The parasites you can’t see…

Most pet owners know about the common parasite offenders including fleas, ticks, and roundworms. These are the parasites that most commonly afflict our beloved pets and can be seen with the naked eye. But what about the parasites you CAN’T see? Did you know there’s a whole host of parasites that can affect your pet that you won’t be able to see without a microscope?

In today’s blog, we’re going to cover some important facts about MITES in dogs & cats.

What exactly is a mite?

Mites are a class of parasites not so distantly related to spiders and ticks. They prefer to burrow into the skin and cause irritation. Typically these small parasites can’t be seen without taking a sample from the skin and looking under the microscope. Mites are the cause of what many people refer to as mange, a condition classified by itchy, red skin. 

How would my pet get mites?

Most mites are directly transmitted from pet to pet, and are species specific. This means that mites typically have a preferred host (dog vs. cat vs. rabbit, etc). Mites may also be found and contracted from the environment.

What are signs my pet might have mites?

Pets with mites are often itchy! They can also experience hair loss, dry/scaly skin, redness, and irritation of the skin where mites have made their home. 

Are there different kinds of mites?

There are several different species of mites that can affect our dogs and cats. Each of these behave a bit differently, and can cause different clinical signs. 

  • Demodex: These mites like to bury themselves deep within the layers of the skin, particularly in association with hair follicles. Demodex is actually considered a NORMAL flora (normal organism) of the skin, however in patients that experience stress to the immune system, Demodex can overgrow and cause redness, hair loss, and dry skin. This is a common issue in young pets coming from rescues/shelters. Interestingly, pets with Demodex are often NOT VERY ITCHY! This differs from other mites. 
  • Sarcoptes: Also known as “scabies”, sarcoptes mites like to make their home in the superficial layers of the skin. Animals with scabies are typically VERY itchy! These pets can experience severe hair loss, redness, scaling, and irritation. 
    • *Note: Scabies also has the potential to be ZOONOTIC, meaning people can be infested with sarcoptes as well!*
  • Cheyletiella: This mite is also known as “walking dander”, because unlike our other mite species, owners may be able to see these mites on the skin. Cheyletiella mites can often be found on top of the skin wandering between hairs and resemble flakes of dry dead skin. Pets can be itchy and scratch frequently in response to infestation with this mite. 
  • Otodectes: This may be the mite that most owners have heard of. Otodectes is a common cause of itchy, red, waxy ears in pets. These mites prefer the nice dark hiding spot to set up their home in the skin of the pinna (ear flap) and deep down into the ear canal. Ear mites are common in dogs/cats coming from rescues/shelters and have previously spent lots of time outdoors. 

How are mites treated? Can you prevent them?

Mites can be treated with a variety of options. These include medicated shampoos, medicated ointments, spot on parasite treatments/preventatives, and even oral parasite treatments/preventatives. Treatments are safe and effective, and should be used under direction of your vet. 

VetBox Top Tip: 

Prevention and awareness are always best! Keeping your pet on tailored, appropriate, regular parasite prevention is recommended by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association and the European Scientific Council for Companion Animal Parasites. 

Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS

Why vet care doesn’t need to break the bank…

A Look at Parasite Preventative Costs

We know that vet care costs can add up quickly, which can surprise pet owners who aren’t expecting it. Just like your pets food or vaccines, we like to think of parasite prevention as part of your normal planned “monthly pet budget”. While parasite prevention is essential to happy, healthy pets – it doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank. VetBox is on a mission to provide safe, effective, and cost conscious parasite prevention to as many pets as possible. 

Our baseline subscription includes a monthly pipette of flea/tick spot on treatment, and a dose of oral wormer every three months. 

For most pets, this combination provides good broad spectrum parasite coverage that is safe and effective. It also follows the current standard adult parasite preventative recommendations from the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) and the European Scientific Council for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP). 

For cats and small dogs, our subscription cost is just £6.49 per month. This includes the monthly spot on flea/tick treatment, monthly treats to reward your furry family member for getting their treatment, shipping costs straight to your door, and an oral worming tablet every 3 months. We looked into some other subscription companies/online vet pharmacies and found that the same service cost anywhere from £10.50 up to £14.49 per month. Using VetBox means our customers are saving 40 – 55% every month. 

These cost differences are similar as pet size therefore monthly cost increases, and in some cases showed even larger gaps between VetBox prices and other companies. Our XL dog subscription (dogs weighing 40-60kg) is still just £9.49 per month.

We know that our standard subscription might not work for everyone. Some pets need monthly wormer due to higher exposure level/risk level, some pets need lungworm coverage, and some pets might need a change in how their treatments are given (think about your kitties that hate tablets). Our other options for parasite preventatives have also been shown to be consistently more cost effective as well, or at the very least equivalent to other companies or your vets office. That being said, ours also includes shipment straight to your door each month, making it easier for you and your pet!

There’s lots of options for parasite preventatives out there. It’s easy to get overwhelmed! Trust us, we’re all pet owners too and have gone through the struggles of picking the right preventatives for our own critters. If you’re looking for a way to appropriately protect your pet, be supported by a small dedicated animal loving staff, AND do it in an easy cost effective way – VetBox is your answer. 

Click here to start your VetBox journey today