Dogs External Parasites
FleasThese small, black, fast moving pests, about Vs inch long, feed on your dog’s blood. They are extremely hardy and can live up to four months without a meal. They also have long legs that make it easy for them to jump from dog to dog or cat, searching for a host to feed on. Adult fleas live and breed on the dog. The females lay eggs which drop off the host, hatch into wormlike larvae, and complete their life cycle. Fleas especially like to hide in the dog’s bedding, in carpets, and on chairs, sofas, and draperies. It has been said that for every flea found on a dog, a hundred or more are lurking nearby. Since they multiply at an amazing rate, lose no time in dealing with them.
What harm can fleas do? They transmit several viral and bacterial diseases and are the intermediate host for a species of dog tapeworm. They irritate the dog by constant jumping; they keep him awake nights with their biting. Their blood sucking also causes anemia in young or sick dogs. They can cause flea allergy dermatitis, a skin disease that is character ized by pruritus and lesions. And last but not least, fleas can ruin a good coat by inflaming and irritating the skin. Dogs that are kept free of fleas seldom have skin problems.
If your dog is infested with fleas, control involves not only treating the animal but also his environment. Begin by washing the dog’s bedding and all other washable doggy articles in hot water. Thoroughly vacuum the carpets, floors, and crevices, then remove the vacuum bag from the house as soon as possible. Fumigate your premises: do it yourself or hire a professional exterminator. A second fumigation within fourteen days may be necessary. If your dog spends a great deal of time outdoors, spray the patio, the lawn, and other areas he frequents with a yard and kennel spray.
While you are meticulously treating the environment, it is also necessary to attend to every pet in your house. Use a fine comb and powder the hair thoroughly with flea powder. Then go over each pet, inch by inch. The powder will numb the fleas so they are more easily removed. The pests will be found mostly around the root of the tail, the ears and neck, and under the legs. These are favorite hiding places, but be cause fleas move like lightning, they may be found anywhere at all. The black, grainy deposits that you may notice on the skin are flea excrement that can be dissolved by washing. If flea powder is not used, you should bathe each pet with an insecticidal shampoo. Once fleas are removed, the use of flea collars (a solid mixture of plastic and highly concentrated, time released pesticide), in combination with sprays and powders, will help prevent reinfestation.
Always check with your veterinarian before selecting a flea killer. Be sure all products are safe for use on dogs (or cats) and that they are used according to package directions.
Flea eradication is difficult and time consuming, and special vigilance is required in “flea season,” when these pesky creatures flourish. Flea season usually extends from late spring until the first frost in some parts of the country; in hot climates it lasts year round.
LiceThese small wingless pests are equally annoying. They do not move about like fleas but hook into the skin, hold fast, and suck the dog’s blood. In fact they suck so closely be neath the hair as to almost defy detection. One sure way to confirm the presence of lice is to look for the eggs or “nits” that are laid by the female. These hatch on the dog and will be attached to the hairs. They can be seen with the naked eye, but unless you look carefully or use a magnifying glass, you might miss them. They are ash colored and no larger than the head of a pin. Adult lice may be missed at a casual glance, too, but if your dog is scratching, and you find signs of dirt but no fleas, look thoroughly. The skin will usually be red dened in spots where the lice suck. Dips and shampoos formulated to kill fleas on dogs will also kill lice.
TicksThese eight legged pests are the hardiest and most dangerous of the bloodsucking parasites. Ticks can transmit several diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. They are found in warm, moist places: woods, high grass, beaches, and bushes. When a tick bites, its barbed proboscis pierces the dog’s skin, and as it sucks the blood, it grows to about one third of an inch. Mating takes place on the host, then the female drops off and looks for a concealed place to lay her eggs. Inside your house, this could be in the carpets, the baseboards, under the furniture, or be hind the drapes.
Ticks cannot be removed by combing but must be pulled off by tweezers or, if you don’t mind, with your hand. Soak the ticks in alcohol to help paralyze them and loosen their grip. Then grasp each tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight out, making sure that no part of the head re mains in the skin to cause infection. Protect your fingers with paper if you don’t use tweezers. Once the tick is removed, swab the area with an antiseptic, then wash your hands thor oughly with soap and water. Eradication involves treating the dog and his environment. Tick dips will help prevent reinfestation.
Incoming search terms:
- dogs with external parasites