Leon Springs Animal Hospital

"In the heart of Leon Springs"



24125 Boerne Stage Road

San Antonio, TX 78255


210.698.1800

fax 210.698.1767

Parasites

Ear Mites

This mite has a preference for the ears of mammals, though they sometimes inhabit the face or tail of the host animal. Ear mites cause itching and redness, and are visual to the human (if you know what you're looking for!) Ear mites are diagnosed using a magnifying glass or on a ear swab under a microscope. Treatment includes thoroughly cleaning the ears in conjunction with the use of a topical medication. Ideally, Revolution should be applied on a monthly basis to prevent reinfection.
Ticks
Your pet can be exposed to ticks in any environment. This parasitic insect is most often found in high grass and shrubbery, and are active in any temperature above 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Ticks are efficient disease carriers because they attach firmly when sucking blood and feed slowly - it is often days before a tick is finished feeding. Some of the diseases ticks commonly carry include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichia, and Lyme disease. Though ticks can attach to cats, they are more likely to feed on dogs, as cats are better groomers. Female ticks are easier to find than males - they gorge themselves on blood and can triple in size. Ticks often leave sores after detaching that can take up to a month to heal.

Immediate removal of ticks is ideal. To remove ticks, wear gloves and use tweezers to grasp and pull the tick from your pet. Wash hands afterward to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. For the prevention of ticks, there are a variety of treatments available. Of these, we typically recommend Revolution, Frontline, and/or Preventic collars. It should also be noted that treating your yard and home in conjunction with treating your pets is considered the most efficient way to eliminate tick populations.

Fleas

Fleas are one of the most common nusiances to cats and dogs. Your pet can be exposed and infected in any environment; symptoms usually include itching and hair loss, but more severe side effects, such as anemia and the transmission of blood parasites, are possible.

These pests can be diagnosed visually. If you suspect your cat or dog has fleas, part the hair so the skin is visible or use a flea comb. Fleas tend to hang out around the collar line, base of tail, and armpits, so check there first. Fleas leave behind "flea dirt," which looks like black flecks and is actually excess blood expelled as feces. Flea dirt is solid evidence of a flea infestation - if you do see actual fleas, they only represent about 5% of the population living on your pet.

Fleas are easily prevented with products such as Revolution and Trifexis (available at our hospital). Over the counter products are at times missused and may have more drug side effects and are possibly more ineffective; the exceptions to this rule include the newer products like Frontline Plus and Advantage, two prescriptions products recently made available over the counter at Target, Petco, and PetsMart.

Whipworms

Whipworms are another intestinal parasite that can cause your pet to have runny or bloody diahrrea, hair loss, vomiting, or a variety of other symptoms. These worms are passed from animal to animal through contact with infected feces and cannot be transmitted to humans. Diagnosing these worms usually involves a microscopic fecal examination; a series of oral treatments are used to eliminate a whipworm infection.

Sarcoptic Mange

Also known as "scabies," this condition is caused by mites that burrow under skin. Sarcoptic mange is contagious to cats, dogs, and humans; symptoms most often include intense itching and loss of hair. Scabies is typically diagnosed by examining a skin sample under a microscope; if sarcoptic mange is confirmed, the condition is usually resolved easily with oral or injectable medication. Ideally, Revolution should be applied on a monthly basis to prevent reinfection.
Giardia is a one-celled organism classified as a protozoa and cannot be seen by the human eye. This parasite is most often found in stagnant water and puddles after heavy rain, as well as fecal material from infected animals. Symptoms usually include mucus or blood in the stool and diarrhea; vomiting can occur on occasion. These symptoms can come and go with the life cycle of the parasites; just because there is a decline in symptoms does not mean the giardia has left the host's body. Giardia can be diagnosed with an examination of your pet's stool sample; a medication regimen will then be decided on by our veterinarian.  This is a ZOONOTIC parasite and should be taken seriously.  People can pick it up from contaminated water they swim in or drink or from fecal oral contamination so washing hands after handling pets or feces is important. Humans typically get GI symptoms and should contact their MD for diagnosis or treatment if they have symptoms are worried about possible giardia.

