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Parasites

  • Common conditions of pet rabbits include upper respiratory tract infections, internal and external parasites, dental disease, GI stasis, uterine problems, and pododermatitis. Upper respiratory infections are often caused by bacteria including Pasteurella multocida. Rabbits can become infected with various intestinal parasites, as well as external parasites such as ear and fur mites, fleas, and occasionally ticks. Rabbits’ teeth are continuously growing but chewing food, as well as chewing on wooden blocks, branches, and toys, helps them wear their teeth down at a rate equal to their growth. Occasionally, tooth or jaw trauma or disease causes misalignment of the upper and lower jaws and overgrowth of teeth results. Regular yearly check-ups enables early diagnosis and treatment of some rabbit diseases. Whenever a rabbit stops eating, for whatever reason, it is important to take her to see your veterinarian immediately for an evaluation.

  • The ear mite is a surface mite that lives on cats, dogs, rabbits, and ferrets. It is usually found in the ear canal but it can also live on the skin surface. Mites are barely visible to the naked eye. Clinical signs of infestation vary in severity and may include ear irritation, leading to scratching at the ears or head shaking, dark waxy or crusty discharge from the ear, areas of hair loss resulting from self-trauma, a crusted rash around or in the ear, and an aural hematoma. Your veterinarian will advise you about which insecticidal products are suitable. Your veterinarian may want to re-examine your pet to ensure that the mites have been eliminated after the initial treatment has been performed.

  • Echinococcus multilocularis is a tapeworm species that is found in the Northern Hemisphere. Dogs, cats, and humans are all susceptible to infection by E. multilocularis, along with additional species. While the parasite typically produces no clinical sign in cats, it can have life-threatening effects in humans. E. multilocularis is impossible to distinguish from other tapeworm species without specialized testing, but it responds to the same dewormers that are used to treat other tapeworm species. Therefore, pets suspected of having tapeworms should be treated promptly and care should be taken to avoid direct contact with animal feces.

  • Encephalitozoonsis is a parasitic infection that can affect the kidneys, eyes, and nervous systems of rabbits. Many infected rabbits do not develop clinical signs until they are older or if they become stressed or immunocompromised. Common signs that may develop include heavy white plaques/growths inside one or both eyes, head tilt, eye twitching, and tremors or seizures. Treatments are available, though not all rabbits respond.

  • Esafoxolaner + eprinomectin + praziquantel is given topically on the skin to treat and protect against various internal and external parasites and prevent heartworm in cats. Side effects are rare but may include hair loss at the application site, gastrointestinal upset, skin reactions, or neurologic signs. Use caution in sick or underweight cats. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Demodicosis is a parasitic skin condition caused by Demodex mites. These microscopic mites can be found on the skin of all animals but, in some cases, they multiply to excessive levels and cause clinical signs. Signs vary depending on the species of mite involved, though generally involve hair loss, skin inflammation, and crusting. Demodex mites found on cats and dogs do not spread to humans.

  • Ferrets are commonly affected by ear mite infestations. Many ferrets show no symptoms of infestation but you may notice your ferret shaking her head or scratching herself. Treatment for ear mites must be done under the guidance of a veterinarian familiar with ferrets.

  • Despite common belief, an average cat experiences only minor skin irritation in response to flea bites. Even in the presence of dozens of fleas, there will typically be minimal itching. On the other hand, a cat with flea allergies will have a severe reaction to even a single flea bite. Affected cats experience intense itching and will chew, lick, or scratch the affected site(s) nonstop, causing hair loss and possibly open sores or scabs on the skin, allowing a secondary bacterial infection to develop. Strict flea control is the foundation of successful treatment. There are many highly effective flea control products for treating the cat and controlling fleas in the environment.

  • Flea allergy dermatitis is a common cause of allergic reactions in dogs. The antigens in the flea saliva cause an intensely itchy response in sensitive dogs. Itching and hair loss in the region from the middle of the back to the tail base and down the rear legs (the flea triangle) is often associated with this allergy. Strict flea control is essential for treatment and prevention.

  • Fleas are the most common nuisance and parasite affecting cats, and an infestation can lead to serious health problems. Flea control requires a three-pronged approach; they need to be eliminated from 1) your cat, 2) any other cats and dogs that you have, 3) your home and yard. There are many flea control products available and your veterinarian can help you determine which are safest and most effective for your pets.