Monday, February 06, 2006

External parasites, the most common ones

General Health Care: External parasites, the most common ones
Nienke Parma
Healthy animals have a natural resistance against parasites. The body’s acid-alkaline balance is such that it doesn’t make a good home for viruses, germs, or other parasitic infestations. Therefore, when the animal shows any illnesses caused by parasites, especially when it is recurring, it’s advisable first to question the cause of it’s weakened immune system. Often an insufficient diet is at the bottom of it, like cheap commercial pet food.
The common exto-parasites can be divided in surface-dwelling parasites which can be seen with the naked eye like fleas, lice and ticks, a fungi called ringworm, and those that live under the skin-surface: sarcoptic and demodectic mange mites.
Fleas are black-brown blood-sucking insects that rapidly moves through the animal’s fur. If there are only one or a few fleas it’s hard to find them. Their black, sand-like droppings indicates their presence. Cats, street and stray dogs can suffer severe flea infestation.
Lice, much less common, are slow moving and are light-colored. They are found particularly on the earflaps, but can spread all over the body. There are two kinds of lice: biting lice that feed on skin scales and blood-sucking lice.
Ticks are usually found around the head, neck, ears or feet, but also on other body parts. Two main kinds of ticks can be distinguished: the ones with a flat ‘hard’ protective shield or plate on the back and more round ones with a ‘soft’ shield. The latter are greyish of color and the hard shielded ones are brown. It’s the female that can swell to the size of a pea when feeding on the host. Ticks thrive very well in hot and humid climate and, although, not so common on cats as they groom themselves well, to dogs they can be a real plague.
Ringworm is one of the most common fungal diseases of dogs and cats and highly contagious, also to people. It is not a worm, but a plantlike growth that lives on the most superficial outer layers of the skin and the nails. Diagnosis can be done through microscope examination of skin scrap-ings, fungal cultures or under an ultra-violet lamp where the affected skin will glow green.
Mites are microscopic little insects. Sarcoptic mange or scabies is another highly contagious disease that also can be transmitted to people. The mites are spider-like insects that burrow tunnels a few millimeters under the kin. Most dogs get the Demodectic mange mite early in life from their mothers. They live in the hair follicles and look a bit like a little spider with a worm-like body.
For more information on pet’s health, dog and cat boarding, dog trainingand behavior please visit www.luckydogs.info

more info at: http://www.dreddyclinic.com/integrated_med/parasites.htm

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