Heartworms, Fleas and Parasites – Oh My! #SentinelSpectrum

Dont' let parasites get you downWe all know that parasites are bad, but you may not know exactly what they are and what they do. Today we’re going to cover the 6 most common types of parasites that can infect your dog – from annoying to deadly. As well as how you can prevent all 6 with one affordable monthly chew from Virbac® Sentinel® Spectrum®.

This post is sponsored by Virbac® Sentinel® Spectrum® and the BlogPaws® Pet Influencer NetworkTM. I am being compensated to help create awareness about protection against common parasites found in dogs but we only share information we feel is relevant to our readers. More information about Sentinel Spectrum. Virbac is not responsible for the content of this article.


Heartworms are transmitted via mosquitoes. An infected mosquito bites your dog and transfers young heartworms which develop in your dog’s circulatory system and lungs. When full grown, these heartworms cause lethargy, weight loss and breathing difficulties. Left untreated they will restrict blood flow and are fatal.

Heartworm infections have been diagnosed in all 50 states and over 300,000 indoor and outdoor dogs are diagnosed each year. [i] While medical treatments have improved over the years and heartworm infection doesn’t have to be a death sentence, the treatments are expensive, long (often involving long bouts of crate-rest) and stressful for both the pet and pet parent.


Fleas are wingless insects (but boy can they jump!) with mouths designed to pierce skin and suck blood from their host. Adult fleas you can actually see only make up 5% of the flea population. The other 95% is made up of eggs, larvae and pupae that can be lurking inside your home, yard or dog park. [i]

This winter, when I assumed the flea population would be long dead (aha, but they were living inside my climate controlled house, weren’t they?) I dealt with a flea infestation on both of my dogs. My vet told me that long gone were the days of giving your dog a single flea bath or topical treatment and calling it a day. As we created ways of dealing with fleas, fleas evolved to stay alive despite them!

Since 50% of the flea population at any time is in the egg stage, the best way to stop a flea infestation in its tracks is preventing the eggs from hatching.

fleas_luferon_pyramidimage source: Sentinel Pet

Tape Worms:

Tape worms are an intestinal parasite acquired most often by ingesting an infected flea. [ii] Tapeworms are usually diagnosed when owners notice what appears to be “rice” in their dog’s poop. Tape worm infection can cause weight loss and diarrhea, with or without blood.


Whipworms are acquired by eating anything that is infested with whipworm larvae – food, water, soil, plant matter, etc. Adult whipworms burrow into the large intestine, causing bloody diarrhea and discharge. Dogs then pass eggs in their stool and the eggs live on in the soil. [iii]

Pug actually had whipworms when we found him and my vet told me once they’re in your yard they are there for good. Unfortunately, most heartworm preventatives don’t cover them (as you might have guessed, Sentinel Spectrum does).


Roundworms are the most common worms found in dogs and can infect puppies before they’re even born. Eggs can live in infected food, water, feces and dirt and are transferred via milk when a dog is nursing. Roundworms can cause lethargy, abdominal swelling and coughing. [iv] Besides being polite, cleaning up after dog poop is the best way to prevent the spread of disease!


Hookworms do not have to be ingested to cause infection. They can be contracted through a dog’s paw pads or any part of their body that contacts a contaminated surface. Additionally, puppies can contract them through their mother’s milk .

Hookworms live in the small intestine and cause anemia and inflammation. They can be deadly especially to puppies.[v]

What do I do?!

Pug Heartworm Test

Whew. After reading all of that, being a dog mom or dad may seem, well, scary. But thanks to modern veterinary medicine we can prevent or kill all of these nasty parasites before they become a problem! The first step is to book an appointment with your vet to get a quick blood test for heartworms (we were in and out in under 10 minutes). Once they’ve been cleared, your vet can give you a prescription to begin Sentinel Spectrum.

Sentinel Spectrum is a once-monthly beef and bacon flavored chew that:

  • Prevents heartworm infections
  • Kills adult tape worm, whipworm, hookworm and roundworm
  • Prevents flea eggs from hatching, thereby controlling flea population

Pug has been on Sentinel Spectrum now for two months. As part of an ongoing awareness campaign, we will be checking in again about our experience in the following months.

To learn more about Sentinel Spectrum and parasites, visit the Sentinel website.

[i] https://www.sentinelpet.com/uploads/documents/sentinel-spectrum-product-insert.pdf

[ii] http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/dog-tapeworms-symptoms-treatments

[iii] http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?c=3307&articleid=2163

[iv] http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/infectious-parasitic/c_multi_ascariasis

[v] http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/infectious-parasitic/c_multi_ancylostomiasis

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Virbac® Sentinel®. The opinions and text are all mine.