The Most Common Parasites Found in Domestic Pets

The Companion Animal Parasite Council stresses the importance of parasite prevention in households with domestic pets. Parasites can rob your pets of important nutrients to develop and fight diseases. They can bring pathogens that can make you and your pet sick. Knowing these parasites can help motivate you to practice regular parasite prevention. Here are the most common parasites that target domestic pets.


External Parasites


Pets often experience irritation and discomfort because of external parasites. Mites, fleas, or ticks attach to their skin. The parasites also live in the inner part of the ears. Skin problems and diseases may also arise because of external parasites. Here are some of them:

  • Demodectic mange mites are microscopic parasites. They do not transfer to other animals or species. Pets often develop scaly, red patches of skin around their mouth and eyes. These patches can also appear on the trunk and legs. Hair loss may also occur with crusting. Pets with demodectic mange often have secondary infections that need more treatment. 

  • Ticks thrive in wooded places with shrubs and brush. They can also stay in areas with thick layers of dead leaves or tall grass. Immature ticks often attach to small, wild animals in the bushes, prairies, or forests. Adult ticks look for larger animals such as domestic pets. They can transmit infectious diseases like Lyme disease or tick paralysis. 

  • Fleas love humid and warm weather. These parasites may be year-round or seasonal issues. Fleas exist in areas where other pets are. Adult fleas are almost as big as sesame seeds. 

They are brown and quick-moving on your pet’s skin. The female adults will begin laying eggs once they choose your pet. They can lay up to 50 eggs a day. You will know if your pet is infested if you see flea dirt and hot spots on your pet’s skin.

  • Ear mites stay in the ears and the area around them. Your pet can get in from an infested pet or bedding. The vet can see if your pet has ear mites by taking a sample of the coffee-grain discharge in your pet’s ears and looking at it under a microscope. 

  • Sarcoptic mange is also known as scabies. This is a contagious disease caused by sarcoptic mange mites. These parasites burrow through the upper layer of the dog’s skin. This causes intense itching. Crusting, hair loss, and skin rashes are symptoms of scabies in domestic pets. 


Internal Parasites


Internal parasites in domestic pets are either single-celled organisms or parasitic worms. These organisms take your pet’s nutrients from the inside. They thrive inside your pet until symptoms such as weight loss occur. Here are the common internal parasites in domestic pets:

  • Roundworms are common parasites. Your pet can get this parasite from contaminated water, soil, or fur. Female dogs can infect their puppies at birth. Female cats infect their kittens through their milk. 

  • Hookworms go through the inner lining of your pet’s mouth or on your pet’s skin. Female dogs can pass the infection through their milk. 

  • Tapeworms are like strips of tape. Your pet can get these parasites by eating infected lice or fleas. Tapeworms live and thrive in your pet’s small intestines and absorb your pet’s nutrients. 

  • Whipworms look like little whips. Your pet can get these parasites by licking contaminated paws, fur, or soil. Severe infestation can lead to blood loss, diarrhea, and weight loss. 

Being aware of the most common parasite in domestic pets can help you become more attentive to your parasite prevention practices. At the Animal Hospital of Salinas, we help our pet parents provide their pets the most adequate care possible. You can visit our facility in Salinas, California, for a one-on-one consultation. Call 831-346-0600 to schedule an appointment or ask more questions about our parasite preventatives.

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