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Canine Parasites

Dog Ticks

Ticks can be picked up from other dogs or animals, and should be dealt with immediately, to prevent infestations. Some species of ticks can go up to 2 years without feeding, so it can be difficult to know when they have been eradicated. Ticks attach themselves to dogs and feed on the blood of the animal. They can be difficult to spot, until they begin gorging themselves on the host.

When removing ticks it is important that the tick be removed cleanly, to do this use tweezers and grab the tick as close to the skin of the dog as possible. Use a straight motion (don't twist the tick) and then disinfect the area. You should monitor the area of skin for any sign of infection over the next few weeks. Ticks also carry Lyme disease. If living in or visiting an area that is known to be source of ticks, please ensure that your dog is treated with preventative repellant/insecticide. For more information you should consult with your vet.

Dog Fleas

Fleas feed on blood and leave itching sores on the dogs skin. Some fleas will also feed on humans too. Fleas breed quickly and if not tackled immediately, your home can become quickly infected. There are numerous products for prevention of fleas - such as topical ointments and collars. Most will work on both ticks and fleas. And shampoos and dips will remove the fleas from your dog. However, if you have an infestation the most successful method is usually flea medicine. Flea medicine works by preventing the flea from reproducing - if fleas cannot reporduce they will eventually die off. However, this in itself might not be enough fleas can survive for quite some time in the carpet and the dogs bedding. There are various foggers sprays and powders that can be applied to these areas, and should be used in conjunction with the other methods. If you are not sure what to do please consult with your vet.

Dog Mites

Ear Mites are almost microscopical parasites that can cause ear and skin infections in dogs. They are spread by direct physical contact between animals. Ear mites are very difficult to diagnose (as dogs are prone to ear infections anyway) and a veterinary confirmation is advised. Treatments include topical applications and injections.

Cheyletiella Mites can cause problems in any dog, but is more common in puppies. This mite is responsible for a skin diorder that is often reffered to as "walking dandruff". Although it is not regarded as a severe problem, Cheyletiella mites are highly contagious and can cause problems for kennels that raise puppies.

Infection by the mite is usually through direct contact with another dog. Symptoms of the disease are usually mild irritation and scaly patches of fur. This parsite can easily be diagnosed as the white mites are quite conspicuous, and can be usually detected with a magnifying glass or the naked eye. Treatment is usually quite simple and usually consists of bathing the infected canine in a insecticidal bath and/or various medications.

Demodecosis (Demodex) is an inflammatory parasitic disease of dogs characterized by the presence of a large number of mites. Although, the mite, Demodex canis, is often found of the skin of a dog and it is not a problem in small numbers. Problems begin then the Demodex mite proliferates and large numbers of the mites begin appear on the animal. There are various theories about why these proliferations ocur, but most believe it has to do with problems or changes to the canines immunological response.
There are two forms to this disease - "Localized Demodecosis" - in which hair loss and inflammation appears in small patches, and "Generalized Demodecosis" - the disease has progressed to the stage where lesions can be found in the skin and secondary bacterial infections occurs.
In 9 out of 10 cases, the Localized version can be healed and the disease will not progress to the second stage. However in the case of Generalized Demodecosis it is usually more about controlling the disease than curing it. Treatment usually includes Amitraz, antibacterial shampoos and antibiotic creams. The disease should be evaluated by a professional veterinarian.

Sarcoptic Mange is caused by the microscopic Sarcoptes scabei mite. The female Sarcoptes scabei mite burrows into the skin depositing 3-4 eggs in the tunnel behind her. The eggs hatch in 3-10 days producing a larva which, in turn, moves to the surface of the skin surface, where the morph into adults and restart the life cycle.
The mites cause itching through their own motion and the allergic reaction of the host animals skin. Sarcoptic mange can be difficult to diagnose, but is fairly easy to treat. Treatments include anti-mite dips, and other medications. Your vet will be able to tell you which course of treatment to pursue.

