External Parasites in Dogs

Fleas are the most common parasites in dogs but there are also other external parasites such as ticks, mites or lice that may affect the dog. Some parasites may be carriers of diseases, while others may feed on the dog’s blood, causing irritation and itchiness.


Fleas are very problematic to get rid of and may cause a lot of discomfort in your dog. The fleas have a complicated life cycle and this is what makes them difficult to remove. The fleas will cause skin itchiness, rashes and some dogs may be allergic to the flea bites. Often, dogs may develop secondary skin infections.

In some cases, fleas can make the dog anemic, especially if there are a lot of fleas on the dog and the dog is younger or weaker.

Fleas can be eliminated with insecticides, shampoos and topical ointments. The environment must be carefully cleaned, so that the flea eggs and larvae are eliminated as well.


Ticks may be present in certain geographical areas and may be carriers of the Lyme disease, tapeworms, babesiosis or ehrlichiosis. These diseases may cause serious complications.

The ticks may also cause skin irritations in more sensitive canines.

Ticks can be identified on the dog’s skin and should be removed with a pair of tweezers; typically, the tick won’t transmit diseases if it is removed within 4 hours after it has bitten the dog.

If the tick has caused an infection, the vet will recommend specific treatment.

If you live in an area where ticks are frequent, you may prevent the tick bites by spraying your pet and use anti tick products.


Mites may be of 2 types: demodex and sarcops.

The demodex are normally present on the skin of dogs, but may cause the demodectic mange in puppies or dogs with a deficient immune system. The demodectic mange causes patches of hair loss and crusty skin. This type of mange may heal without treatment, but topical ointments may be recommended.

Sarcops is a type of mange that will cause severe itching, hair loss (especially in the ear area and limbs) and are also contagious. The sarcops mange may infect humans as well, causing rashes and itchiness.

The sarcops mange may be treated with topical ointments that may contain steroids, which are helpful in healing the skin. Antibiotics should be administered if there are secondary infections.


Lice are not common in canines, but may be present in pets. The lice may cause skin irritation, secondary skin infections and hair loss.

The lice can be visible and they also lay eggs that are small and white. Lice can be eliminated with insecticides.


Even if they are not parasites, flies are carriers of different diseases, especially the fleas that may bite your pet. You should control the flies.

It is important to control the external parasites with different insecticides and products. However, you should always check with your vet, as your pet may be allergic to certain products.