Demodex

This form of mange is caused by a mite that targets young or immunodeficient dogs and cats. Symptoms range from slighty thinned patches of hair to severely damaged skin and pustules over the animal's entire body. Many dogs and cats are carriers but exhibit no symptoms until their immune system is compromised. Treatment typically involves oral medication after demodectic mange has been diagnosed with a microscopic examination of a skin sample.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms shed 1/4" - 1" segments that are visible in the stool and typically look like grains of rice, making them one of the few parasites that can be diagnosed without the use of a microscope. Animals can contract tapeworms when they ingest a flea infected with the parasite. Even pets on flea prevention can become infected if they eat a flea. Our hospital offers treatment of tapeworms without a fecal examination, as this is an easily recognized parasite. Symptoms include diarrhea, scooting, and weight loss, though many pets exhibit no side effects of infection.

Roundworm vs Tapeworms

Visual Comparison

Roundworms
Roundworms can be spread through infected feces, as well as through milk in nursing animals and the placenta in pregnant cats and dogs. The primary symptom of roundworms is diarrhea, though in extreme cases puppies and kittens can develop vomiting, poor hair coat, and pot bellies from the volume of worms in their abdomen. As with most fecal parasites, roundworms are diagnosed through fecal testing and treated with oral medication.
Regular hygiene practices typically prevent infections in humans but this is a ZOONOTIC parasite and should be taken seriously.  Humans may get a visceral larval migrans where the worm migrates through body tissues and can end up anywhere.  It is important not just to your pet's health but to the health of the community to routinely screen for this parasite once or twice during puppy or kitten visits and at least annually after that in addition to whenever your pet is sick with any GI symptoms.  Also, scooping the poop daily rather than leaving it in the yard or spraying it into the ground helps decrease the overall chances of exposure or reinfection.

Hookworms

Hookworms are an intestinal parasite that can infect your pet through ingestion of larvae or penetration of the skin. Larvae will migrate to an animal's intestine to complete their life cycle. The most common symptom of a hookworm infection is diarrhea.  Vomiting, anemia, and even death can occur in more severe cases left untreated.  Regular hygiene practices typically prevent infections in humans but this is a ZOONOTIC parasite and should be taken seriously.  Humans typically get a rash as evidence of their infection.  Often when people get infected with hookworms there is history of gardening or playing in sand boxes that have been infected with hookworm eggs from infected animals.  It is important not just to your pet's health but to the health of the community to routinely screen for this parasite once or twice during puppy or kitten visits and at least annually after that in addition to whenever your pet is sick with any GI symptoms.  Also, scooping the poop daily rather than leaving it in the yard or spraying it into the ground helps decrease the overall chances of exposure or reinfection.

A microscopic examination of an animal's stool sample is the primary diagnostic tool used by our clinic. If your pet is positive for hookworms, our veterinarian will prescribe an appropriate medication.
Ringworm is a skin fungus that is easily spread between pets and humans by direct contact with infected hair or dandruff on an animal or person, or indirect contact with affected bedding, carpet, clothing, etc. Symptoms typically include hair loss, itching, redness, and scaly lesions. The incubation period between exposure and the occurrence of symptoms is about 1-2 weeks. If ringworm is suspected in your pet, we will culture a skin sample from your pet to confirm the presence of the fungus. A topical or oral prescription, in conjunction with medicated bathing and a thorough cleaning of the the pet's environment, is the standard treatment for ringworm.
Coccidia, much like giardia, is a protozoa that can cause your pet to experience intestinal discomfort. Coccidia is not contagious to humans, but is contagious to other pets. The parasite is picked up from contaminated soil or feces and is not visible to the naked eye. Symptoms can include mucus or blood in the stool and diarrhea; in some cases vomiting can occur. If coccidia is confirmed through an examination of your pet's fecal sample, the most common route for treatment is an oral medication prescribed by our veterinarian.
For an in-depth explanation of heartworm disease and treatment, please visit our heartworm information page.