top of page

Comprehensive Guide to Managing External Parasites in Dogs and Cats

External parasites such as lice and mites can cause significant discomfort and health issues for dogs and cats. Understanding the types of parasites and how to effectively treat them is essential for maintaining the health and well-being of your pets.

Common Types of Mites and Lice in Dogs and Cats

1. Demodectic Mange:

  • Cause: Caused by the mite Demodex canis, which is typically a normal inhabitant of the skin. Problems arise when these mites multiply beyond what the dog can tolerate.

  • Symptoms: Patchy hair loss, usually around the eyes and face, often with a greasy or moist appearance.

  • Transmission: Not contagious; dogs acquire Demodex mites while nursing during the first two weeks of life.

  • Genetic Factors: Some dogs have a genetic predisposition to develop Demodex due to an immune deficiency.

2. Sarcoptic Mange:

  • Cause: Also known as scabies, caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite.

  • Symptoms: Intense itching, scratching, hair loss, and inflamed skin, starting at the ears, elbows, and hocks.

  • Transmission: Highly contagious among dogs, all dogs in a household should be treated simultaneously.

  • Diagnosis and Treatment: Requires a visit to the veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment, which usually includes medicated baths and topical treatments.

3. Cheyletiella Mange:

  • Cause: Known as "walking dandruff," caused by Cheyletiella mites.

  • Symptoms: Scaly skin with mild itching. The mites are visible and can look like moving dandruff.

  • Transmission: Can spread to cats, birds, and humans. In humans, it can cause pimple-like lesions on the arms.

  • Treatment: Requires thorough cleaning and multiple treatments to eliminate mites from all affected pets and the environment.

4. Ear Mites:

  • Cause: Specific mites that live in the ear canal and surrounding areas.

  • Symptoms: Intense itching, ear scratching, head shaking, and dark ear discharge.

  • Diagnosis and Treatment: Requires veterinary examination and prescribed ear medications to eliminate mites.

5. Lice:

  • Cause: Lice are species-specific parasites that infest dogs or cats.

  • Symptoms: Tiny white nits (lice eggs) attached to hair shafts, intense itching, and scratching.

  • Transmission: Through direct contact or shared grooming tools, bedding, and other items.

  • Treatment: Involves topical or oral treatments to kill lice and thorough cleaning of the environment.

Effective Treatments for Mites and Lice

1. General Treatment Protocol:

  • Simultaneous Treatment: Treat all pets in the household at the same time to prevent re-infestation.

  • Re-treatment: Since treatments often only kill adult parasites, re-treatment is necessary two weeks after the initial treatment to eliminate newly hatched parasites.

  • Topical and Oral Medications: Various medications can be used, such as ivermectin (oral or topical), but specific care must be taken with breeds sensitive to ivermectin.

2. Specific Treatments:

  • Demodectic Mange: Treatment may include medicated shampoos, dips, and oral medications prescribed by a veterinarian.

  • Sarcoptic Mange: Requires medicated baths and possibly oral medications. All dogs in the household should be treated.

  • Cheyletiella Mange: Multiple treatments are necessary to kill all mites and eggs. Clean the environment thoroughly.

  • Ear Mites: Use prescribed ear medications and follow the veterinarian’s instructions carefully.

  • Lice: Use species-specific lice treatments and clean the environment to prevent re-infestation.

Biosecurity Measures

1. Isolation:

  • New arrivals should be isolated from other pets for at least three weeks.

  • Maintain one empty kennel between new and existing animals.

2. Preventative Treatments:

  • Treat new arrivals with appropriate parasite preventatives before integrating them with other pets.

  • Regularly vaccinate and deworm all pets to maintain overall health.

3. Environmental Control:

  • Clean and disinfect all bedding, grooming tools, and living areas regularly.

  • Maintain strict hygiene practices to prevent the introduction and spread of parasites.

By understanding the types of external parasites and implementing thorough treatment and biosecurity measures, you can effectively manage and eliminate lice and mites from your pets, ensuring a healthier and more comfortable life for them.

Parasites in Dogs
Parasites in Dogs


Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page