What are parasites?

Which parasites infest dogs?

Parasites are organisms that live in or on another organism or host, obtaining from it part or all of their nutriment. Parasites that live on the body of a host are called ectoparasites, and those that live within their host are called endoparasites.

Parasites are found in every corner of our planet.

Parasites include:

· ECTOPARASITES

o Fleas

o Trichodectes canis (dog biting louse/lice)

o Lice

o Mites

o Mosquitoes

o Ticks

· ENDOPARASITES

o Roundworms

o Hookworms

o Tapeworms, including the fox tapeworm

· ONE CELL PARASITES

o Babesia / piroplasma

o Ehrlichia

o Filaria (e.g. heartworm)

o Giardia

o Hepatozoon

o Coccidia

o Leishmania

o Toxoplasma

· MYCETOID (FUNGUS)

o Microsporum canis

o Trichophyton mentagrophytes

· MICROORGANISMS

o Viruses

o Bacteria

Ectoparasites generally cause severe itchiness and skin reactions. They can be identified with the naked eye (ticks, fleas, and Trichodectes canis), under a microscopic, or via a blood test (mites).

Endoparasites cause a variety of clinical symptoms in dogs, including minor disorders of the gastrointestinal tract with loss of appetite, reluctance to eat, low weight gain, or even weight loss. Serious clinical symptoms that can arise include anemia, protein deficiency, severe loss of water, constipation, diarrhea with blood/mucous, or possibly an intestinal rupture.

Hanspeter Kobold

February 2008

This material is copyrighted by the author. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form, in part or in whole, shall require the express prior written approval of the author. The author welcomes suggestions, comments, or criticism of any kind.

Fleas

Our dogs can be infected by canine or dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis), feline or cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis), or by the human or common flea (Pulex irritans).

Fleas are parasitic insects with a thirst for blood. They are constantly on the hunt for a source, can move quickly through the coat of a host, are largely host-specific, and rarely leave the host voluntarily. Both males and females are vampires that suck blood from their hosts. Adult female canine fleas are between 2-4 millimeters long, while adult male fleas range from 2-3 millimeters in length. Both sexes are dark brown in color, wingless, with strong hind legs that enable them to jump to heights of 30 cm and over distances of up to 50 cm.

Life cycle of a flea

The life cycle of a flea (egg, larva, pupa, and imago) lasts three weeks to two years, depending on the climatic conditions. A female flea lays 3-18 eggs on its host dog, which require at least 3 weeks to develop into adult fleas. The lifespan of a female flea is 1-2 years, during which time it can lay around 500 eggs!

Infestation symptoms

There is no doubt that our dogs they suffer greatly from these bloodsuckers! A quadruped infested by fleas feels unwell, and scratches and bites itself incessantly.

What happens?

A fleabite basically damages the skin by causing lesions and substances in the flea’s saliva cause itchiness and redness of the skin. An owner usually notices the infestation only after the dog consequently begins to scratch and bite itself a lot.

Primary harm

Itching:

Dogs bitten by fleas often show signs of itchiness.

Secondary infections:

The dog may also suffer from pain at the inflamed fleabites and skin lesions.

Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD):

A saliva allergy (papulocrustous lesions) can cause itchy skin reactions with loss of large patches of hair, mainly on the back, lower abdomen, and the rear side of hind limbs, where the skin also gets red papules. If untreated, the dog loses hair wherever it bites and the patches turn black and leathery.

Anemia:

If the infestation is heavy, a dog and in particular a puppy may become anemic.

Secondary harm

Tapeworms – Dipylidium caninum:

Certain tapeworms use fleas as secondary hosts, in that fleas transmit tapeworms to dog. When a dog bites the fleas on its body, it ingests tapeworm larvae that then mature in the dog’s intestines into a full-grown worm.

Illnesses – bacteria:

These vampires are also vectors for other diseases (bacteria) transmitted while they suck blood.

Diagnosis:

If you suspect that your dog is infested with fleas, first make sure that the dog really has fleas. There is a very common test to help you find the agile and ever-hungry bloodsuckers in your dog’s coat. Simply place a moist piece of kitchen blotting paper under the dog. Then comb the coat thoroughly, preferably with a fine flea comb. It is quite easy to find fleas, their larvae, and tiny red-brown to black particles. If the combed-out particles are flea feces, they will turn red on the moist paper – which means your dog is infested. Most of this excrement contains undigested or coagulated blood.

