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External parasites are those that affect the outside of the body. Fleas, ticks, lice and mites are among the most common. Outdoor animals are particularly susceptible to these pests, especially if they spend a lot of time in contact with other dogs or cats.

These parasites attach themselves to the animals's hair or skin, then feed on the animal and begin to reproduce. Since the reproduction process begins quickly, it is essential pets are groomed frequently.Signs of external parasites include consistent scratching or a pet rubbing its body against corners or hard surfaces.

If your pet is contaminated, it will have to be treated with the proper medicine since parasites can neither be eliminated or prevented by regular bathing. Always clean the area the animals lives in because it can be infested, too.

Only a small percentage of the fleas, lice and mites in an animal's environment are on its body at any one time. Usually they will jump on an animal, feed and then jump off.

Fleas are not yet a problem for Salt Lake residents; however, we will likely see more this summer because of the mild winter.

A flea is about the same size as a sugar ant and can be seen with the naked eye. You can also tell if fleas are present if you see salt and pepperlike black and white grains about the size of sand in the coat of the animal. These are flea eggs and flea feces.

Fecal material is made up of digested blood and will turn reddish brown when brushed onto a wet paper. Look for fleas around your dog's back, tail and hindquarters.

Wooded areas and sagebrush are the likely areas where your animal can pickup a tick. If you find a tick, use tweezers and use gloves to protect your skin. Grasp the tick as close as possible to the skin and pull it upward with steady pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick or its mouth parts may break off under the skin.

Once the tick has been removed, do not squeeze or crush it, and do not handle it with your bare hands or you may catch Lyme disease or other tick-born ailments.

Children should not be allowed to de-tick animals. After disinfecting the bite site, throughly wash hands and tweezers with soap and water. Contact your veterinarian for further followup.

For mites, immediately report any itching, patchy hair loss and skin lesions to your vet. Also contact your vet if you notice dull earwax, dried blood and any material resembling dried coffee grounds or smell a foul odor in the dog's ears.

According to a booklet from Purina, products designed to control pests vary widely in effectiveness. Dips are considered the most effective pest controller.

The effectiveness of flea collars is questionable, especially for larger dogs. Ask your vet to recommend the best product.