With summer in the air and the sun almost in the sky it’s important that we take a look at those parasites that wake up as the weather changes. Particularly those that affect our beloved Shih Tzu dogs.
Parasites come in many forms, they can live inside of a Shih Tzu or on the outside of his skin or coat. Let’s first take a look at external parasites and what exactly their plan I as they wake in the warmer weather
- Fleas live in the coat of the Shih Tzu and breed so quickly that an infestation can become apparent in the blink of an eye. Fleas lay hundreds of eggs into the coat of the dog which either hang onto the hair shaft or fall into the environment, onto the bed or similar soft furnishings. You can tell they are there by the grit like flea dirt that starts to show in the coat of the Shih Tzu.
- Ticks do not actually live on Shih Tzu dogs, or any dogs, they just crawl onto a dog for a meal, bury their head into the skin of the dog to drink blood, then drop off afterwards. The main problem with ticks is that they can carry Lyme disease in some areas. Which can make Shih Tzu dogs very ill. The attached tick looks like a small blueberry or raisin that grows in size as it drinks from the dog. The symptoms of Lyme disease are muscle problems, lethargy and depression. It’s important to note that ticks clamber onto Shih Tzu dogs because they are quite low to the ground but they are equally happy to bury their heads under the skin of unsuspecting humans.
- Mites are tiny little parasites that are usually too small to be seen without a microscope. There are many types of mite and whilst some are harmless others can cause mange inclusive of infection and hair loss. The symptoms of mites are itchy red and swollen skin plus patches of missing hair in Shih Tzu dogs.
The main internal parasites that affect Shih Tzu dogs are worms. There are many types of internal worm and whilst some cause few symptoms others can make Shih Tzu dogs seriously ill.
- Roundworms are the most common type of worm and most live in the intestinal area of the dog after being ingested whilst they were eggs, from eating infected poop or poorly cooked infected meat. Some hook into the intestine wall causing eventual discomfort.
- Tapeworms are another type of digestion focused worm that usually causes no symptoms at all and often very few problems.
The signs that worms are present as eggs in poop, itchy anus areas and loss of condition in Shih Tzu dogs.
The final internal parasites and by far the most serious ones are heartworm and lungworm. These are parasites that head for one of these two major organs as soon as they enter the dog’s body. With lungworm the eggs are coughed into the atmosphere by an infected dog whilst heartworm eggs are eaten alongside eating poop or slugs and their eggs.
If you have any concerns that your dog may be infected by parasites in any way it is important that you speak to your vet. Summer parasites, left untreated, can seriously affect the health and well-being of Shih Tzu dogs.