Humans can get canine and feline fleas – perhaps you are already a host! Ah, did you suddenly feel the urge to scratch?

Treatment:

You are surely asking, “How can I get rid of fleas”?

Fleas are hard to eradicate, because they are increasingly resistant to many medications.

Combating them directly:

The best approach to get a handle on the problem is to eradicate adult fleas on the dog and get rid of the brood of fleas in your own house and the dog’s living sphere. You do this with topical medication that kills adult fleas within a few hours. Shampoos are also very good for killing the fleas immediately, especially if the infestation is extensive.

After that, apply growth regulators that hinder the fleas on the dog from maturing. If your dog is allergic to fleas, it will also need to be treated for the allergy. All dogs with fleas should receive a combination treatment with medication against roundworms and be dewormed. Your vet will naturally prescribe all necessary treatments and medication.

Combating fleas in the dog’s living sphere:

The toughest venture is to get rid of every flea in all areas where the dog is present! Remember, you need to worry about more than just the dog’s sleeping basket – by disinfecting every room where the dog has been. And don’t forget the dog house and dog carrier!

Start off by washing all pads, covers, cushions, and bedding – at 60 °C or higher. Then thoroughly vacuum your entire home, all connected rooms, floors, curtains hanging close to the floor, carpets and rugs, baseboards, upholstered furniture, and other pieces of furniture. Then throw away the vacuum bag! After that, spray insecticides in all such areas and on the furniture. Make sure you use a spray or fogger along cracks and joints in floors and walls, and in the mattresses too. This is the only certain way to eliminate at least 95% of the flea population.

Shortly after being laid, flea eggs and feces fall out of the coat of your quadruped. Adult fleas excrete a large part of the blood during the sucking process, in a partly digested form. This waste serves as necessary nourishment for the hatched larvae. You can get rid of flea eggs by brushing boron salts into carpets. These are non-toxic and function for about a year by physically drying out the eggs and larvae.

My reason for writing such details on how to eradicate fleas from the dog and its living sphere is that about 95% of the fleas are found there. But fleas can also survive for up to three months outside of their host. That is why it is critical to eradicate the entire population of fleas to relieve your dog, and you too, from the problems they cause.

How you can avoid fleas:

Keep your dog away from infected animals!

Since fleas are becoming increasingly resistant to medications, it is getting harder to treat flea infestation. Therefore, protect your dog with a compound against which they have not yet developed any immunity.

The most effective medications are topical ointments applied directly on the skin between the shoulder blades. The dog cannot lick these spots, and the medication penetrates the skin and spreads across the entire surface of the body. These medications are stored in the skin and protect the canine for 4-12 weeks, depending on the particular product. All the products kill fleas, while some of them like Frontline®, Exspot® and Scalibor® also function as repellants by warding off the parasites such that they leave the animal before they begin to suck blood.

You can also double the protection by having the dog wear a flea and tick collar. The medicated collar exudes off the medication continuously over a long period. Some collars may need to be removed before bathing the animal, to hinder reducing their effectiveness. If you choose a spray, spray the dog all over to make sure it is adequately protected. Your vet will naturally guide you on taking the necessary preventive measures.

Disclaimer

The author has exercised his best knowledge and belief when writing the above articles and content, which are purely for purposes of providing information for visitors. The content of the Web site www.familial-shar-pei-fever.de does not replace professional diagnostics, advice, and treatment by a vet. The information is presented here as accurately as possible and in good faith and trust in the professional integrity of the sources. The author of this site has not evaluated the statements about products and health conditions, whereby any details of diagnostics, therapies, and medications are not intended as recommendations of any kind whatsoever. Never give your dog any medicines or medicinal herbs without consulting your vet. Since the author is not a qualified medical practitioner or vet, he does not accept any liability whatsoever for providing the information herein.

Copyright ©2002-2007 Hanspeter Kobold. All rights reserved.

Lice

I will focus here on dog biting lice (Trichodectes canis)!

Dog biting lice are very annoying parasites similar to other lice in terms of their physical structure and living habits. Of over 2,600 known species, various types infest different kinds of mammals. These parasites are largely host-specific. This means that dog lice will not infest a cat or a horse, for instance. If removed from their host, they can survive for barely eight days.

