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American Dog Tick
American Dog Tick

At any given moment, creepy-crawly, blood-sucking, ittty-bitty parasites can be all over your pet. In order to tackle them, you must learn what they are, what they look like, and where to find them on your pet’s skin. Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital wants to help you learn more about pet parasites so you can keep them away from your furry friends.

Time for an In-Home Pet Parasite Check

Parasites on household pets can make everybody sick. Not all pet parasites will find human family members to their liking. Some, like ticks and fleas, carry diseases that can spread to humans. You’ll want to know what to look for to keep pets and humans free from free-loading parasites. 

If your cat or dog is hosting uninvited parasites, they can be experiencing any number of symptoms, including: 

  • Itching and scratching
  • Skin infections that can become serious if untreated
  • Exposure to tapeworms and ringworm (fungus)
  • Ear discharge or blood pockets in the ear canal
  • Scaly patches on the skin or hot spots

Grooming your pet daily is a great way to minimize their risk for parasites. Grooming gives you a chance to find evidence of external parasites before your pet is infested and develops serious health problems. 

What External Parasites Live on My Pets and What Do They Look Like?

  • Fleas—It’s not likely that you will see a flea because they’re so small. Instead, you will see flea dirt. Look for flaky bits of black or brown on your pet’s exposed skin areas. The dirt is both flea feces and dried blood. Flea prevention can help you avoid dealing with these gross stowaways. 
Berks County dog with pet parasites.
  • Ticks—Some ticks are so small you can’t see them until they swell in size from a meal of blood. Before they attach themselves to feed, they are somewhat flat and oval in shape. 
Deer Tick
Deer Tick
  • Mites—There are numerous types of mites, all small but can cause big damage. 
    • If your pet is vigorously scratching its ears, ear mites could be the irritant. 
    • Cheyletiella is a mite that carries dried skin through your pet’s coat. They bite and can leave red, itchy spots on pets and humans alike. They cause dry patches on the skin and can lead to hair loss for your pet.
    • Sarcoptes, also called itch mite, burrows into the skin and can cause severe coat and skin health issues. 
  • Lice—These critters, though small, are large enough to see. They have wings and six legs. Some chew the skin and cause irritation. Some feed on blood. Flea types discriminate between cats and dogs and humans. If hungry enough, however, dog and cat fleas will leap on a human for a meal.

All the parasites lay eggs that will grow to maturity on your pets if not properly treated. If you see one, call your Berks County veterinarian to help your pet get rid of these parasites for good.

Can I Rid My Pet of Parasites?

Yes, you can get rid of pet parasites. It’s important that you speak with your veterinarian before applying pesticides or home remedies. What may work for your dog could seriously harm your cat. Schedule a wellness check to talk to us about your pet’s wellness and parasite control. Remember, parasites can breed disease and cause severe discomfort for your pet. Itching triggers scratching which can lead to skin infections. If you suspect your pet has external parasites, call us at Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital with your questions and concerns.