Worms

The Heartworm parasite is spread by mosquitoes. Once it has entered the dogs bloodstream the larvae begins its journey toward the heart, and the parasite is usually ready to reproduce in 6 months. Over time the arteries around the heart and lungs become infested with these creatures (that can grow to 12 inches in length), and this will usually result in the death of the dog from congestive heart failure. Symptoms can take as much 12 months to show, and usually include a soft cough, breathing problems, easily tiring and sometimes coughing up blood. Fortunately there are a few simple tests that a veterinarian can perform to diagnose this condition, and if the disease has not progressed too far it can be treated. However, as with any other disease prevention is preferable and there are topical and oral medicines that will keep the heartworm at bay. This disease is most prevalent anywhere up to 150 miles inland of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, along the Mississippi River and other areas with high Mosquito populations.

Roundworms - there are two species, that affect dogs. Roundworms eggs can be ingested with food or water, soil, or in the case of some puppies passed through by an infected mother. Once inside the host, Roundworms multiply by laying eggs that are excreted in the feces of the animal, where the develop into larvae and wait for another host.
Infections can lead to digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach, gas and bloating. If roundworm infections are left unchecked they can cause nutrient deficiencies, weight gain, fatigue, and many other more serious conditions.
Roundworms are diagnosed by the eggs in the fecal matter. The infection is easily treated through medication.

Tapeworms are flat, ribbon-like parasites that live in the intestines of the dog. Dogs usually become infected by tapeworms when they ingest a flea containing tapeworm eggs. Howevever in some cases tapeworms can be caught by eating the raw flesh of other animals.
Generally a tapeworm infection is not particularly harmful, although it might cause weight loss, and irritation of the stomach. Infection is usually diagnosed by partial worm segments in the stool. A regular fecal exam will not usually detect the presence of tapeworms, and veterenarians usually depend upon the canine's owner to spot the problem. The condtion is easily treatable with medication.

Protozoa (single celled organism)

Giardia infection occurs through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. It is a fairly common problem in kennels due to its infectious nature.
Medication is available and treatment usually involves isolating infected individuals in a holding area and disinfecting the entire kennel area. Giardia can survive for a month in damp areas, so it is advisable to wait that long before repopulating the area. Giardia is preventable if water supplies are clean and feces are kept well away from living areas.

The Coccidia is another single celled organism, and like Giardia can be prevented by keeping dogs in sanitary conditions and away from the feces of other dogs. Coccidia is quite common in puppies, it destroys the intestinal cells and usually results in dahorrea. However, the disease is easily diagnosed and treatment is relatively inexpensive.

Cryptosporidiosis (also known as "Crypto") is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic Cryptosporidium parasites. Once an animal or person is infected, the parasite lives in the intestine and passes through the feces of the animal. The parasite can be found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have contact with feces. Symptoms include diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, stomach irritation and nausea and the disease can persist for a few weeks.
Following sanitary procedures will usually prevent reoccurrences of this problem. Areas that are used by the dog should be thoroughly cleaned, however the Cryptosporidium is protected by an outer shell that it very resistant to chlorine-based disinfectants.

Protozoa (single celled organism)

Giardia infection occurs through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. It is a fairly common problem in kennels due to its infectious nature.
Medication is available and treatment usually involves isolating infected individuals in a holding area and disinfecting the entire kennel area. Giardia can survive for a month in damp areas, so it is advisable to wait that long before repopulating the area. Giardia is preventable if water supplies are clean and feces are kept well away from living areas.

The Coccidia is another single celled organism, and like Giardia can be prevented by keeping dogs in sanitary conditions and away from the feces of other dogs. Coccidia is quite common in puppies, it destroys the intestinal cells and usually results in dahorrea. However, the disease is easily diagnosed and treatment is relatively inexpensive.

Cryptosporidiosis (also known as "Crypto") is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic Cryptosporidium parasites. Once an animal or person is infected, the parasite lives in the intestine and passes through the feces of the animal. The parasite can be found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have contact with feces. Symptoms include diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, stomach irritation and nausea and the disease can persist for a few weeks.
Following sanitary procedures will usually prevent reoccurrences of this problem. Areas that are used by the dog should be thoroughly cleaned, however the Cryptosporidium is protected by an outer shell that it very resistant to chlorine-based disinfectants.

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