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Your family pet has the dubious honor of being an environmental “host” to various ectoparasites, all of which have the potential of causing skin problems, conditions and diseases for your doggy family member. While these skin problems, conditions and diseases are not only uncomfortable and inconvenient for both you and your dog, they can also lead to other systemic health issues for your pet, some of which can be serious.
Ectoparasitic skin disease in dogs is a skin disease which occurs as a result of an infestation of external parasites (ectoparasites) which live and get their sustenance from the consumption of blood or epithelial skin cells of the canine host.
Since there are a variety of ectoparasites from which your canine family member can suffer and, the symptoms will vary depending upon the ectoparasite currently living on your dog, here are some of the symptoms you may see:
The types of ectoparasitic skin disease in dogs is dependent upon the ectoparasite which has taken up residence on your canine family member. Here are some of the more common ones:
Ticks - Various species found in a variety of places worldwide, some can cause serious health complications
Mites - Ear mites, demodex (causes demodectic mange) and sarcoptes (causes scabies)
There are a number of ectoparasites which can infest your canine family member and cause a variety of skin diseases when they do. While the method of infestation and infection may differ between the ectoparasites which can inhabit your pet, here are some of the mechanisms which are believed to be at the root of the skin disease:
The similarity of the mechanisms and methods used cause very similar skin irritations and inflammatory reactions to the host, making the diagnosis of the offending ectoparasite difficult to tie down. This is where your input can be vital to your vet. This is some of the information he will need:
Breed of dog being treated - Some breeds are predisposed to certain skin conditions; if your canine family member is a mixed breed, this may still be a factor
Other animals in the household - do they have skin conditions, too
Living conditions - This can include where your pet sleeps, his bedding, bathing and grooming regimen, where he exercises or plays
Some testing modalities may be utilized by your veterinary professional after his physical examination to diagnose:
Trichogram - Epilation of hairs from areas difficult to scrape with safety
The samples collected from these various testing modalities will be examined microscopically in an attempt to identify the uninvited inhabitant of the skin and hair of your pet. An appropriate treatment plan will be developed and initiated when the results of these tests have been analysed.
There are a number of ectoparasiticides which are commonly in use for the treatment of ectoparasitic skin disease in dogs. These are, of course, dependent upon the particular ectoparasite which is determined to be the offender of your pet. Here are some of the products which have been developed for use in this area. Your veterinary professional will know what products to utilize and the appropriate way to administer it:
Macrocyclic lactones - Selamectin, eprinomectin and moxidectin
Chlorinated hydrocarbons - Less popular due to environmental issues
Your veterinary professional will determine the product he feels will work the most effectively and safely for your pet. The methods of administration of the above types of ectoparasiticides are aimed at customer convenience:
The newer spot-on method of administration has shown itself to be much more reliable and successful than some of the other methods of treatment.
Recovery of ectoparasitic skin disease in your canine family is generally good if it is diagnosed and treated in an appropriate and timely manner. Since these ectoparasites live in many of the areas in which your pet does, it will be important to take steps to avoid future episodes of reinfestation and reinfection. This will require some changes in your pet’s living routine as well as those routines in which you and your human (and other animal) family members are currently involved.
If the skin disease which has been identified in your pet is a zoonotic one (such as scabies or ringworm), be prepared to treat yourself and other family members if needed. All in all, appropriate and timely treatment with continued monitoring and management should go a long way toward keeping your family pet healthy and happy.
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