Animal Allergy & Dermatology Center of Central TX

2207 Lake Austin Boulevard
Austin, TX 78703




There are many different species of ectoparasites that can live in the hair follicles of your canine or feline companion. These conditions can have very similar symptoms, yet require unique methods of treatment. Dr. Nichols will identify the particular species and develop a specific, effective treatment customized to your pet. Examples of common ectoparasites are as follows:


Sarcoptic Mange (Scabes) is caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei var. canis. Mites live in the superficial layers of the skin where they burrow, breed, and lay eggs. Scabes mites do not live for prolonged periods without the host, so they are generally passed by direct contact with other dogs and are highly contagious. The hallmark of the disease is intense pruritus (itching). Classic scabies will manifest as red papules (bumps) to the chest, abdomen,and as time progresses, as a thick scale on the ears, elbows, and hocks.  Fever, lymph node enlargement, and weight loss with secondary bacterial infection may occur. Although extremely small, these mites cause severe itching and skin irritation that will greatly decrease quality of life. To definitively diagnose this disease, the mites must be seen microscopically.

Demodectic Mange (Demodex) is a mite that is present in small numbers in most healthy dogs. However, in some dogs, the mites live, reproduce, and overpopulate. It is believed that some dogs have a defect in their immune system that allows the mites to reproduce. Generalized demodicosis begins with multiple areas of hair loss, scaling, and redness. These small areas get larger and progress to the entire body, causing severe irritation. Severe bacterial infections commonly occur as a result. After a few months, the skin may become covered with infected, pus-filled, crusty, bloody sores. Diagnosis is made by microscope examination of scrapings of the skin and hair follicles and/or impression smear of the crusts.

Ctenocephadiled felis, one of over 2,000 species of fleas in the world, is the specific one found on our pets. Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common disease of dogs and cats. Additionally, fleas suck blood which can lead to anemia, carry a tapeworm called Dipylidium caninum, and transmit a bacteria called Bartonella that can lead to health issues in dogs, cats, and people. Common myths are that your pet cannot have fleas because he/she lives entirely indoors, your pet cannot have fleas because you don't have carpets, and your pet does not have fleas because you have not seen any.