Fleas, Mites, and Ticks
Parasites are common among pets, especially dogs and cats that are allowed to roam outdoors. Various parasites can be native to a location, affecting pets throughout diverse times of the year. Pet owners should take note of the parasites common within their locale and observe their pets during the seasons they are most prone to infection.
The most common flea is the Ctenocephalides Felix, more commonly known as the cat flea, though there are various other types. This particular type of flea is capable of hosting on humans, cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, rats, mice, guinea pigs, ferrets, and birds. These fleas rapidly reproduce and are capable of quickly infesting an entire household with both humans and pets as their hosts. If one pet has fleas, all pets within the household must be treated.
Fleas survive by ingesting the blood of their hosts. When they bite the host’s flesh, their saliva irritates the skin, causing the host to itch which in turn, may cause an allergic reaction. To determine if your pet has fleas, comb a section of hair on their back, towards a white piece of paper. If black flecks, resembling dirt, fall onto the paper, gently drop a very small amount of water onto the paper. If the black flecks begin to turn a rust-colored red, your pet has fleas. The rust hue is resultant of the blood being sucked out of your pet. If nothing comes off of your pet when brushed, or if the black flecks remain black, your pet is healthy.
Household inhabitants with fleas may experience:
Treatment for fleas
If one pet in the household has fleas, all household inhabitants should be treated. Treatment can include either a shampoo or a topical treatment. Shampoos will kill fleas for a few days, whereas topical creams or gels will kill fleas for a few weeks. We recommend using topical treatments for a more thorough solution. If you would like recommendations when choosing a flea preventative, contact our veterinary office, and we would be happy to assist you in selecting a superior product for your pet.
Similar to numerous other parasites, mites exist in multiple forms. The ear mite is the most common type of mite among cats and dogs and frequently causes feline ear disease. Most mites are barely visible, forcing veterinarians to use a microscope to detect them on a pet and to determine the specific type. Most often, a pet contracts mites from another pet or from another pet’s bedding. Some mites, including scabies, are contagious to humans, while others, such as mange, are not.
Symptoms that a pet has mites:
Crusty rash around ears
Dark, waxy or crusty ear discharge
Hair loss from excessive scratching
Large blood blisters around ears
Patches of scaliness
Treatment for mites
After the veterinarian has determined the type of mite bothering your pet through a microscope evaluation, they will determine the best form of treatment. Some mites can be treated with topical medications or oral medication; others are best handled with a medicated bath or dip. Some types of mites cannot be cured, but with the appropriate medication, the condition can be kept under control.
There is no question that pets are curious beings, often wandering into every shrub or bush they can squeeze through. In certain geographical areas, this roaming can cause a pet to acquire ticks. More common in dogs than cats, ticks attach themselves to a pet’s neck, ears, or skin folds. The bites can cause irritation, spread disease, and can eventually cause anemia.
If you live in an area prone to tick infestation, be sure to periodically examine your pet after walks or after they have roamed for long periods outside.
What do I do if my pet has a tick?
Promptly removing a tick upon discovering one is the easiest way to prevent disease transmission. To remove a tick, carefully grip the tick with tweezers as close to the pet’s skin as possible. Firmly pull the tick away from the skin while holding the tweezers tightly closed. After removing the tick, crush it, but avoid contact with the innards, as they could be carrying disease. If you do not pull the tick off just right, the head can remain attached and will continue to infect your pet, so it is critical that you remove the tick in its entirety.
During tick season, try using a tick preventative to reduce your pet’s chances of acquiring ticks, especially if taking your pet through heavily infested areas when hiking or camping.
If you are unfamiliar with tick removal or feel unconfident removing your pet’s tick on your own, contact the veterinarian, and they can remove the tick for you.