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Fleas, Ticks and Mites, Oh My!

Garry L. Neale

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External parasites are common among most dogs. An external parasite is an insect that lives off the blood supply of the host. The common parasites found on dogs are; fleas, ticks, mites and lice.


Fleas are parasites and derive most of their food supply from their hosts. Fleas not only feed off dogs, but will bite just about any other mammal they come in contact with, including humans. A dog that has a heavily infestation will scratch themselves constantly which leads to other secondary skin problems. Fleas are also a host for and infect your dog with tapeworms, an internal parasite.

When fleas are fall off or are removed from a host for a period of time, they don't have a food source. As a result, the hungry fleas will attack the first warm-blooded creature that comes near and often times, this mean biting people. The adult fleas live on blood and must have a blood meal in order to reproduce.

In order to get rid of fleas some people try using a flea comb, but this is not very effective and it's also very time consuming. Most dog owners prefer to use a flea shampoo to attack the problem. Shampooing your dog also gets rid of the skin flakes that fall on the ground and act as food for the flea larvae. Flea collars and topical medications are not as effective as shampooing or dipping, but have been shown to help prevent reinfestation.


Dog ticks are another parasite that feeds on blood. Dogs usually get ticks from bushes and shrubbery. These ticks are usually found in the ears, around your the neck or in the creases on the inside of the leg. The ticks can be removed with a pair of small tweezers, but try not to crush the tick while removing as this may cause its saliva to enter the dog's body, creating a possibility of skin irritation or infection. Remove the parasite as gently as possible.

The dog tick is the primary carrier of diseases like canine ehrlichiosis, and in some cases rocky mountain spotted fever, a disease that is also very dangers to humans. Your dogs should be examined closely for ticks on at least a weekly basis if it spends anytime at all outdoors.


Mites are microscopic parasites that burrow their way into the dog's body through the skin. All dogs normally have a small population of mites living on their body. However, a condition called Mange can develop if your dog's immune system is not working properly. If you see your dog is losing hair and patches of bare skin are visible, you need to have it checked thoroughly by a vet. A lot of diseases can cause hair loss, so it doesn't necessarily mean your pet has Mange. But only a vet can tell for sure.

Severe scratching is another sign to watch out for. If your dog scratches a lot, you need to have it checked. Also, as the mite population gets out of control, your dog may take on a strange athlete's foot-like odor.

Ivermectin, a commonly used de-wormer is the most common treatment for Mange. The medication is usually administered orally, but it can be injected under the skin. In sever cases, your vet will usually institute a regimen of medicated shampoo treatments.

Garry Neale is and avid dog enthusiast and creator of the popular e-book, “The Dog Lovers Guide ", a FREE dog owners handbook you can download at no cost from his Dog Lover Website .

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