Skin Parasites in Dogs

Information on the symptoms of common external skin parasites on dogs.

Select a Topic

  1. What are Skin Parasites?
  2. What Causes Skin Parasites?
  3. Diagnosing Skin Parasites
  4. Help for Skin Parasites
  5. More Information on Skin Parasites

What are Skin Parasites?

A parasite is an organism that gets its nourishment by feeding either on or within another animal and it is fairly common for our pets to become the unhappy hosts to a number of unwanted organisms. Dog skin parasites are the external parasites such as ticks, fleas and mites.

Fleas are especially worrisome for pet owners and their pets alike. Getting rid of fleas is no easy task, and sensitive pets may even develop an allergy to flea bites resulting in a condition called flea bite dermatitis. Other common dog parasites such as sarcoptic mange mites and ticks can be incredibly harmful to our beloved pets, but the good news is that most external parasites can be avoided to a certain extent with preventative treatments and thorough grooming.

Skin parasites can cause a variety of conditions that include:

  • Flea Bite Dermatitis
  • Sarcoptic mange
  • Demodectic mange
  • Scabies

What Causes Skin Parasites?

External parasites are a part of the environment and they will jump at any opportunity to attach themselves to a comfy host such as your pet. Keeping your pets out of long grass and making sure their immediate environments are parasite free will go a long way in preventing parasites such as ticks and fleas. Exposure to other dogs and cats (in kennels) can also increase the risk of skin parasites greatly.

Diagnosing Skin Parasites

Your veterinarian will generally check for any signs of parasites when you take your pet in for a check-up. However, because there are so many different types of parasites the signs and symptoms vary greatly. External parasites are usually visible to the naked eye so when grooming your pet it is always a good idea to check for any signs of ticks, mites or fleas.

Skin parasites like mites, fleas and other tiny organisms are a common source of skin problems in dogs, such as dry, flaky skin and itching. Skin parasites can also lead to chronic skin infections, canine skin sores and patches of fur loss in dogs.

Symptoms of skin parasites in both cats and dogs include:
  • Itchy Skin
  • Frequent Scratching and licking
  • Skin Sores and Scabs
  • Skin Scaling
  • Dandruff, White Flakes
  • Black Dirt-Like Dots on the Skin
  • Skin Redness
  • Skin Inflammation
  • Hair Loss
  • Thin Fur
  • Dull Fur
  • Coarse Fur

Help for Skin Parasites

There is no single treatment that will kill all parasites, but there are a number of different products that will help keep skin parasites in check and treat symptoms of skin problems. Remember that prevention is the key and all pets should be on some form of preventative treatment to keep parasites at bay.
There are a number of products such as Frontline Plus, Revolution, and Advantage that can help to keep your pet free from external parasites like ticks and fleas. Be aware that even trusted brands contain harsh chemicals that may be harmful to your pet in the long term.

More Information on Skin Parasites

Tips related to skin parasites
  • The first tip on how to treat external parasites on your pet is getting rid of the parasites in your environment. Collect all bedding, rugs, blankets and cushions that your pet has contact with and wash them in hot water. Vacuum every room in the house and try get to those hard to reach places such as cracks in the floor boards and behind furniture.
  • If parasites are still a problem then a fogger may be useful. Remember that pets must be removed from the house and the area thoroughly aired before your consider bringing pets back.
  • The next step is controlling the parasites on your pet and this should be done at roughly the same time as the house. There are a number of effective products on the market so ask your veterinarian to prescribe one that is safe and most suitable for your pet.
  • A natural way to help prevent parasites is to add a little garlic juice to your pet’s food.
  • Opt for an easily washable bed for your pet. All pet bedding and cushioning should be washed regularly to prevent infestation.
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