Seven week old golden retriever puppy outdoors on a sunny day.

Why Pets Need Parasite Prevention

It’s easy to forget how much trouble tiny parasites can cause for your pet - and for you! Along with infesting pets and homes, parasites can be carriers for various diseases. Here in Livonia, we regularly treat patients for a variety of parasites, both internal and external.

Parasites that Affect Our Pets

Ticks: Ticks have become more prevalent in the area, putting more animals and people at risk for Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and other illnesses. Places that ticks frequent include wooded areas, areas with shrubs and tall grasses, and wood piles. Be sure to check yourself and your pet for ticks before you both enter the house.

Heartworms: Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and can spend years inside a host without causing any obvious symptoms. This makes heartworm infestations very dangerous. To protect your pet from heartworms, we advocate year-round prevention.

Fleas: Fleas are incredibly small, but they can become a monumental problem in a short amount of time. Fleas can jump great distances to move from host to host, and their bite can cause an allergic reaction in some pets. When the temperature drops, fleas may take up residence in floor boards, carpet fibers, and other furnishings.

Intestinal worms: Roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms are common intestinal parasites in dogs and cats, and are spread to other animals that come into contact with stool from an infected animal. Occasionally, if a dog accidentally ingests a flea infected with tapeworm, they can also become infected.

Giardia/Coccidia: Giardia and Coccidia are both microscopic, single-celled parasites that live on the intestinal wall of the host. They primarily affect puppies, but older dogs can have them as well. In puppies, a common symptom of coccidiosis or giardiasis is diarrhea, or, in more severe cases, bloody diarrhea.

Common Diseases

Heartworm Disease

It takes just one mosquito to infect your pet with heartworm disease. Heartworm larvae enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart and lungs, where they grow to maturity. Heartworms put stress on the heart and lungs, blocking major arteries. Given enough time, heartworm disease can be fatal.

Lyme Disease

Deer ticks are the primary carriers of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. This is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be spread from animals to humans. Infection is not always easy to detect, as symptoms may take months to develop. These include:

  • Inappetence
  • Fever
  • Joint swelling/lameness
  • Decreased activity

In addition to using preventatives, you can also have your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease.

Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff) puppy trying to get rid off fleas.


Roundworm is the most common parasite in puppies and kittens. If a pregnant animal is infected with roundworm, the parasite can actually infect their offspring as well. To check for roundworm, we need to study a fecal sample under the microscope to look for roundworm eggs. Both animals and people can become infected with roundworm, which causes diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Treating and Preventing Infection

With time and patience, parasites and the diseases they spread can be treated effectively. Furthermore, your pet needs monthly preventative to stay healthy. Preventing parasites altogether saves pets and their families a world of trouble and costly medical treatments. To discuss your pet’s parasite prevention needs, give us a call at (734) 464-6281.