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Other Common Parasites






Ear mites

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 contact.

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 necessary.

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 hematomas.


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 tapeworm continues.

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 eggs.

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 products.

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 hookworm eggs.

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 re-infection occurs.

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 an appointment.


Whipworms are intestinal parasites of dogs.

How does a dog become infected with whipworms?

Infected dogs pass whipworm eggs in their feces (stools). Other goes become infected when they ingest these eggs.

What problems do that parasites cause?

Whipworms attach to the wall of the gut and suck blood for nourishment. This causes inflammation and irritation of the gut and results in diarrhea.

What are the signs of whipworm infection?

If the infection is mild, there may be no obvious signs. In more serious cases, signs may include weight loss, diarrhea with blood or mucus, and possibly anemia.

How is it diagnosed?

A microscopic examination of a fresh fecal sample is performed to detect whipworm eggs.

What is the treatment?

Therapy consists of administration of an appropriately prescribed deworming medication that kills the worms.

How can you prevent re-infection?

Feces should be removed from the kennel and yard and disposed of elsewhere. This is especially important after deworming medications have been given. We offer one a month preventatives for your pet. Fecal samples should be examined after the animal has been dewormed and the periodically to make sure re-infection has not occurred.

Demodex Mites

Demodex mites live in the hair follicles of most normal dogs. Most dogs have a small number of mites. Usually, the mites are harmless and are not contagious to dogs, humans, or other species. However, in certain instances, based upon age, gender, genetic factors, and disorders of the immune system, the number of mites found can quickly skyrocket.

Typical signs of infestation with these mites vary, but generally involve hair loss, redness of the affected area and reoccurring bacterial skin infections. There are two forms of the disease: juvenile onset (usually localized and self-limiting) and adult onset (usually generalized and much more serious).

In the generalized form, two or more feet can be involved, more than five areas of hair loss or redness exist, or the entire animal can be affected.


Performing a deep skin scrape and identifying them under the microscope diagnose Demodex Mites. For some dogs a skin biopsy man be necessary for diagnosis.


Adult onset forms are difficult to treat and may indicate something is interfering with or suppressing the immune system. Chronic drug use (for instance steroids), cancer-chemotherapy drugs and other diseases can all be underlying causes and lead to adult onset demodex. Juvenile-onset forms of the syndrome ordinarily occurs in puppies under 18 months, is usually very localized, and as much at 80 percent of affected dogs return to normal within three months with no treatment of their lesions. Juvenile- onset demodex usually respond to a variety of treatment. Generalized forms of the disease do not respond until the underlying cause is identified and treated. For puppies we can recommend several safe and effective therapies to eliminate the mites. Treatments usually continue until two or three consecutive skin scrapes are negative for the mites.