Puppy Parasites

Important Puppy Parasites: Fleas, Ticks, Mites, Heartworm, Worms

There are several types of internal and external parasites in dogs. Puppies are at particular risk as their immune system is not fully developed, so these unwanted passengers can cause them serious health issues. This article discusses important puppy parasites and how you can provide protection for your puppy.

Puppy parasites
Puppy parasites


The important internal parasites that can affect puppies and dogs are heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms.

Heartworms in dogs

Heartworm disease can be fatal if left undiagnosed or untreated. Even when it is diagnosed, treating heartworm disease is not without risks. That’s why preventing heartworm disease in your puppy is so important. Heartworm is transmitted between dogs by mosquitoes. Although heartworm disease is most commonly found in regions where mosquitoes are more prevalent, it is not only confined to these areas, with cases of heartworm disease diagnosed in nearly all parts of Australia. Young puppies can be bitten by mosquitoes so it is important to start heartworm prevention early.

Learn more.

Roundworms in dogs

It is common for puppies to get roundworms from their mother. This can happen when they are in the womb, or through her milk when they are feeding. Puppies can also be infested by ingesting eggs from a contaminated environment or by consuming worm-infested rodents or birds. Signs of roundworm infestation in puppies may include a pot-bellied appearance, stunted growth, diarrhoea and lung damage, however some puppies may show no obvious signs. Humans can become infected with roundworm through accidental ingestion of eggs from a contaminated environment. Roundworms can migrate through the human body and cause damage to organs including the brain, eye and other tissues.

Learn more.

Hookworms in dogs

Hookworms have biting mouthparts that attach to the lining of a dog’s intestine. They feed on blood and so hookworm infestations can cause anaemia. Hookworm infestations can cause very severe disease and can even be fatal, especially in puppies. Hookworms that affect puppies and dogs can also infect and cause disease in people.

Learn more.

Whipworms in dogs

Whipworms live in a dog’s large intestine. They can cause diarrhoea (sometimes bloody) and severe infestations can result in anaemia, weight loss and in some cases, even death. Dogs become infested by ingesting whipworm eggs from a contaminated environment. Whipworm eggs are very resilient in the environment, remaining viable for years even under extreme environmental conditions.

Learn more.

Tapeworms in dogs

Dipylidium caninum, the flea tapeworm, is the most common tapeworm that affects puppies. As fleas are the intermediate host for this species of tapeworm, infestation with this worm can be prevented with effective flea control.
Another tapeworm, the hydatid tapeworm, may be found in rural areas in dogs fed raw offal or dogs that scavenge on native wildlife, such as kangaroo or wallaby carcasses. Hydatid tapeworm can cause significant illness in humans, so speak with your vet to find out if your dog may be at risk.

Learn more.

Do you know which external parasites can affect puppies and dogs?

Read on to find out more about fleas, ticks and mites.

Puppy parasites 1
Puppy parasites 2
Puppy parasites 3



Fleas are small, wingless insects known for their exceptional jumping ability. Fleas are more than just a nuisance - they can cause itchiness and skin disease and heavy flea infestations can cause more serious disease such as anaemia, particularly in puppies. In addition, fleas can transmit diseases to both pets and people.

Learn more.


Australia is home to a number of tick species that can affect puppies and dogs. Of greatest concern is the potentially deadly paralysis tick which affects an estimated 10,000 dogs and cats each year. A single adult female paralysis tick can kill a puppy if left untreated, so preventative strategies are essential.

Learn more.


Infestation with mites can cause severe irritation to the skin and ears of your puppy. This condition, known as mange, can significantly impact your dog’s quality of life. There are three different types of mites that affect dogs: Demodex mites, Sarcoptes mites and ear mites.

Learn more.

What are the symptoms of parasites in dogs?

Body Copy

There can be many different symptoms of parasites in dogs depending on which type of parasite is involved.

  • Fleas can cause scratching, itching and biting. There may be loss of hair, red and bumpy bites and red patches on the skin. Secondary bacterial infections can occur.
  • Paralysis ticks can cause signs including a loss of coordination in the hind legs (which may progress to paralysis), a change in voice or bark, vomiting, coughing and laboured breathing.
  • Symptoms of mites will vary depending on the type of mite involved:
    • Sarcoptes mites: Intense itching, hair loss and skin infections.
    • Demodex mites: Hair loss, skin thickening and skin infections.
    • Ear mites: Scratching around head and ears, head shaking, dark discharge and unpleasant odour from the ears.
  • Heartworms may cause no obvious signs early on, however, as the disease progresses dogs may develop signs such as coughing, lethargy, exercise intolerance, weight loss and difficulty breathing.
  • Intestinal worms can cause signs such as vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, anaemia, weight loss and poor coat appearance
parasite_icons parasite_icons

How to treat and prevent puppy parasites?

Using an effective parasite control product is an essential part of owning a puppy. NexGard SPECTRA® makes parasite protection easy. It provides the most complete protection against fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and intestinal worms, all in one tasty, monthly chew. It can be used in puppies from 8 weeks of age and 1.35 kg bodyweight.


never miss a dose
never miss a dose

Have reminders sent directly to your phone

Copyright and Trademark Notice

NEXGARD SPECTRA®, NEXGARD®, HEARTGARD30® and PARAGARD® are registered trademarks of the Boehringer Ingelheim Group.
©2021-2023 Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Australia Pty. Ltd. All rights reserved. PET-0228-2022 PET-0203-2023