Parasites are organisms that live on the surface or inside other organisms. Parasites that live on the surface are known as external parasites and have complex life cycles, adapted to the climate of their geographical area. This is why they are usually seasonal.
External parasites are divided into two main groups. One group includes arachnid parasites, such as ticks and mites. The other includes insects, commonly represented by fleas.
In the arachnid group, the most well known parasite is the tick, which lives on the blood of other animals. One of its characteristics, mostly in the female of the species, is its capacity of dilating its abdomen to store the blood it ingests.
Among the main damage that external parasites can cause to their hosts is irritation when they feed through the skin. This usually provokes intense itching, scratching and a secondary injury. But the bite is not only an irritation: one of the main problems of external parasites is the possibility of transmitting serious diseases, such as babesiosis, transmitted by ticks, or tapeworms, transmitted by fleas. They can also produce toxic reactions due to the toxins released by the parasite into the hosts’ blood.
You should talk to your veterinary surgeon about the steps needed to control external parasites. Using anti-parasite products indiscriminately does not ensure correct prevention. Besides, remember that you should not apply the same preventive guidelines to a small dog living in an apartment, as to a large dog that usually lives outdoors and in contact with cattle. There are many products that protect against external parasites, although it is best to use a combination of them so as to achieve better control.
In the case of ticks, you should keep in mind that it is not a good idea to simply “pull them off”. This can cause problems to your pet’s skin.
Besides using anti-parasite products correctly, you should also remember that on many occasions you will need to treat your pet’s living area, such as rooms and passageways.
Finally, we want to propose that you use anti-parasite products regularly and not only when parasites are in season: this will ensure better protection for your pet.
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Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
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