Information About Common Parasites




Ctenocephalides felis (the cat flea) is now the predominant flea species associated with cats and dogs in the United States.


Cat fleas spend virtually their entire life on the dog or cat. They will initiate feeding and breeding within 8 hours of finding a dog or cat. They will only leave the dog or cat to jump on another dog or cat. Treatment point: treatment must be directed at the dog or cat.


Within 24-36 hours the flea will begin laying eggs. Peak egg production occurs within 4 to 8 days of feeding and an adult cat flea can produce up to 40 to 50 eggs per day at it’s peak. Reproduction can continue for up to 100 days. Treatment point: We must have flea treatment that is effective immediately and maintains it’s effectiveness for as long as possible.


After the eggs hatch, the tiny larval forms of the flea live in our homes. Their instinct is to crawl toward gravity. Thus they go into the cracks in hardwood floors and deep into carpeting. Treatment point: In these places they are almost entirely protected from exposure to insecticides and growth regulators we apply to our environment.


In this stage the larvae spins a cocoon around itself and becomes a pupa. Ninety-plus percent of the pupa emerge within a couple of weeks. A small portion delay emergence until up to 50 weeks. Treatment point: It is very difficult to kill pupa in the environment and delayed emergence produces re-infestation at almost anytime.


When the pre-adult emerges it goes away from gravity and orients toward light. When the light changes or something walks by, the flea jumps. Treatment point: The pre-adult does not stay on the floor or carpeting long enough to be killed by insecticides sprayed on these surfaces.


Why has the flea continued to survive in cold northern climates where it is not supposed to? First fleas are living on wild dogs, cats, opossums and raccoons during the winter. Secondly, immature forms of the flea can live in tiny protected areas out-of -doors during the winter. Treatment point: Preventative measures should continue all year round.


Controlling tick infestations is important not only because ticks are nuisance parasites of dogs, but also because they carry a variety of bacterial and protozoal diseases, some of which are transmissible to humans! Tick control is a major component of disease prevention and should begin with an understanding of the life cycle of ticks in our area.

Most ticks infesting dogs are 3-host ticks, with each successive stage feeding on different hosts, depending on the species.

Most ticks infesting dogs are 3-host ticks, with each successive stage feeding on different hosts, depending on the species.

Habitat and Host Seeking – Ambushing

Many hard ticks seek hosts by an interesting behavior called “Ambushing or Questing”, whereby they climb blades of grass and in a typical posture with the forelegs outstretched wait for a passing host.

Certain biochemicals such as carbon dioxide as well as heat and movement serve as stimuli for questing behavior. Subsequently, these ticks climb on to a potential host which brushes against their extended front legs.

Most ticks live in brushy, wooded, or weedy areas containing potential hosts and do not jump or fly, but wait on vegetation for a host to brush against them. They are sensitive to desiccation and are therefore usually found in areas providing protection from high temperatures, low humidity, and constant breezes.


Major Ticks in our Practice area:

    american dog tick

  1. American Dog Tick & Rocky Mountain Wood Tick – Larva usually feed on small mammals such as various rats and mice. Nymphs can be found feeding on dogs, rabbits, raccoons, opossums, and other medium to small sized mammals. The adult tick will feed dogs, horses, cattle, and other large mammals, including man.
  2. Lone Star Tick – lonestar tick Prefers woodland habitats with dense underbrush and reforestation in urban and rural habitats. The white-tailed deer is considered a main host, because all three-life stages will feed successfully upon the white-tailed deer and ticks generally fall off into wooded habitats after engorgement….in addition wild turkeys rodents, rabbits, dogs, cats, fox, coyotes, and a variety of birds serving as hosts for larvae and nymphs. Adult ticks feed on numerous hosts including deer, cattle, horses, sheep, dogs, cats, and humans. This tick can carry and give it’s host Ehrlichia chaffensis (Human Monocytic Ehrlichiosis), E. ewingii & Borrelia lonestari Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness. It has also been implicated in the transmission of Tularemia.
  3. Brown Dog Tick – brown dog tick Is a 3-host tick where every stage (larva, nymph and adult) prefers to feed on dogs. Infestations of homes or kennels are distressing to pet owners and are extremely difficult to eradicate. It is intolerant of cold and persists in temperate regions within kennels and homes. This tick species often crawl up walls in homes and kennels and can be found in false ceilings. The Brown Dog Tick can vector (carry) Ehrlichia canis (Canine Monocytic Ehrlichiosis) and Babesia canis (Canine Babesiosis).
  4. Deer Tick or Blacklegged Tick (AKA: Lyme Disease Tick) – deer tick While adult females feed primarily on white tail deer, they will also occasionally parasitize dogs, raccoons, and other wildlife. Larvae feed on a variety of occasionally small mammals, including mice, squirrels, voles, shrews, and raccoons. Nymphs feed on mice, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, opossums, shrews, cats, and man. The Blacklegged tick is the primary carrier and transmitter of Lyme disease in the central and eastern United States, and is the vector of Anaplasma phagocytophilum (formerly Ehrlichia phagocytophila).

Major Internal Parasites in our Practice Area


What is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm infection is acquired by a dog through the bite of an infected mosquito. It penetrates the tissue of an infected dog then migrates to the dog’s bloodstream from which it enters his heart and lungs. Surveys of veterinary clinics conducted by the American Heartworm Society, cited by the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), indicate that heartworm infections are increasing in number and are occurring in areas of the country where they were not previously reported.

Heartworm disease harms your dog!

Heartworm disease is transmitted from dog to dog through mosquitoes. It affects thousands of dogs throughout the United States and can be fatal if left untreated. Though some animals do not present any clinical signs, common symptoms of an infected animal can include:

  • coughing
  • sluggishness
  • difficulty breathing

Over time, however, damage to your dog’s heart and lungs can be severe. It can include:

  • Damage to the lining of the artery leading from the heart to the lungs (pulmonary artery)
  • Clogging of the pulmonary artery
  • Heart valve malfunction
  • Heart enlargement and failure

Moreover, heartworm can live in an infected dog for 5 to 7 years! During all that time, the worms are living, breeding, and dying. And your dog’s body has to fight the effects of the damage they do.

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