Dogs are seldom infested by lice, with puppies typically being targeted under unhygienic conditions. Most lice live in and around the head, throat, and breast of the animal. Compared to other ectoparasites that infect dogs, lice are considered mostly harmless.

Although they look similar to other lice, the heads of dog lice are somewhat broader than the rest of their body. They are very agile and fast movers, and they irritate the dog’s skin to cause severe itchy reactions. These 1-2 mm long, wingless parasites are visible to the naked eye, and have a brownish white oblate body, which is light-colored on the abdomen. Lice have sharp mouthparts, strong jaws, and claws on their feet. They nourish themselves from dandruff, cutaneous gland secretions, and hair fragments. Despite their small size, lice can chew off tiny bits of hair and skin. But they do not suck blood!

Life cycle of lice:

A louse develops entirely on the body of its host, over a cycle of 2-6 weeks. It grows into an insect directly without going through a pupal or resting phase. It is like a grown insect in the larva stage, since full metamorphosis (holometabolic development) does not take place.

Female lice lay eggs (nits) about every 2-3 days, laying a total of about 20 nits that stick to hair shafts with a glue-like substance. Larvae begin to hatch in 5-8 days, at which point they look almost like a fully grown, sexually mature insect. A total of three larvae stages occur. Disengaged from a host, the ova survive for 2-3 weeks, for example in the host’s bedding. They have a lifespan of 2-3 months.

Transmission:

Lice are transmitted by direct contact from one animal to another. Hence, transmission by combing or brushing is rare. In most cases, lice infest animals that live in unhygienic conditions and are generally very weak, very young, abandoned, neglected, and have a matted coat. Severe infestations are more likely to occur in winter, and an entire litter may be infested.

Symptoms:

An infestation means you can either see the little white nits of the lice, about the size of a needle head sticking to hair shafts, or you can see the roughly 1.5 mm long lice crawling about deeper in the animal’s coat.

Direct harm:

Itching:

The crawling lice and the resultant itchiness cause nervousness in your dog that scratches itself incessantly. Severe infestations also lead to hair loss.

Secondary inflammation:

The dog may also suffer from pain at the inflamed bites and skin lesions.

Indirect harm:

Tapeworms – Dipylidium caninum:

Your dog may be infested with this species called the cucumber or double-pored tapeworm, if it has nipped infected lice harboring the worm’s larvae. These intestinal parasites reach a length of 50-80 cm and are prevalent along our latitudes. They are absolutely harmless for humans. The shape of Dipylidium caninum reminds one of cucumber or pumpkin seeds – hence the common name.

Transmission to humans:

After a dog ingests lice serving as intermediate hosts, tapeworm cysticercoids are released into the mouth of the dog and may be transmitted to humans via its saliva when it licks someone.

Diagnosis:

Lice can be identified as small black dots in the coat, mostly on the flanks, stomach, and around the head. They are easy to see under the microscope using a simple sticky tape swab.

Treatment:

You need insecticides to kill lice. Repeat the treatment after one to two weeks, because the chemicals are not effective enough on the nits, and retreatment will kill any lice that have hatched in the meantime.

Getting rid of lice in the dog’s living sphere:

It is not necessary to treat all the areas where the dog lives, just his sleeping basket and bedding.

How you can avoid lice:

Keep your dog away from infected animals!

The most effective way to prevent your dog from getting lice or other ectoparasites is to take proper preventive measures and use modern topical ointments or a medicated collar. The topical medication penetrates the skin and spreads across the entire surface of the body. These medications are stored in the skin and protect the canine for 4-6 weeks. They also function as repellants by warding off the parasites such that they leave the animal. Your vet will naturally guide you on taking the necessary preventive measures.

Disclaimer

The author has exercised his best knowledge and belief when writing the above articles and content, which are purely for purposes of providing information for visitors. The content of the Web site www.familial-shar-pei-fever.de does not replace professional diagnostics, advice, and treatment by a vet. The information is presented here as accurately as possible and in good faith and trust in the professional integrity of the sources. The author of this site has not evaluated the statements about products and health conditions, whereby any details of diagnostics, therapies, and medications are not intended as recommendations of any kind whatsoever. Never give your dog any medicines or medicinal herbs without consulting your vet. Since the author is not a qualified medical practitioner or vet, he does not accept any liability whatsoever for providing the information herein.

Copyright ©2002-2007 Hanspeter Kobold. All rights reserved.