Illustrated Articles

Dogs + Parasites

  • Diarrhea is a symptom of an underlying problem that may be minor or very serious. Some cases may resolve on their own or with minimal treatment, while other cases require in-depth diagnostic testing and more aggressive treatment to address the underlying condition. The possible causes, diagnostic tests, and treatment protocols for diarrhea in dogs are numerous and are explained in this handout.

  • 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.

  • Fleas are the most common nuisance and parasite affecting dogs, and an infestation can lead to serious health problems. Flea control requires a three-pronged approach; they need to be eliminated from 1) your dog, 2) any other cats and dogs that you have, 3) your home and yard. There are many flea control products available and your veterinarian can help you determine which are the safest and most effective for your pets.

  • Fluralaner is given by mouth or applied topically and is used to treat flea and tick infestations, and also off-label to treat certain types of mange and mites. Give as directed. Side effects are uncommon but may include stomach upset or neurologic symptoms. Do not use in pets with a history of seizures. If a negative reaction occurs, please call the veterinary office.

  • Giardiasis is an intestinal infection in humans and animals, caused by a microscopic protozoan parasite. The parasite occurs worldwide and is a common cause of "Traveler's Diarrhea" in people. Outdoor enthusiasts who inadvertently consume contaminated water may develop "beaver fever", which is another name for giardiasis in people.

  • Harvest mites, also known as red bugs, trombiculid mites, scrub-itch mites, berry bugs or, in their larval stage as chiggers, are mites that are commonly found in forests and grasslands. Harvest mites are relatives of spiders. They are nearly microscopic measuring only 1/100 of an inch (0.4 mm) and have an orange hue. A common species of Harvest mite in Northern America is Trombicula alfreddugesi.  

  • Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease. It is caused by a blood-borne parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis. Adult heartworms may live up to five years and, during this time, the female produces millions of offspring called microfilaria. You can prevent your dog from getting heartworms by using a heartworm preventive.

  • Heartworm disease is serious and potentially life-threatening to dogs. Treatment involves several components to combat potential bacterial infection, kill the heartworm larvae (microfilaria), kill the adult heartworms, and then test to confirm successful treatment. Complete rest for a dog undergoing treatment is essential. The prognosis for dogs after heartworm treatment is generally good if the pet owner follows all veterinary recommendations closely.

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Summerfields Animal Hospital is a full-service, AAHA accredited animal hospital for small pets including dogs, cats, avian and exotics.

We understand and value the mutual affection, trust and loyalty that bind owners with their pets and believe the best approach to preserve that relationship is through practicing excellent medicine.

When sick, you want only the best care for your faithful pet companion. We work hard to provide exceptional care for your pet and outstanding customer service in a state-of-the-art environment.

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