Other Common Parasites
Ear mites (Otodectes cyanotis) are tiny parasites that live on the skin in the
ear canals of dogs and cats.
How do pets become infested with ear mites?
The parasites are transferred easily from one animal to another by direct
What are the signs of infestation?
Mites are extremely irritating to pets. Vigorous scratching at the ears and
shaking of the head are common signs of infestation. A build-up of dark, waxy
material is evident in the ear canals.
How is the infestation diagnosed?
Ear mite infestation is diagnosed by examination of the ear debris under the
microscope to detect the presence of mites. An ear smear or ear cytology is
What problems do ear mites cause?
Ear mites survive by feeding off the lining of the ear canal. This activity
causes inflammation and the build-up of waxy debris.
Ears infested with mites are susceptible to bacterial infections. A hemotoma,
a bruise or blood clot under the skin, may also develop on the ear flap as a
result of the scratching and head-shaking. Surgery is often required to correct
Tapeworms are common intestinal parasites of dogs and cats.
How do pets become infected with them?
Fleas, lice, small mammals, fish, moose, sheep, swine, cattle, and horses, can
carry an intermediate stage in the life cycle of the tapeworm. These animals are
called intermediate hosts. Dogs and cats become infected with tapeworms by
eating intermediate hosts or uncooked meat from them. Tapeworms mature in the
intestines of dogs and cars and discharge tiny egg-containing segments. These
segments are passed in the pet's feces (stools). Thus, the environment is
contaminated, intermediate hosts are re-infected, and the life cycle of the
What problems do tapeworms cause?
Tapeworms can cause health problems in dogs and cats, because parasites absorb
nutrients from the intestinal tract, depriving pets of adequate nutrition. A
more serious condition caused by tapeworms is intestinal blockage.
What are the signs of tapeworm infection?
Often an infected pet will scoot along the ground on its rear to relieve itching
caused by crawling, egg-containing segments. Other symptoms include mild
diarrhea, gas, vomiting, and lack of energy, weight loss, and a dull coat.
How is it diagnosed?
Diagnosis is based on the presence of tiny, white tapeworm segments (resembling
cucumber seeds) in fresh feces around the animal's anus, or in the bedding. A
microscopic fecal examination is useful in detecting the presence of tapeworm
What is the treatment?
Treatment consists of prescribed drugs given during office visits. Follow up
treatments may be needed later at home.
How can you prevent re-infection?
Try to prevent your pet from coming into contact with intermediate hosts such
as fleas and small mammals. Treat for flea infestation by following a preventive
program consisting of house and yard treatments and products such as Advantage
or Frontline for your pet. When possible, curb your pet's tendency to kill and
eat small mammals. Also, eliminate raw meat and fish from your pet's diet. If
you wish to feed fish or meats to your pet, cook them well before doing so.
Finally, all animals, especially those that are exposed to fleas or are habitual
hunters, should be checked regularly for tapeworms. We offer a wide variety of
Can people become infected with tapeworms?
Yes, but in most cases, the problem can be prevented by good hygiene.
Hookworms are common parasites that live in the intestines of dogs and cats.
How do pets become infected?
An infected animal passes hookworm eggs in its feces (stools). The eggs hatch
into larvae that can penetrate the skin of the foot. These larvae may also be
swallowed accidentally with food or water. They also can be ingested when an
animal sniffs a contaminated area. One type of hookworm can infect fetal pups
by migrating across the placenta. It also can infect nursing puppies via the
dam's milk. Larvae that have been swallowed mature in the animal's intestines
and lay eggs, which are passed in the feces. These eggs hatch into larvae and
can re-infect the animal or spread to others. Larvae that penetrate the skin
make their way to the blood stream and, eventually, to the lungs. These larvae
are filtered out of the lungs, coughed up, and swallowed. After reaching the
intestines, the larvae mature and lay eggs that contaminate the feces.
What problems do the parasites cause?
Hookworms can cause severe, even fatal, blood loss. With tiny "teeth", they
tear out small pieces of the intestinal wall for nourishment, leaving bleeding
wounds. Some hookworms suck blood directly from the wall of the intestine.
What are the signs of hookworm infection?
Common sings of this disease include dark stools, bloody diarrhea, weight loss,
dry coat, lack of energy, and pale gums in an anemic animal. Anemia is a state
in which an animal experiences a harmful decrease its total number of red blood
cells or hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein theses cells contain.
How is the infection diagnosed?
A microscopic examination of a fresh fecal sample is performed to detect
What is the treatment?
For mild cases, treatment consists of appropriate deworming medication
administered in the clinic or at home. In cases where blood loss has resulted
in severe anemia, the animal is hospitalized for blood transfusions and
supportive therapy. Young and/or ill animals are more severely affected than
healthy adult pets. A fecal sample should be examination after deworming
medications are given. Larval stages of hookworms migrating through the lunch
may not be affected by deworming medications. Often, it is necessary to repeat
these medications when larvae mature into adults in the intestine or when
How can you prevent re-infection?
Clean the yard, kennel, and/or litter box often (especially during the 24 to
48 hours after deworming medication is given) to prevent contact with
contaminated feces. You can purchase monthly preventatives at our clinic.
Can people become infected with hookworms?
Yes. When hookworm larvae contact bare skin, they can penetrate and migrate to
produce an itchy dermatitis called creeping eruption. To prevent infection,
avoid skin contact with feces or contaminated soil. Always wear gloves when
cleaning the yard or kennel.
If you suspect any parasites in your pet please call 813-973-3951 to schedule