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Parasites

  • This handout outlines internal parasites in dogs. Included are parasites of the gastrointestinal tract (roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms), as well as parasites of the circulatory system (heartworm). How each of these parasites can affect your dog and what you can do to prevent or treat infection are all explained.

  • Knemidocoptes is a type of bird mite that typically effects canaries, cockatiels and parakeets. It is commonly referred to as scaly face and leg disease. Specific antiparasitic drugs will be prescribed by a veterinarian to treat this disease.

  • Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by a protozoan parasite transmitted by sandflies and is most commonly seen in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and South and Central America. It has been reported in some parts of the United States. Clinical signs include hard skin nodules, weakness, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and more. Diagnosis is based on travel history, clinical signs, and diagnostic testing. The goal of treatment is to resolve clinical signs. Prognosis is guarded to grave depending on the severity of the disease.

  • Lung flukes in North America are parasites called Paragonimus kellicotti that infect the lungs of cats after they have eaten an infected crayfish or rodents that have eaten infected crayfish. Eggs are then released by the parasite into the cat’s sputum to be coughed out or swallowed and released in the feces to continue the life cycle. Lung flukes can be found anywhere in North America but more commonly around the Mississippi River and Great Lakes. Infected cats can be symptom-free or may develop cough with sometimes bloody mucus, pneumonia, pneumothorax, lethargy and weakness. Diagnosis can include locating eggs of the parasite from feces or mucus from the lungs. X-rays can also reveal cysts in the lungs caused by the parasite. Treatment requires one of 2 commonly used anti-parasitic medications: Praziquantel or Fenbendazole. Although zoonotic, these parasites won’t transmit directly from cats to humans.

  • Lung flukes in North America are parasites called Paragonimus kellicotti that infect the lungs of dogs after they have eaten an infected crayfish or rodents that have eaten infected crayfish. Eggs are then released by the parasite into the dog’s sputum to be coughed out or swallowed and released in the feces to continue the life cycle. Lung flukes can be found anywhere in North America but more commonly around the Mississippi River and Great Lakes. Infected dogs can be symptom-free or may develop cough with sometimes bloody mucus, pneumonia, pneumothorax, lethargy and weakness. Diagnosis can include locating eggs of the parasite from feces or mucus from the lungs. X-rays can also reveal cysts in the lungs caused by the parasite. Treatment requires one of 2 commonly used anti-parasitic medications: Praziquantel or Fenbendazole. Although zoonotic, these parasites won’t transmit directly from dogs to humans.

  • There are many species of lungworm that can cause respiratory problems in dogs. Infection is acquired through either: ingestion of an intermediate host such as snails or slugs, ingestion of animals that have been infected by eating these animals or depending on the species, from an infected dog by contact with saliva, nasal discharge, or contaminated food and water bowls. Lungworms can be found throughout North America and the world with certain species seen in certain areas. Clincal signs can range from asymptomatic to tachypnea, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, respiratory distress or exercise intolerance. The degree of clinical signs is usually proportional to the strength of the dog’s immune system. Diagnosis involves history, physical exam, x-rays and organism identification through either baermann fecal examination or BAL/bronchoscopy. Treatment involves use of specific antiparasitic drugs for various lengths of time depending on type and severity of infection. Prognosis is good but re-infection can occur.

  • The bacterium that causes Lyme disease can be transmitted to dogs through the bite of an infected tick, most commonly the deer tick (black-legged tick), which is found in the midwestern and eastern United States and throughout Canada. The disease typically causes pain and swelling in the affected dog's joints along with decreased appetite and fever. The kidneys are sometimes affected, in which case the disease is often fatal. Diagnostic testing, treatment, and ways to prevent Lyme disease in your dog, including instructions for tick removal, are explained in this handout.

  • Metronidazole is given by mouth or injection and is used off-label to treat certain anaerobic bacterial and protozoal infections and gastrointestinal conditions in dogs, cats, and other animals. Give as directed. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, regurgitation, decreased appetite, tiredness, and drooling. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it, are debilitated, or are pregnant or nursing. If a negative reaction occurs, contact your veterinarian.

  • The two common guinea pig fur mites are Trixacarus caviae (sarcoptic mange mite) and Chirodiscoides caviae. Chirodiscoides caviae mites may cause mild to no clinical signs at all. Trixacarus caviae mites can cause extreme clinical signs because they cause extreme itchiness. Affected skin will get thick, yellowish, and crusty, with hair loss and secondary bacterial skin infection. These mites cause such itchiness that your guinea pig may even go into seizures and die. Your veterinarian will treat the affected animal with topical or injectable anti-parasitic medications, and since mites live in the environment, the environment must be treated, as well. Trixacarus caviae mites are contagious to people.

  • Mites affecting pet hedgehogs, often called quill mites, are fairly common. Initially, an affected hedgehog may become itchy but if mites are left untreated, the clinical signs can become severe. Treatment for your hedgehog should always be under the guidance of a veterinarian.