View Full Version : Sticktight Fleas and Ear Regrowth

24th February 2008, 04:12 AM
My little Franklin was having some serious itching/dry skin problems. I had taken him to the vet and they prescribed Derma Caps which he took daily and I *thought* were helping. He still had allot of dry skin and was itchy though.

I took him to this wonderful groomer today who discovered that what I had thought was just dry skin was actually sticktight fleas! :eek:

The groomers were great and spent allot of time picking them out. I guess they are a little like ticks where they burrow into the skin and so you can't just kill them and wash them away - they need to be physically removed :(

The largest site of infestation was his ears, of course, and it was so bad that they really needed to shave them. They were very nice and had a long talk with me before they did so but it was necessary for him to be comfortable and get rid of most of the horrible things so shaved they were...

He looks so goofy now!

His ears were very very long and full and gorgeous and balanced out the thick coat of his body and now he just looks lopsided and silly. I bought him some little sweaters which help him not look so offbalanced but I'm worried about how they will grow back!

I read on this forum that even trimming a cavalier's coat can change it permanently and sometimes it will never grow back!

Franklin is only about 7 months old so hopefully his odds of regrowth are pretty good but I'm wondering approximately how long (months/years) before they start getting even a little bit of length?

He has a pretty thick coat and his ears were a little curly before and I wouldnt mind at all some extra curly ears (I read here that sometimes it regrows more curly?) but I really do want to be able to tell myself what to expect in terms of length and time.

Obviously his comfort and getting rid of these awful bugs is the most important thing, but I'm getting that info from my vet/groomer and I wanted some cavalier specific first hadn experience about hair regrowth, particularly on ears.

Cathy Moon
24th February 2008, 04:41 AM
Don't worry too much about hair regrowth problems!

Many CavTalk members, including myself, have cavaliers who had their hind legs shaved all the way up to their back for patella surgery, and the hair grew back beautifully. Other members have cavaliers whose heads, top of ears, and necks were shaved for decompression surgery, and their hair grew back the same as before.

I'm sure Franklin's hair will grow back within a few month's time, and he will be as good as new.

I had never heard of sticktight fleas, so I googled the topic. Do you know if normal flea medications control this type of flea?

24th February 2008, 05:51 AM
They are weird fleas, apparently he contracted them from my roommate's parrot :confused:

I'm giving him a double dosage of frontline (normal dose every 2 weeks instead of every month) and in a month he has a checkup to see if that helps at all.

I was told that there is really no medicine for canines for this particular kind of flea (since its usually just an avian problem) but that frontline might help in addition to keeping up with giving him really thorough skin scrapings to keep them in check.

My roomate hasn't come home yet but I'm going to tell her to take her parrot to the vet which she will hopefully do tomorrow. Hopefully that vet will have some more insight.

Edit: Thanks so much for the reassurance on his ear regrowth! Months is allot better than what I was expecting before he would start filling out a little bit more. I really appreciate that! I feel silly for worrying about such a shallow problem but those gorgeous ears are my favorite physical cavalier trait :)

24th February 2008, 09:19 AM
ugh, we had some rescues once that had lice, they are like little ticks & burrow their heads into the skin & lay their eggs on the hair. small enough to go through a flea comb too
it took a few months to get rid of them ( well the bodies as we nuked them with a ton of flea killer ,lol) as the skin & hair had to renew so they would fall out. the poor dogs got skin infections from them too.

one of the dogs still lives nearby & has the most beautiful long ears, the longest i've seen , it took about a year for her coat to grow in fully.

24th February 2008, 12:17 PM
Thank goodness your groomer found them for you. I hope the Frontline is able to help and your roommate's parrot gets rid of the source of them.

24th February 2008, 01:31 PM
I'd never heard of these: for anyone interested, there's more info here:



Treatment of Echidnophaga gallinacea is difficult because the fleas are attached to the host. Sticktight fleas can be removed with tweezers by grasping and pulling firmly. In order to prevent infection, an antibiotic ointment should be applied to the area. If there are to many fleas to remove individually, a flea product registered for on-animal use should be applied according to label instructions. When applying the product, be careful not to come in contact with the host’s/animal's eyes. 5% malathion dust has also been effectively used for treatment.
Other control measures
Keep other hosts out of chicken pens, which can be a high area of flea infestation. To prevent reinfestation, treat the area to eliminate flea larval development. There are several insecticides registered for treatment of outdoor areas for fleas. Burning of infested organic material, such as animal bedding and poultry litter has also been a recommended form of treatment.

Public health significance
Echidnophaga gallinacea can infest humans. Although sticktight fleas are not known to transmit any diseases, their attachment can lead to problems such as secondary infections.

It sounds like you could probably have gone to the vet for a flea treatment to apply directly that wouldn't have involved shaving the ears but it might have been very difficult to apply given the long ear hair. The link says you need to get an antibiotic ointment to apply to prevent infection if you remove a lot of them so maybe it would be wise to ring your vet and see what they say and to also find out what you need to treat the area -- you probably need to treat your dog's bedding etc as well as the parrot's environment, and treat the parrot.

But the hair will grow back in pretty quickly, especially if you have a tri as black hair tends to come in faster.

24th February 2008, 07:13 PM
Black hair comes in faster? I didn't know that but it's encouraging!

He got flea dipped yesterday and we are starting the frontline tonight and will apply again in two weeks. I'm putting neosporin on his ears since there are some raw patches and apparently the oilyness of it will help keep them from reinfesting.

I was at the groomers while they were shaving him (I came down before they did it to talk to them about what was going on, as I'd never heard of these bugs either!) and after they shaved his ears they de-sticktighted one and left the other infested so I could see the difference. It was horrifying how many thousands of these things were on that ear - it literally looked like a really bad case of dry skin (which is why we thought that) but knowing that they were bugs that were sucking his blood was so horrible.

I'm not sure if we could have gotten them all without shaving his ears as there were just so many. He looks totally ridiculous but has been more energetic so far today so I think he feels good without being sucked dry and no one noticing :(

I'm excited that hair regrowth isn't too much of a problem. I don't care if it takes a year before they'll be long again I'm just crossing my fingers that they start to even out with his facial hair in a few months :)

Thanks for the responses!

Cathy Moon
24th February 2008, 07:41 PM
Oh your poor baby! I feel sorry for the bird, too, and hope he/she gets treatment soon.

As the weeks go by I think you'll be pleased to watch Franklin's ear hair grow longer and longer. Give him an extra hug from me! :hug:

25th February 2008, 01:17 AM
Sorry to hear about Franklin's situation. :(
Perhaps an email to the manufacturers of Frontline (and Frontline +) would let you know if these products can effectively treat and/or prevent problems with sticktights.

26th February 2008, 11:52 AM
I really hope Franklin is feeling better now. I'm sure his fur will grow back in no time at all. Sally was shaved down her chest and front legs when she was a pup and got radiator paint on her fur. Her fur grew back in a couple of months and is now beautiful. I'm not sure if it is sunny where you live but be careful his bare skin doesn't get sunburnt or cold with having no fur. I'd also treat your home and furnishings and definitely the parrot. :xfngr: for a speedy recovery