal parasite infection. Some internal parasites­—such as heartworms, which can restrict blood flow, damage internal organs and even cause heart failure—can be fatal without medical intervention.  


Some dog parasites can infect humans.

While dog fleas and ear mites typically don’t live on humans, they can cause skin irritation on contact. Ticks are infamous for transmitting Lyme disease and may feed upon both two-legged and four-legged hosts. A minority of dogs infected with Lyme disease develop symptoms such as fever, arthritis and loss of appetite[i], while most infected humans experience flu-like illness and a characteristic rash.[ii]


There’s no “one size fits all” solution to parasites.

Canada is the second-largest country in the world, and depending on whether you live in Quebec, Ontario, Western Canada or the Atlantic provinces, some parasites may or may not be present. Living in an urban or rural setting, having vulnerable family members at home and feeding your pet raw meat are important risk factors that your veterinarian will assess when developing a parasite protection plan tailored to your furry friend’s specific needs.


Parasite prevention is cheaper than treatment.

Regular vaccines paired with topical or oral parasite control products are an investment in your family’s and your pet’s health. You can plan and budget for them. If inadequate protection causes your pet to become infected, they may need multiple appointments at your veterinary clinic along with costly medicine.


Should your home become infested with parasites, eliminating them may require a lot of effort and money. Fleas spread quickly and typically lay their eggs in places such as floorboard seams and furniture upholstery. Getting rid of them completely may involve weeks of intense daily cleaning or hiring an exterminator.




[i] Littman MP, Gerber B, Goldstein RE, Labato MA, Lappin MR, Moore GE. ACVIM consensus update on Lyme borreliosis in dogs and cats. J Vet Intern Med. 2018 May;32(3):887-903. doi: 10.1111/jvim.15085. Epub 2018 Mar 22. PMID: 29566442; PMCID: PMC5980284.