External parasites attack the skin, ears, and eyes. While irritating for both the animal and humans in the home, they are seldom fatal. Left untreated, serious complications can arise from secondary infections. The following table contains information about treating external parasites. Always consult your pet agency and a licensed veterinarian before beginning medical treatment.
Ear mites, otodectic mange, ear mange
Ear mites are tiny white parasites that live on the surface of the ear canal and feed upon skin cells and debris.
They reproduce quickly and produce numerous offspring. Ear mites create a flaky, dark brown, sometimes waxy discharge in the ear canal. Most puppies and kittens acquire ear mites from their mother while still in the nest. The infected animal will shake their heads and scratch or rub their ears. These are highly contagious to other dogs, cats, and rabbits. They can travel outside the ear and may be all over the animal’s fur. Treatment includes applying a topical miticide medicine to the ears, cleaning the ears, and thoroughly dusting the infected animal with flea powder or bathing him/her with an insecticidal shampoo. Treatment can also include an injection of Ivermectin, which kills ear mites systemically.
Ticks feed on blood. The insects embed themselves in the skin and causing redness, swelling, irritation, and painful itching. Treatment begins with physically removing the ticks. Prevent the animal from roaming in open wooded areas and around livestock will reduce the chance of getting ticks.
Sarcoptic mange (scabies)
This mange is highly contagious to humans and animals. Sarcoptic mange is caused by a microscopic, spiderlike mite burrowing into the skin and causing the animal to scratch and bite with intensity. Scabs, crust, and hair loss patches occur due to the scratching and biting, and are commonly found on the earflaps, legs, face, and elbows. Consult your peting agency and veterinarian.
Fleas are the most common external parasite. Fleas feed on the animal’s blood and depending upon the severity of the infestation can cause anemia or even death. Signs of infestation include seeing the dark brown insect on the skin along with the eggs (white specks) and feces (black specs). Flea eggs can drop on the carpet, furniture, animal’s bedding, and cracks or indentations in floors. The hatch cycle can take only a few days to complete. .If the animal has fleas, there is a good chance he/she also has tapeworm. This is because fleas are a common carrier of this internal parasite and the fleas are ingested during grooming or licking activity. Another problem is the animal may have an allergic reaction to the fleas if bitten. This sets off a cycle of constant itching and scratching, and the animal will begin to lose hair, especially around the tail. Scratching can severely damage the skin, causing “hot spots.” Control is a multi-step process, which includes treating the animal and the environment. Eradicate fleas from the house and the yard. Treat animals by bathing, dipping, spraying, powdering, or applying topical medications. See your veterinarian if you find fleas on pregnant or nursing animals. Vacuuming the house and washing the animal’s bedding daily is necessary, since insecticides usually do not kill flea eggs unless high concentrations are used. The most effective way to remove eggs from the house is by using a vacuum cleaner. Before you begin, treat the vacuum bag by placing flea powder inside it or spraying it with flea spray. When you finish, empty the bag immediately. .
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