Can Dogs Get Swimmer’s Itch?

If you love swimming with your dog in the summer, you might wonder if they can get swimmer’s itch. Swimmer’s itch is a rash that humans can get from parasites in the water. But what about dogs? Can they get swimmer’s itch too?

The answer is yes, but it is not very common. And it can be more serious for dogs than for humans. In this article, we will explain what causes swimmer’s itch in dogs, what are the symptoms, how to treat it and how to prevent it.

What Causes Swimmer’s Itch in Dogs?

Swimmer’s itch in dogs is caused by a type of parasite called Heterobilharzia americana. This parasite is a flatworm that lives in water snails. When the snails release the parasite larvae into the water, they can infect dogs that swim or wade in shallow water.

The parasite larvae can enter the dog’s skin and cause a rash. But they can also travel inside the dog’s body and reach the lungs, liver and intestines. There, they can grow into adult worms and lay eggs. The eggs can cause inflammation and damage to the organs.

The parasite is mainly found in the Gulf coast of the United States, but it has also been reported in other states like Kansas and Utah. The natural host of the parasite is the raccoon, but dogs can also get infected.

Swimmer’s itch is not contagious from dog to dog or from dog to human. The only way to get it is from exposure to water that has the parasite larvae.

What Are the Symptoms of Swimmer’s Itch in Dogs?

Some dogs may not show any symptoms of swimmer’s itch, while others may have mild or severe signs. The symptoms may vary depending on how long the dog has been infected and how many parasites are in their body.

The most common symptoms of swimmer’s itch in dogs are:

– Itchy skin
– Rash or lesions
– Diarrhea
– Vomiting
– Weight loss
– Liver failure (in extreme cases)

If your dog has been swimming in any bodies of water and shows any of these symptoms, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible. The vet will examine your dog and take a fecal sample to test for parasites.

How to Treat Swimmer’s Itch in Dogs?

The treatment for swimmer’s itch in dogs depends on how severe the infection is. The vet may prescribe a deworming medication to kill the parasites and their eggs. The medication may need to be given for several weeks or months.

The vet may also give your dog anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the swelling and pain in their organs. They may also recommend a special diet and supplements to support your dog’s liver and digestive health.

Some dogs may recover completely from swimmer’s itch, while others may have permanent damage to their organs. The prognosis depends on how early the infection is diagnosed and treated.

How to Prevent Swimmer’s Itch in Dogs?

The best way to prevent swimmer’s itch in dogs is to avoid swimming or wading in water that may have parasites. You should check the water quality before letting your dog swim. You should also avoid stagnant or muddy water, as it may have more snails and parasites.

If your dog does swim in potentially contaminated water, you should dry them off thoroughly with a towel as soon as possible. This may help remove some of the parasite larvae from their skin.

You should also groom your dog regularly after swimming, especially if they have long or thick fur. You should check their skin for any signs of rash or irritation.

You can also boost your dog’s immune system by feeding them a balanced diet, giving them enough exercise and keeping them up to date with their vaccinations and parasite prevention.

Swimming can be a fun and healthy activity for you and your dog, but you should be careful about where you swim and how you care for your dog afterwards. Swimmer’s itch is a rare but serious condition that can affect dogs. By following these tips, you can protect your dog from this parasite and enjoy swimming together safely.