Dog Behavioral Problems Associated With Parasitic Disease

Some of the problem behaviors in dogs are a result of an infection from a parasite of some kind.  These include internal parasites such as roundworm and tapeworm, flea infestation, ear mites, and Hypermetria.

Many dog owners are not aware that most parasite infections, such as a roundworm infestation, is a condition that requires immediate veterinary attention.  The fact is that it is important for all puppies to be dewormed as well as vaccinated against distemper and hepatitis.

Most problems related to internal parasitism involve owners who do not know about the adverse effects of digestive malfunction, but still expect a young dog to control his loose stools, be able to house train successfully, and learn all the more complicated lessons of being an ideal household pet.  When the puppy does not respond well to the training, the owner sometimes reacts by isolating, punishing or rejecting the pet socially.  The resulting confusion and mismanagement of the pet often produce a wide spectrum of behavioral maladjustment’s.

The following problems are often shown in dogs with internal parasites: Chewing; Digging; Barking; Whining; Unruliness (due to being isolated as punishment); and… Stool eating, which is possibly due to a fecal fixation resulting from excessive punishment associated with stools.

Flea infestation has led to rejection by some dog owners.  Most of them will only try to get rid of fleas on the dog.  They buy a flea collar or flea spray, but usually do nothing about the fleas infesting the dog’s regular sleeping and resting areas.  The result of this is that the dog continues to be infested and is eventually moved to the yard.  The problems associated with such social isolation may then evolve.

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Ear mite infestation led to isolation-based problems involving destructive chewing.  Often, a dog’s constant scratching will drive an owner crazy and will eventually lead to the dog being shut away.  Some dog owners neglect the rather obvious ear odor commonly associated with ear mites, and refuse to handle the behavioral problem until the ear problem clears up.  Consult your vet when you notice a foul odor coming from your dog’s ear.  Your vet will prescribe treatment for the scratching problem which in turn will lead to subsequent behavioral corrections.

It is amazing that most animals displaying signs of hypermetria had histories of heavy roundworm or tapeworm infections as puppies.  In cases of Hypermetria, the dogs tend to bump into objects, usually submerge their noses when drinking, and display an exaggerated fore-throw of the front limbs when walking.

In some cases, dogs that are suffering from this condition are abnormally hostile and seemed to be devoid of long-term memory.  These dogs had to be re-taught simple lessons every day.