There are endo- (inner) and ecto- (outer) parasites that we are to consider in small animals - some of these being a health risk for people.
Most common endoparasites in small animals of northern Europe include coccidia, giardia, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms.
Ectoparasites, or parasites that live on the dog, cat or pet rodent are probably the most common and most recognized of all parasites. They include fleas, ticks, mites and lice.
Fleas are probably the most common parasite of dogs and cats. They can be a year-round problem. Favorable weather conditions like warmer than average winters are probably a reason. Fleas typically cause one or more of the following: 1. mild to severe itching, 2. flea saliva hypersensitivity or allergy with resulting skin problems, 3. the transmission of tapeworms, 4. anaemia and possible death (most often in very young or very small animals). Fleas can be detected by derect examination of the animal. The presence of adult fleas ore small black specks of dried flea feces on the pet is confirmatory. The presence of flea allergy can be detected by a blood test.
Over the last several years the tick season seems to have lengthened. This is presumably due to milder winters. Ticks can cause signs that range from mild local irritation to severe anaemia. In addition ticks can transmit many diseases to animals and humans. These diseases include Lyme Disease (Borreliosis), a viral meningoencephalitis in People (called 'FSME' in Germany) and Ehrlichiosis. Ticks can be detected by direct examination of an animal.
Mites and lice are less commonly seen in dogs and cats. The four main types of mites include otodectes (earmites), sarcoptes, demodex and cheyletiella.
There are very efficient prophylactic and therapeutic agents against ecto- and endoparasites.