Fleas and worms in dogs: diagnosis, prevention and treatment

Fleas and worms are two common parasites that affect dogs and can lead to skin irritation, anaemia, and in severe cases, death. It is essential to understand the signs and symptoms of fleas and worms in dogs, as well as the methods for diagnosis, prevention, and treatment to help keep them happy and healthy.

Diagnosing fleas in dogs

It’s quite easy to know if your dog has fleas as you can usually spot them by simply looking. A flea comb can be used to help identify fleas and their droppings.

A dog scratching an itch

Here are some common symptoms of fleas in dogs:

  • Excessive scratching and biting at the skin
  • Hot spots or hair loss
  • Reddened and irritated skin
  • Black or dark brown specks (flea dirt) on the fur
  • Tapeworms (as fleas can carry tapeworm larvae)

If you suspect that your dog has fleas, it's important to consult a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. Flea infestations can cause discomfort and skin irritation, and in severe cases, can lead to anaemia.

Diagnosing worms in dogs

Worms can also be easily diagnosed in dogs and is usually done by examining your dog’s poo. If there are no worms present in their stool but your dog is showing signs of having the parasites, a sample may be examined under a microscope to check for worm eggs. In some cases, an X-ray or ultrasound may be required to confirm the presence of adult worms in a dog's gut.

Symptoms of worms in dogs include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dull coat
  • Abdominal discomfort or swelling (pot belly)
  • Anaemia
  • Coughing or gagging
  • Increased appetite but not putting on weight
  • Scooting or rubbing their bottom on the floor

Remember: Some dogs may show no signs of worm infestation, so regular check-ups with a vet and regular preventative treatment are recommended to ensure your dog's health. If you suspect that your dog has worms, it is best to consult a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Preventing fleas and worms in dogs

Preventing fleas and worms in dogs is relatively straightforward. Fleas can be prevented through regular grooming, including bathing and brushing, as well as the use of flea control products. These products can come in the form of topical treatments, oral medications, and collars.

Worms can be prevented through regular deworming treatments and by avoiding contaminated food and water sources and keeping your pooch away from other dog waste. Keeping a dog's environment clean, including their bedding and toys, can also help to prevent the transmission of worms.

Treating fleas in dogs

Treating fleas in dogs typically involves the use of antiparasitic medications. These medications can come in the form of topical treatments and collars.

Topical flea treatments

Topical flea treatments are medications applied directly to the skin of pets, usually on the back of the neck, to kill fleas and ticks. They often contain ingredients that are toxic to fleas and other pests but safe for pets and humans when used as directed.

Topical flea treatments are typically effective for a month and provide convenient, long-lasting protection against flea infestations. They are a popular choice for pet owners as they are easy to apply, provide quick relief from flea bites, and are waterproof, so they remain effective even after swimming or being washed.

Flea and tick collars

Flea and tick collars are a type of pet accessory designed to protect pets from fleas and ticks. They work by releasing a chemical that repels or kills these parasites, providing continuous protection for your pet.

Remember: It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for using flea and tick collars, as overuse or improper use of the product can cause harm to your pet or be ineffective in controlling fleas and ticks. It's also important to regularly check your pet's skin under the collar to ensure they are not experiencing any irritation or discomfort.

In the case of fleas, it is also essential to treat the environment in which the dog lives. This includes regularly hoovering and washing bedding, toys, and any other items that may have come into contact with fleas.

Treating worms in dogs

In the case of worms, treatment typically involves a single dose of medication. In some cases, a second dose may be required to eliminate all the worms.

How to prevent flea infestations

  1. Regular grooming: Brushing your dog regularly can help remove fleas and their eggs from their fur.
  2. Keeping your home clean: Frequently hoovering, especially in areas where your pooch spends a lot of time, to remove flea eggs and larvae. Wash your dog’s bedding regularly and consider using a flea-repelling spray in your home.
  3. Using flea and tick preventatives: There are a variety of flea and tick preventatives available, including oral medications, topical treatments, and collars. Consult with your vet to determine the best option for your dog.
  4. Treating dogs and their environment: If you already have a flea infestation, it's important to treat both your pooch and their environment to make sure you completely eliminate the problem.
  5. Keeping on top of your garden: Maintaining a tidy garden by cutting grass and removing debris can help reduce flea populations and make it harder for them to find a place to hide.

It's important to take action as soon as you suspect a flea infestation to prevent it from becoming a larger problem.

In conclusion, fleas and worms are common parasites that can affect our canine companions but regular check-ups, preventive measures, proper hygiene, and a balanced diet can go a long way in keeping your dog healthy and parasite-free. If you suspect your dog may have fleas or worms, speak to your vet for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment and care.


Looking for more dog advice?

Find the information you need as we support you through every step of your journey with your canine companion.