Dogs, just like cats, can be affected by parasites. There are several families of external and internal parasites. Among the external parasites found in dogs, there are insects (fleas and lice), mites (ticks, chiggers) and fungi. To fight them effectively, and therefore choose the right treatment, they must be identified. Here’s everything you need to know about external parasites in dogs.
Fleas: the most common parasites
Fleas are insect-like parasites. These are the most common in dogs. They affect a third of canines. All dogs can get fleas whether they live in the countryside or in the city. There are several types of fleas but the one that is mainly found in France is Ctenocephalides felis. It is an obligatory parasite, so it feeds on the blood of the animal on which it has taken up residence.
A dog catches fleas from contact with another animal that is already infested. It can be a dog or a cat. Contamination occurs through the eggs which are present on the hair but also in the environment of the animal and especially its basket or cushion.
Fleas present risks for the dog, these risks are pathogenic. You should know that fleas bite dogs for food. These bites cause itching, which can be intense, and allergies. In addition, fleas can be carriers of disease. Vigilance is therefore essential.
Lice: the parasites of dogs living in communities
Lice are external parasites, also of the insect type, which can be found on dogs. Two species of lice infest dogs. They cling to the animal’s hair and lay eggs. You should know that these parasites do not affect all dogs. They are found in farms, shelters or kennels. It is very rare in domestic canines. The lice infestation is called phthiriasis or phthiriiasis. It is caused by direct contact with an animal or object carrying lice. The presence of lice in dogs is almost asymptomatic. It is characterized by moderate itching and a duller coat.
Ticks: XXL mites
Ticks are mites. Unlike those that are present in our homes, they are large in size and even visible to the naked eye. Like fleas, ticks are obligate parasites that feed on the blood of dogs. Ticks can live for several years. They lay more eggs in the spring and fall. The most common ticks are:
- wood ticks or Ixodes ricinus,
- Dermacentor reticulatus,
- indoor ticks or Rhipicephalus sanguineus.
The dog catches ticks in places where these parasites are naturally present. Ticks can be a source of bacterial, parasitic and viral diseases. They must therefore be located and removed.
Chiggers: small chiggers
Chiggers are small mites that are very common in dogs. They particularly affect canines which spend time in private and public gardens. Chiggers are also called Trombicula autumnalis. They are seasonal pests that are rampant in summer and fall. The larvae of chiggers are very present on plants. They infest animals when they pass near plants. Then, they feed on their blood to become chiggers. These settle where the dog’s skin is thin. They evolve in groups and form small orange scabs. These parasites cause itching and allergies.
Scabies: a parasite transmissible to humans
Scabies is a mite-like parasite that can affect canines. Also called Sarcoptes scabiei, this microscopic mite lodges in the skin of the animal. It is very common in hunting dogs and community dogs. The itching is intense and can cause lesions on the dog’s skin. Mange is spread very easily from dog to dog.
It should be noted that there are several types of scabies. Ear mites is another form also known as Otodectes cynotis. As the name suggests, it affects the ears of canines and develops into the ear canal. If the dog is affected by ear mites, the earwax is black and thick.
Other mites can affect dogs. Among them are:
- Demodex canis, a microscopic mite that causes demodicosis (hair loss) and very unpleasant inflammation,
- Cheyletiella yasguri, a mite responsible for pseudogale and which mainly affects puppies.
Ringworm: a fungus parasite
Ringworm is a fungus-like parasite that is very contagious. It should be noted that some breeds have predispositions. This is the case with all terriers and causes hair loss but no other symptoms.
How to treat parasites?
Because they can have an impact on the health and well-being of the dog, it is imperative to eradicate the parasites. To do this, it is necessary to identify the type of parasites. If you have any doubts, a veterinary consultation is necessary. The professional will be able to auscultate your canine and even prescribe the right treatment.
Most often, parasites are treated with antiparasitic shampoos. Treatments last 2 to 3 weeks. At the same time, and depending on the parasites, it will be necessary to treat the dog’s environment and therefore yours. This requires a thorough cleaning. Tissue treatment is also to be expected. It concerns sofas, armchairs, rugs, cushions, blankets and curtains. It is also necessary to treat the basket and the cushion of the dog. Only by treating your animal and its environment will you get rid of parasites.
Depending on your dog’s state of health, the veterinarian may prescribe medication if necessary. This is the case if lesions have become infected or if your pet is having an allergic reaction.
How to prevent the appearance of parasites?
To reduce the risk of parasites, we must focus on prevention. Several products are available. You can opt for a topical format. The principle is simple, just empty a pipette at the dog’s neck. You can also opt for tablets or a flea collar. In any case, you will find the treatment at the vet or in a pharmacy.