External parasites include fleas, mites, lice and ticks. At some point in your animals life they will suffer from the discomfort caused by one of these parasites. By preventing infestation you are helping to prevent your pet from suffering skin disease and irritation or other disease. Many can also infect people - so also protect you and your family.
Fleas are the most common parasites caught by pet cats and dogs.
Adult fleas are small wingless creatures known for their extraordinary jumping ability. They cling to your pets fur and when they bite, fleas ingest their blood. Sometimes all that can be seen is flea faeces, often mistaken for dirt.
A female flea can lay up to 200 eggs, which immediately drop to the ground where they will hatch into larvae, feeding on flea droppings and other debris. When fully mature the adult flea will sense the host and jump on. The eggs can lay dormant in carpets, flooring etc for many years until optimal conditions are reached and then hatch causing an infestation. If you find fleas on your pet, their eggs and larvae will also be found in your pets bedding, carpets, making it a good idea to treat the home as well as your animal.
Fleas are recognised as a major cause of skin disease in cats, dogs and other small animals commonly resulting in skin complaints, as the flea saliva is a severe allergen, they can also cause anaemia and act as the intermediate host for the tapeworm.
Biting lice have adapted mouths that rasp the surface of the skin and they feed on the resulting debris causing skin irritation. A common symptom would represent as a dry or scurfy coat.
Ticks attach themselves by inserting their mouth parts into yours dogs skin and feed from the blood. Ticks are capable of causing disease the most common is Lyme's disease, which can also be contracted by humans if a tick attaches to them.
Ticks are often confused with moles, check with one of our nurses if you are unsure.
DO NOT try and remove by just pulling them off, please ask for advice, if the mouth part remains in the skin it can cause severe irritation. A cheap plastic tick remover is available to purchase from Alphapet
Tick prevention is vital for travelling pets where tick borne parasites are prevalent.
This is a mite that lives on the skin surface of dogs, cats, rabbits and humans. It us also known as 'walking dandruff' due to the skin scales being carried by the mite. They don't burrow into the skin but live in the keratin level. It causes a mild dermatitis but symptoms vary from intense itching, scales on the skin to hair loss. This mite is highly contagious through direct contact.
Photographs below showing a microscopic flea and a rabbit showing the classic symptom of cheyletiella.