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Detecting a Parasite Infestation in Dogs or Cats

Posted by Petmonde Team on

Wanting to treat your animal against parasites is essential. However, before wondering which pest control method is the most appropriate, you still need to know if your animal is infested. As soon as you see a flea, it is unfortunately too late. It is then necessary to stop their propagation before there is an infestation and to treat the animal as well as its environment.

What pests are we talking about?

External Parasites

The external parasites or ectoparasites that you are most likely to encounter are ticks, fleas and biting lice . These small organisms are chilling, they feed on the animal's blood and dead skin (dander) and cause skin lesions and irritation.

THE fleas for example bite the animal and feed on its blood. It is a scourge because they multiply very quickly by laying nearly 50 eggs each day. It causes eczema and anemia in the animal, and can transmit tapeworm. The dog or cat is contaminated by the eggs of fleas that have nested in their environment (blankets, baskets, wooden floors, etc.).

THE ticks are mites that cling more often to dogs than to cats and push their little heads into the skin to drink the animal's blood for several days. They act alone but carry diseases such as Lyme disease and piroplasmosis, a disease that can be fatal in dogs if left untreated. In general, you are likely to find them in rural and wooded areas.

THE lice , they feed on blood 5 to 6 times a day. In the most severe cases, they cause anemia in the animal.

The list of external parasites is long and there are also chiggers, arachnids present in August which at the larval stage feed on the animal's blood). Another threat, mosquitoes are also ect this is the case of the tiger mosquito which transmits to dogs and cats a virus called dirofilariasis or "heartworm". Infected mosquitoes will bite the animal and allow the worms to penetrate the skin. It continues on its way to the heart of the animal, which causes severe or even fatal heart and respiratory problems. Finally, the bedbugs are insects that bite their occupant and suck their blood; they hide in box springs, clothing or carpets, floor cracks, etc.

Internal parasites

Among the parasites, there are also those that are inside the animal's body: worms , those that we think of less often but whose presence can prove to be just as dangerous for our companions. We distinguish the roundworms recognizable by their spaghetti shape and the flatworms . They are found in the intestine of the animal.

In the puppy we speak of ascarid , a round and elongated worm which develops in its small intestine when it is very small. It is the mother who contaminates it through the placenta or with her milk. Deworming treatment must therefore intervene very early in dogs to avoid infestations of worms.

The presence of tapeworms (tapeworms) is caused by the ingestion of food contaminated with eggs (such as raw meat) and they can be transmitted by fleas.

What are the signs of a parasite infestation on my pet?

dull dog coat

Signs of external parasites

  • The first sign is not necessarily alarming: your pet scratches or licks itself often. However, he may bite himself to try to relieve the itching until it causes an open wound;
  • The general condition of the animal indicates the presence of external parasites: is the coat clean and soft or dull and rough to the touch?
  • A cat that suffers from itching or irritation due to fleas tends to groom excessively;
  • The animal loses its hair;
  • Some parasites leave traces visible to the naked eye on the dog or cat.

Signs of internal parasites

If you notice your pet scratching around its tail or rubbing its hindquarters on the ground, it's likely that worms are colonizing its intestines.

Symptoms that indicate the presence of worms are: weight loss, digestive disorders such as vomiting and diarrhea, a swollen belly, slow growth in puppies, itching in the anus, cough caused by the passage of worms through the esophagus or lungs, a dull and dry looking coat with dandruff.

These symptoms are alarming and require consulting a veterinarian because the worms often risk forming a plug in the intestine or perforating it.

How do I check that my animal is infested with parasites?

  • Check your dog or cat's behavior : he scratches or licks himself too often or you have the impression that he feels discomfort. A scratching dog or cat does not always mean it has fleas, but if you notice the presence of other signs mentioned above, it is very likely that there is an infestation.
  • It is important to inspect your animal manually in order to detect the possible presence of parasites in its coat, even if your animal goes out little or not at all. When the animal is infested with lice, its coat looks dull, dirty and by inspecting it you risk finding larvae. If you see a tick, do not leave it, remove it using tweezers provided for this purpose or tweezers (if you have nothing else available) taking care to that no part of the parasite remains on the skin. The pests are small but can be monitored. The illustration below indicates the areas where pests are most likely to hide. Remember to check your dog after each walk to spot a parasite as soon as possible.
parasitic risk areas of the animal
  • If you don't see the pests at first glance, take a closer look as some leave traces. Fleas, dark brown in color, leave small black droppings on the coat. You can see them by placing the animal on a white or light cloth and combing its coat with a special comb. Residues that remain on the comb or that fall off may be dirt or flea droppings. You are also likely to find their eggs (little white dots). If besides this, your animal loses its hair and scratches its back until it bleeds, it is surely infested. The areas where the fleas are mainly: the line of the back, the base of the tail, the belly, the back of the ears and the inside of the legs.
  • The worms lay eggs (characterized by small white dots similar to grains of rice) which are passed in the stool, and in case of heavy infestation you may even find worms. Check your pet's stool and if your pet is vomiting, watch what it looks like for worms.

Ensuring that your animal is not the victim of a parasite infestation is necessary to preserve your health and yours and to be able to act early enough. However, sometimes this itching originates from another cause. If you have several animals and you suspect the presence of parasites in one of them, pay attention to your other companions because infestations are contagious. Once the pest control infestation has been spotted, here are some tips to get rid of it: How to effectively treat your animal against parasites .


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