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Five Canine Parasites – A Look At The Types Of Parasites Infecting Dogs

written by: Ollie Hicks•edited by: Paul Arnold•updated: 10/21/2009

Are you a pet owner? If you have dogs as pets you are no doubt very concerned for their health and keen to avoid them picking up any unnecessary ailments. As with many organisms dogs can be a host for a plethora of parasites - here's a look at some of them.

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    Five Canine Parasites

    Types of Parasites

    As a dog owner, of course you love and care for your pet and want only the very best for its health. Canine parasites, and their treatment and prevention, can be a major concern for those who own or come into contact with dogs. What do you need to know about canine parasites? Which are the most common, which are the most serious, and what can you about them? Let's take a look at five canine parasites in the helminth (multicellular) and protozoan (single-celled non-fungal) categories. [1]

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    Richardpaas (Wikimedia Commons)
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    Parasites in Dogs


    Giardia are protozoan parasites [2] which have been found by at least one study [5] to be the most common canine parasitic infestation. This parasite has zoonotic potential in relation to humans.


    The hookworm is a helminthic parasite which has been found by at least one study to be the second most common canine parasitic infestation. This parasite is potentially zoonotic i.e. it can be transmitted between humans and other vertebrates.[3] It can be picked up through the skin or via ingestion of an infectious stage of the lifecycle of the parasite. The most problematic manifestation of canine infection with hookworms is during pregnancy, and in puppies: infection can be passed from the mother in utero or via the suckling milk. Infection in a puppy can lead to spreading of infection into the surrounding environment through faeces, potentially leading to subsequent infection of other vertebrates.


    Canine roundworms are also known as ascarids (Latin name toxocara canis.) They are helminths. [4] Puppies are more frequently infected with this parasite than adult dogs but adult infections may occur. Puppies may be infected in the womb or via suckling milk. Canine roundworm infections do constitute a risk of transmission of infection to humans.[5]

    Tapeworms (latin name D. caninum) [6]

    The tapeworm, or D. Caninum is a common parasite which may potentially be spread to humans via inadvertent consumption of an intermediate host organism i.e. the fleas or lice in which it spends part of its lifecycle. [7] It is part of the helminth group of parasites.


    Whipworms are a common helminthic infestation. Infection takes place via ingestion of eggs. Diarrhoea and possible blood loss may result from a severe infection. There may be a risk of zoonotic infection of human owners from a companion animal such as a dog. [8] It is a good idea to consult with your animal health professional regarding appropriate anthelminthic treatment. [9]

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    1 Lancaster City Council. 'Food Borne Parasites'. 20/10/2009. <>

    2 Bajer A, Behnke JM, Bednarska M, Kuliś K, Siński E. 'The co-occurrence of Cryptosporidium parvum, Giardia spp. and helminth infections in small rodent populations'. Zakład Parazytologii. 2004;50(2):307-15.

    3 Holyoake, C.S. A National Study of Gastrointestinal Parasites Infecting Dogs and Cats in Australia'. Murdoch University Digital Theses Program. 2008. (20/10/2009). <>

    4 Gillespie, S. 'Toxocara: dog walking and playing fields'. Br J Sports Med. 2001; 35: 6-7

    5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'Guidelines for Veterinarians: Prevention of Zoonotic Transmission of Ascarids and Hookworms of Dogs and Cats'. Division of Parasitic Diseases. 27/09/2004. (20/10/2009). <>

    6 'Helminth Infections'. Toolkit On Hygiene, Sanitation & Water In Schools. 2005. (20/10/2009). <>

    7 Kaewthamasorn, M., Niwetpathomwat, A., Assarasakorn, S., Wongsamee, S., Tiawsirisup, S. 'A Surveillance of Canine Gastrointestinal Parasites in Fecal Samples from Public Areas of Bangkok, Thailand '. Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances 5:12 (2006):1209-1213

    8 Rinaldi, L., Biggeri, A., Carbone, S., Musella, V., Catelan, D., Veneziano, V., Cringoli, G. 'Canine faecal contamination and parasitic risk in the city of Naples (Southern Italy)'. BMC Veterinary Research 2:29

    9 The Merck Veterinary Manual. 'Whipworms (Trichuriasis)Treatment and Control'. 2008. (20/10/2009).<>

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