Fleas are most often seen during the warmer months but often as we keep our homes nice and warm throughout winter, we see fleas all year round. Only a small part of the adult flea population actually lives on your pet. The fleas’ eggs and larvae live in the environment and can survive for up to a year, so it is important to not only treat your animal directly for fleas, but also decontaminate their environment. Wash your pet’s bedding using the hottest cycle, and regularly vacuum all carpets. We do not recommend flea collars or flea shampoos alone, as they fail to address the environmental flea infestation.
Fleas will often jump onto your pet only to feed, and then jump off again — you may not always actively see them. Dogs and cats can also have a reaction to flea saliva, which may cause a skin condition called Flea Allergy Dermatitis or FAD. Treatment of FAD can be complicated and veterinary consultation is recommended.
Signs that your pet may have fleas include:
- Scratching, biting and hair loss; especially at the base of the tail and rump
- You may see fleas (especially over the rump and in the groin region)
- It can be difficult to find fleas, but it is relatively easy to check for flea dirt. Simply moisten a cotton ball, part your pet’s fur, and place the cotton ball on the skin over the rump. If there are black specks surrounded by a reddish residue on the cotton ball, this may be flea dirt.
Warning: Some non-veterinary brands of flea/tick treatments for dogs can be lethal when applied to cats.
Always seek veterinary advice about the best flea treatments for your pet.
Paralysis Tick (Ixodes holocyclus) is a significantly dangerous parasite as it can cause paralysis and death within 2-4 days of attachment. Whilst Paralysis Ticks only occur in certain geographic areas (mainly along the coastal eastern seaboard of Australia) they can attach to pets who visit these areas during the warmer months, particularly if they are allowed to run through scrub. Ticks can also travel with you or a neighbour in cars, rugs, towels or plants.
If you notice a tick on your pet, and your pet is not displaying signs of tick paralysis, remove the tick immediately. To do this, grasp the tick firmly where it attaches to your pet’s skin and give a quick sideways pull. It is better not to try and kill the tick first, as a dying tick may inject more toxin into your pet. If you are not confident removing the tick, please call us immediately to make an appointment to have it removed. Once the tick is removed, your pet should be kept cool and quiet, and closely monitored for 24 hours. If your pet begins to display any signs of tick paralysis (e.g. vomiting, weakness, staggering, breathing difficulty, or altered bark) seek immediate veterinary attention immediately as this is a veterinary emergency. If your pet is showing any of the above signs, do not offer food or water, as these can be inhaled accidentally by tick-affected dogs.
Treatment of tick paralysis includes searching for, and removing, all ticks. This may include clipping the animal completely and/or the use of medication to kill any remaining ticks. Tick antiserum can be administered to counteract the toxin, and supportive care is provided during recovery. This can be costly in comparison to using a tick preventative treatment regularly in your pet's healthcare regime. Unfortunately, however, no tick prevention is 100% effective, and should always be used in combination with daily combing of your pet. Searching for ticks on your pet should not stop once you return from tick-affected regions; continue for at least 7 days after returning home, and ideally every week ongoing. Use your fingers to feel over the entire body, especially under the collar, on the face, and around the front of your pet. Always check carefully between the toes, under the lips, and in the ears.
We are more than happy to show you how to do a thorough tick search; please call us to discuss.