How to Naturally Treat Parasites in Dogs
When it comes to man’s best friend, pet owners will do almost anything to keep their dogs happy and healthy. Unfortunately, parasites can often get in the way of a dog’s comfort and well-being.
Whether it’s fleas, ticks, or worms, parasites can leave your dog in distress and result in serious health issues.
Although conventional parasite treatments are effective, they can come with the risk of side effects. So if you’re looking for a more natural way to treat your four-legged friend, here is all the information you need to treat your dog for parasites naturally.
WHAT ARE PARASITES?
Parasites are organisms that live off a host. They live, feed, and grow inside or on your dog.
Common types of parasites on dogs include parasites like fleas and ticks and internal parasites in dogs like tapeworms or hookworms. These parasites can be transferred in a range of ways but often by close contact.
The symptoms your dog will experience will depend on the type of parasite your dog has. External parasite symptoms are typically easier to spot because you can often see the parasite on your dog's skin or hair.
The symptoms of external parasites on dogs can include:
- Excessive scratching or chewing
- Dry, flaky, and inflamed skin
- Brown or black discharge from the ear canal
- Patches of hair loss
- Discomfort or restlessness
- Development of skin infections
- The physical presence of fleas/ticks and their dirt
The symptoms of internal parasites often aren’t noticeable until they become severe. A severe infestation of internal parasites can result in serious health issues for your dog, including breathing issues, infection, malnutrition, and anemia. Because internal parasites commonly affect the gut, regular examination of your dog’s fecal matter is important to spot an internal parasite infestation in the early stages.
The symptoms of internal parasites in dogs can include:
- Loose stool/diarrhea
- Presence of worms in feces
- Weight loss
- Disinterest in food
- Bloated abdomen
- Itchy backside/scooting
- Breathing issues
SIDE EFFECTS FROM CONVENTIONAL TREATMENTS
Current treatment options for an internal parasitic infestation include various deworming medications such as pyrantel pamoate, praziquantel, and fenbendazole. These treatments paralyze and kill different types of parasitic worms. External parasites can be treated with either topical or oral medications, including pills, collars, shampoos, and sprays. Most external parasite medications contain chemical treatments that kill fleas or ticks when they contact your dog.
Anti-parasitic medication does come with a risk of overdose and has to be carefully prescribed based on your dog's weight and age. If your dog received too high a dosage of deworming medication, it could result in vomiting, tiredness, shaking, and even seizures.
Flea treatments also come with risks due to the toxicity of common ingredients like pyrethrum and organophosphates. When misused or at the wrong dosage for your dog’s weight, breed, or age, flea treatment can result in symptoms like muscle tremors, weakness, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive drooling after application. Some ingredients in flea treatments can even be fatal when given in excessive amounts.
The good news for dog owners who want to keep their dogs safe from parasites and prefer natural treatments is that there are some natural ways to prevent and treat parasitic infections in dogs.
Garlic is able to slow and kill over 60 types of fungus and 20 types of bacteria, as well as some of the most potent viruses. Garlic has a history of killing parasites and controlling secondary fungal infections. It also detoxifies while gently stimulating elimination, and has antioxidant properties to protect against oxidation caused by parasite toxins. Garlic can kill amoebas including one-cell varieties, as well as pinworms and hookworms.
Used globally as a carminative , Ginger also increases circulation and helps all digestive issues. It is particularly good for gas and nausea associated with parasite die-off , while improving stomach acid production, which kills parasites and protects your pet from getting infected in the first place.
Fennel is rich in potassium, zinc and vitamin C, can kill worms in the intestines, and is also a natural treatment for diarrhea. Acting as a diuretic, it can flush excess liquid from the body, which includes toxins like parasites or worms. Fennel has proven to be a benefit against drug-resistant Candida. Canine parasite infection can leave your pet vulnerable to other pathogens. Clearing out other organisms along with the parasites can make your parasite detox even more effective.
Licorice has proven to be one of the most effective plant compounds effective in killing viruses– it prevents the formation of certain viral proteins, and helps kill them in the cells where they replicate.
Indian lilac, used for centuries and proven to be antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal. The leaves have anti-parasitic, antiviral and antibacterial properties that help to kill the parasites and remove toxins left by the dead parasites.
Black pepper has potent antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Research data shows that certain compounds in black pepper have the ability to kill pathogenic bacteria by destroying the bacteria cell wall integrity, altering the permeability of cell membranes, and inhibiting the activity of intracellular enzymes.
Plants like pumpkin and squash are a Cucurbita species, which has demonstrated the potential in treating intestinal parasites in dogs and gastrointestinal diseases. In particular, squash seeds contain high levels of cucurbitacins, biochemical compounds that exert the anti-parasitic activity of Cucurbita plant species (1).
One study found that extract from squash seeds have a 100% success rate in killing the parasite giardia within 48 hours, and pumpkin seed extract exhibited an 83.67% mortality rate within 96 hours (2).
While they might not seem like a dog-friendly snack, squash and pumpkin seeds can easily be added to your dog's diet when ground or oil.
Pomegranate has demonstrated a strong ability to target and destroy internal parasites in dogs, such as roundworms.
One study found that oral ingestion of pomegranate peel extract by mice infected with the parasite Cryptosporidium parvum resulted in an improvement of all parasitic symptoms with no adverse side effects or deaths (3). Again, while this study involves only mice and not dogs, it highlights pomegranate's anti-parasitic potential and its extract to help your dog fight off infestation.
If adding ingredients like pomegranate or squash seeds to your dog's food is a little too strange for you, you can also purchase veterinary supplements high in parasite-fighting ingredients.
Look for supplements that are high in:
- Vitamin A: Studies show that vitamin A is associated with positive parasitic health outcomes and may fight parasites such as giardia (4).
- Cucurbita species: Look for supplements that contain squash or pumpkin seed extracts due to their anti-parasitic properties (5).
- Pomegranate extract: Pomegranate could improve parasitic symptoms (6).
- Hemp: This may come as a surprise, but hemp may help your dog fight off parasites thanks to active compounds known as cannabinoids (7). You can try the Anti-parasitic K-9 Support Supplement Sticks from Pet Fx. These are hemp-infused and can help protect your dog against internal and external parasites.
Onions should be avoided at all costs as it is toxic for dogs.
A 2014 study found that a mixture of onion, coconut flakes, and glucose fed to horses and sheep for ten days resulted in either the complete disappearance of previously existing worms or a significant reduction in worms (8). Despite any claims, onions should not be given to dogs, especially as an at-home treatment for parasites.
Coconut is safe for dogs to consume on its own, but due to the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) coconut contains, excessive amounts could lead to gastrointestinal upset and bloating.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Parasites can be a burden for your dog and lead to serious health conditions. While conventional medications can be effective in treating parasites, they sometimes come with side effects.
Some dog owners may prefer to prevent a parasitic infection through natural remedies, either to avoid certain medications’ side effects or simply because they prefer easy diet changes over expensive medicines. Whatever the reason, through simple additions to your dog’s diet, you could improve your dog’s ability to fight parasites and reduce the need for medications.
However, It’s important to keep in mind that you should always first consult a veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog’s health.