When we are acquiring a new rescue dog, parasitic control can be a major concern. Immediate attention and medication for ecto and endo parasites are essential to avert an infestation.

One of the most common ecto parasites (meaning external) are often fleas usually visible to the naked eye by either seeing small brown dots scurrying through the lighter parts of the coat such as lower ventral abdomen or finding suspicious tiny black debris deposits in the coat. The latter if collected on a wet paper towel will start streaking red and confirm it is dried blood residue from flea feces.  Ticks are also a concern especially since they can transmit Lyme disease.

Other less visible ectoparasites are mites of which there are 3 main types to be concerned with:
Sarcoptes Scabei: (Scabies) is a contagious mite often causing intense itchiness. It often starts around the ears and the trunk. Initially there is mild hair loss progressing to scaly dry crusty lesions in more advanced stages. Multiple skin scrapings are sometimes necessary to find it. Ivermectin injections once a week for 2-4 weeks would be my choice of treatment to kill the mites, shampoo and antibiotics as necessary to repair the damaged skin.

Cheyletiella (dander mite) also contagious is another common skin mite found on frenchies. These days regular use of topical Selamectin for heartworm prevention has lessened that concern significantly. The main symptom is excess dandruff over the back and more specifically above the tail area.
A skin scraping of this area should reveal the mites, sometimes collecting the dander with a scotch tape and applying to a slide works too. Regular topical Selamectin (twice a month then monthly) is my preferred approach to eliminate these nuisance parasites.

Demodex Canis: (Follicle mite) is a different problem than the other two mites and is not contagious. It can occasionally be found occurring naturally in the skin but in large amounts can cause serious hair loss and some skin inflammation. It often starts on the limbs chest or face and you will notice a small bear patch of skin. The number of lesions one or several is an indication whether treatment is warranted. One can be self limiting more is not likely. Demodex tends to show it’s presence in immune suppressed animals, namely growing and teething youngsters around 4-8 months and occasionally in an older dog. It lives in the skin follicles and can be clearly seen in a deep skin scraping showing typical cigar shaped live mites. The quantity and the presence of immature mites can be an indication of how severe the problem actually is. My choice of treatment for demodicosis is 400-600 mcg/kg of injectable Ivermectin orally once a day for 4-6 weeks. Recheck scrapings need to be done weekly after 3 weeks of treatment. Usually I treat for one more week after a negative scraping. Daily Ivermectin can potentially have serious side effects .My experience with  frenchies in particular has been excellent with no problem but a cautious approach with close observation for any change of behaviour or appetite is a must.

As far as intestinal parasite control, there is a variety of good products available and multiple fecal analyses are important. Milbemicine oxime is a safe and common general intestinal de-wormer used in our clinic for puppies.

The good news is that we now have many more effective drugs to control parasites and once diagnosed most problems resolve promptly.


Dr. Dorit Fischler DVM




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