Fleas are most often seen during the warmer months but as we keep our homes nice and warm throughout winter, we see fleas all year round. Only a small amount of an adult flea population actually lives on your pet. Flea eggs and larvae can 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 the environment as well. Wash your pet’s bedding using the hottest cycle and regularly vacuum/clean carpets. We do not recommend flea collars or flea shampoos alone as they fail to address the environmental flea infestation or prevent the continuing lifecyle of the flea.
Fleas will tend to jump onto your pet only to feed and then jump off again. Dogs and cats can have a reaction to flea saliva resulting in a skin condition called Flea Allergy Dermatitis. Treatment of Flea Allergy Dermatitis can be complicated and veterinary consultation is recommended.
Some 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 in the coat
- It can be difficult to find the fleas, but 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 base of the tail. If the cotton ball takes on black specs which turn a dark red when moistened, this may be flea dirt and can indicate that your pet has fleas.
Warning: Some non-veterinary brands of flea treatments for dogs are potentially lethal when applied to cats. Always seek veterinary advice about the best flea treatments for your pet.
Please call us to discuss an appropriate flea control program for your pet.
The main tick of concern for pet owners is the Paralysis Tick (Ixodes holocyclus) as it can cause paralysis and death within 2-4 days of attachment. Whilst Paralysis Ticks occur naturally 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 may also hitch a ride back with you or a neighbour in cars, rugs, towels or plants.
Thankfully, paralysis ticks do not occur naturally in North West Queensland. Our main nuisance tick is the Brown Dog Tick. This tick can cause skin irritation, anaemia and may infect our pets with an organism (babesia) causing tick fever.
However, we typically see one or two cases of tick paralysis each year in animals who have recently visited the east coast. it is important to ensure that your pet has been treated with an appropriate tick prevention before travelling to a coastal area.
If you notice a paralysis tick on a pet that is not yet displaying signs of tick paralysis, remove the tick straight away. 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 the dying tick may inject more of its potent toxin into your pet. If you are not confident removing the tick please call us immediately to make an appointment to have it removed. If your pet starts to display any signs of tick paralysis, such as vomiting, weakness, staggering, breathing difficulty, or altered bark, seek immediate veterinary attention as this is a genuine veterinary emergency. If your pet is showing any of the above signs, do not offer food or water as these may be accidentally inhaled in 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 remaining ticks. Tick antiserum is administered to counteract the toxin and supportive care is provided during recovery. This can be costly in comparison to what it would cost to use tick prevention initially.
However, no tick prevention is 100% effective and should always be used in combination with daily searches of your pet. Searching your pet shouldn’t cease once you return from tick-affected regions but should continue for at least 7 days after returning home. Use your fingers to feel over the entire body, especially under the collar, on the face and around the front of your pet. Don’t forget to 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.
Below is an interesting tick identification chart, although this is a good reference any possible concerns with potential paralysis tick infestations should be addressed and properly identified by your veterinarian.