Educational Articles

Dogs + Parasites

  • Anaplasmosis is a disease that affects dogs, but can also affect people. It rarely affects cats. Multiple species of ticks can transmit the disease. Diagnosis is relatively simple and treatment is effective.

  • Cheyletiellosis is an uncommon but highly contagious skin parasite of dogs, cats, humans, and rabbits caused by Cheyletiella spp. mites. The most important clinical sign of cheyletiellosis is scaling or dandruff. Due to the large size of the skin mite, it is easily seen under a microscope set on low magnification. Cheyletiella mites are susceptible to most topical insecticides and the prognosis is excellent.

  • Coccidiosis is an intestinal tract infection caused by a single-celled organism (protozoa) called coccidia. Some infections in dogs are not associated with any detectable clinical signs; however, puppies and debilitated adult dogs may have severe watery diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal distress, and vomiting. The most common drug used to eliminate coccidia is a sulfa-type antibiotic, sulfadimethoxine. Reinfection of susceptible dogs is common, so environmental disinfection is important. Good hygiene and proper disposal of dog feces are important in minimizing the risk of transmission of all canine parasites to humans or other animals.

  • Cuterebra are botflies that spend the larvae stage of their lifecycle within rodent or rabbit hosts and can accidentally infect dogs. They enter through the nose, mouth or a skin wound. They usually develop a cyst under the skin that can be located as it enlarges and often a breathing hole can be seen. The larva (warble) will leave the dog when it is ready to form a pupa but it will often leave behind a secondary bacterial skin infection or abscess in the empty cyst. Rarely, the larva/cuterebra migrate aberrantly through the dog causing inflammation and damage to different tissues, including the brain and eyes, and even potentially cause a severe systemic inflammatory response. Treatment depends on what damage has been done and can include removal of the warble, debridement or removal of the cyst, antibiotics and symptomatic and supportive treatment of the results of aberrant migration. Prognosis is generally good if only the skin is involved. Cuterebra infection can not be prevented easily, so monitoring the dog regularly for signs is important.

  • Mange is a parasitic skin disease caused by microscopic mites. Two different mange mites cause skin disease in dogs. Demodectic mange, sometimes just called 'demodex' or 'red mange', is the most common form of mange in dogs. Demodectic mange most often occurs when a dog has an immature immune system, allowing the number of skin mites to increase rapidly.

  • Dipping for demodectic mange may be done by the veterinary health team, or at the owner's home. These instructions will help the dog owner treat their pet for mange in their home.

  • The ear mite is a surface mite that lives on cats, dogs, rabbits, and ferrets. It is usually found in the ear canal but it can also live on the skin surface. Mites are barely visible to the naked eye. Clinical signs of infestation vary in severity and may include ear irritation, leading to scratching at the ears or head shaking, dark waxy or crusty discharge from the ear, areas of hair loss resulting from self-trauma, a crusted rash around or in the ear, and an aural hematoma. Your veterinarian will advise you about which insecticidal products are suitable. Your veterinarian may want to re-examine your pet to ensure that the mites have been eliminated after the initial treatment has been performed.

  • Echinococcus multilocularis is a tapeworm species that is found in the Northern Hemisphere. Dogs, cats, and humans are all susceptible to infection by E. multilocularis, along with additional species. While the parasite typically produces no clinical sign in cats, it can have life-threatening effects in humans. E. multilocularis is impossible to distinguish from other tapeworm species without specialized testing, but it responds to the same dewormers that are used to treat other tapeworm species. Therefore, pets suspected of having tapeworms should be treated promptly and care should be taken to avoid direct contact with animal feces.

  • Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is a leading cause of allergic reactions in dogs. It is the antigens or proteins in the flea saliva that cause an intensely itchy response to sensitive dogs. Itching and hair loss in the region from the middle of the back to the tail base and down the rear legs (the flea triangle) is often associated with FAD. Strict flea control is essential in the prevention and treatment of FAD. Occasionally corticosteroids are used to reduce the itching in patients with severe signs of FAD.

  • Successful flea control involves both eliminating fleas from your dog and controlling fleas in your environment. Dogs and cats share the same fleas, and fleas can travel from one animal to another. Therefore, it is important that all pets in your home are on a flea preventive program. Successful flea control includes treating both your pet(s) and the environment.

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