A dog owner has to have an idea what kinds of skin parasites can affect the dog. Most of these parasites would cause severe itching. The pet would suffer immense discomfort but aside from this fact, parasite infestation often causes a number of health concerns. These diseases that vary from being mild to severe will affect the wellbeing of the pet. Also, the disease or the parasite itself can be transferred to the pet’s human family.
Skin, the largest body organ of a dog has a very important role in this animal’s existence. Tough and elastic, the skin protects the dog from the elements and guards against fluid loss that can result to dehydration. The follicles on the surface of the skin where hair grow are the reasons why you can hug your pet. A dog’s skin though is subjected to wear and tear from the dog’s innate chewing, biting and licking behavior. Dogs are very active animals thus the skin often gets a rough treatment from barbed wires, from broken glass and from thorns. The skin is also subjected to external parasite attacks.
Most dog owners have dealt with fleas, ticks and mites. These are the common external parasites that can infest the dog. A flea infestation will cause severe itching. The dog will be seriously affected especially if it is hypersensitive to flea bites. Tapeworm infestation is common in dogs infested with fleas as fleas are vectors of tapeworm. Ticks do not cause itching but the dog is at risk for Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever as ticks are carriers of these diseases. Fleas and ticks are not the only enemies of both dog and dog owner. There are other skin parasites that can attack the dog. Not many dog owners are aware that these parasites would cause other diseases. Babesiosis disease occurs when ticks transmit babesia protozoa to the dog. Babesia infection will result to anemia as the red blood cells are attacked by the protozoa. Ehrlichiosis is another disease caused by tick infestation. Ticks transmit the Ehrlichia bacteria that attack the white blood cells so that infected dogs would suffer from recurring undetected infections.
Ear mites are tiny parasites that live inside the ear canal of the dog. With the use of a magnifying glass, these parasites would appear like white specks that scurry inside the dog’s ears. Ear mites feed on the ear debris causing inflammation that can result to secondary infections when scratched by the dog. Cheyletiella mites that live on the dog’s skin would result to a condition known as “walking dandruff” as aside from the itchiness and irritation, the mite’s movements on the dog’s skin would appear like shifting dandruff. Mange is a skin disease that is caused by another skin parasite, the demodex mite. This kind of mite are normal inhabitants of the dog’s skin but certain conditions that would weaken the dog’s immune system would give the parasite a chance to attack.
Cuterebra parasites are found under the skin of the dog. Cuterebra are branded as opportunistic parasites. The parasite is actually the larva of the cuterebra, a genus of the botfly. Adult botflies would not bite or feed on the dogs but would use the dog instead to complete the life cycle of its larva. Eggs that are deposited on plants and on other objects will stick to the skin when the dog passes by. The dog’s body heat will bring about the hatching of the eggs and once hatched, the larva would enter the body through an open wound or through the mouth. The larva will then travel to the skin and make a lump where it will stay until it develops into an adult fly.
Healthy skin mirrors the general health of the dog. It is therefore necessary for an owner to make sure that skin parasite infestations are resolved.