Parasites & Prevention

Fleas

These parasites feed on blood, causing itching and irritation. Some dogs are allergic to the bite (flea bite dermatitis) which can cause hair loss, skin infections, and inflammation of skin. One flea bite can last up to 10 days. Some medical problems caused by fleas are:

  • Tapeworms (intestinal parasite)

  • Itching

  • Skin conditions (inflammation, irritation, and infection)

  • Anemia

  • Death with heavy infestations

There are 4 life stages in the life cycle of a flea:

Flea EggsFlea LarvaeFlea PupaeAdult Flea
Adult fleas must feed before becoming capable of reproduction.  After feeding, they will lay eggs.  They can lay anywhere from 20-40 eggs each day.  Initially the eggs are laid on the dog’s skin but fall off into the environment.  Flea eggs constitute approximately 50% of the total population.   High humidity and temperature favor rapid hatching.  After 14-28 days the eggs hatch into flea larvae
Flea larvae prefer warm and dark moist areas.  They dislike bright light, and move deep into carpet fibers, under furniture, beds (if your pet sleeps with you), grass, branches, leaves and soil.  Climate controlled homes offer an ideal environment for the flea larvae to live.  They feed off of organic debris found in their environment and/or adult flea feces.  After 1-2 weeks the larvae will weave into a silky cocoon.  This is the flea pupae stage.
Flea pupae can stay in the cocoon for another 1-2 weeks while the adult flea develops.  Once in the cocoon the adult flea can live dormant for up to 9 months, until a host is present.  However, this life cycle could hatch in as little as 5-10 days. While in the cocoon, this is the only stage that is resistant to insecticides.  Once hatched from the cocoon, it is now an adult flea.
The adult flea must feed within a few days in order to live.  Once an adult female feeds, within 2 days she can start laying eggs.  She will live approximately 3 weeks, laying eggs each day.  This means that an adult female flea can lay up to almost 1,000 eggs in her lifetime.  The entire life cycle from egg to adult can be completed in 14-28 days depending on environmental conditions.

Treatment for fleas include 3 different forms:  preventing reproduction, halting the development of larvae, and killing the adult fleas.  When treating, you will want to include your pet, house, and possibly yard.

Ticks

These parasites are known carriers of dangerous diseases to both pets and humans.  They transmit organisms that cause illnesses such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis,Babesiosis, and Tularemia.  There are many different types of ticks and if they are on your pet, you want to get rid of them immediately.  There are topical and collar products that your pet can wear to prevent ticks, but make sure to read all packaging labels before applying the product to your pet. The most effective product we know of is Parastar Plus.

Mosquitoes

This parasite can be a source of deadly viruses and other medical problems such as heartworm disease.  Heartworm prevention is necessary once a month, all year long.  It only takes one mosquito to infect an unprotected dog.  Each year there are almost 300,000 dogs infected with heartworm disease.  This disease can cause heart and lung damage and even death.

Symptoms of heartworm disease:  Coughing, lack of energy, labored breathing, dry coat, and weight loss.  However, in the first stages of heartworm disease the dog may not show any symptoms at all.  This is why we recommend a heartworm test every year for the life of your pet.

Intestinal Parasites:

HookwormsRoundwormsWhipwormsTapeworms

Intestinal parasite transmitted by ingesting infected soil or fecal matter or by microscopic larvae penetrating through the pads on a dog’s feet. This parasite can be contracted by humans and animals.

Symptoms: Weight loss, anemia, and bloody diarrhea

Intestinal parasite transmitted by ingesting infected soil, fecal matter, or by eating infected animals such as rodents. This parasite can be contracted by humans and animals.

Symptoms: Diarrhea, vomiting, stunted growth, rough coat, and bloated belly

Intestinal parasite transmitted through ingestion of the eggs, usually through fecal matter.  This parasite can live in the soil for up to 20 years.

Symptoms:  Diarrhea, anemia, dehydration, and loss of appetite.

Intestinal parasite transmitted through eating wildlife or ingesting a flea.  By keeping your puppy on a monthly parasite prevention, you can greatly reduce your puppy’s chance of contracting internal parasites.