Fleas and Ticks in your pets – advice from Vetaround mobile vet

Fleas are possibly your dog and cat’s biggest pest!

There is a large variation in just how big a pest they are on individual dogs and cats. Generally any dog or cat that isn’t being treated with flea control will have an occasional flea. Some pets tolerate a few fleas without a problem and other pets find them more irritating.

Some pets are also allergic to the fleas and so have major skin problems that need closer attention.

If you’re not using regular flea control in your pets then often the flea population explodes. Then suddenly you find that there are many fleas around and you have to play catch up trying to control them.

The main flea that we see on our pets is in fact the cat flea which will live on both dogs and cats.

vetaround mobile vet

vetaround mobile vet

The adults jump onto your pet and feed on blood. So they have to bite the animal to feed. This can be annoying at best. Because fleas feed on blood their faeces is digested blood – the little black bits that you see in the coat of pets with flea burdens.

The adults then breed on the animal and the eggs produced fall into the environment where they hatch into larvae and eventually form pupae which hatch into young adults that jump back on the animal and the cycle starts again.

If you see one or two fleas on your pet, you can be sure there are thousands of eggs and larvae in the environment.

What this means is that flea control consists of treating both your dog or cat with a good quality product AND also treating the environment.

Most of the products our mobile vets recommend are given monthly. You can use pipettes that go on the skin on the back of your pet’s neck. Or you can choose an oral products.

Some products treat fleas alone and others combine flea, intestinal worms and heartworm into one monthly product.

Your best bet is to discuss this with our house call vet to help you decide which is the best product in for your pet’s circumstances.

Generally Vetaround recommend you treat fleas monthly for life. This means not stopping in winter! If you stop treating in winter the fleas are still present in the form of pupae that can hibernate over the cooler months. So then when spring comes around suddenly all the pupae are hatching into adults and the cycle can rev up very quickly before you get a chance to even start the flea control again.

The best way to control fleas in the environment is to always keeping your pets bedding clean and washed and ensuring the house is vacuumed and dusted as much as possible.

With large flea burdens using “flea bombs” and surface sprays can be very useful.

It is very important to ensure that the one you use contains an insect growth regulator or IGR to control the eggs and larvae as well. If it doesn’t have this then it isn’t worth the money.

Ensure you follow the instructions on the can carefully. Surface sprays also with IGRs are useful under or behind furniture as the bombs don’t get to these places that well. Sometimes it is even worth having a professional pesticide company come in and do the whole environment, inside and out. But again ensure they use an IGR.

Ticks

Traditionally we haven’t thought of ticks as being a problem in the eastern suburbs of Sydney as there just isn’t the habitat present for the tick and their natural host the bandicoot. However more recently there have been anecdotal reports of dogs that have contracted a tick without having left the eastern suburbs so this picture may be changing.

Ticks are typically picked up by your pet when he is rummaging through natural bush areas, generally up and down the coast or inland. Any stage of nymph or adult can jump onto the dog or cat but generally only the adult female tick causes tick paralysis.

The tick engorges on blood and then jumps off. Clinical signs of tick paralysis can occur within a few days of engorging and include weakness starting in the back legs which progresses up the body to include all four limbs, trouble breathing or a groany noise when

breathing or barking, or an altered meow and vomiting or regurgitating food or water.

Sometimes dogs just don’t seem right and may be panting more than usual. Cats will often just be reluctant to move around at all, may have trouble breathing and often have very wide eyes.

If you notice any of these signs it is important you seek veterinary attention immediately.

If left untreated, many or most of these animals will die often within 24 hours of the first signs being noted.

When going into a tick prone area it is important to use a good tick control product. You must also do a daily check for ticks as no product is guaranteed.

Checking for ticks is done purely with your finger tips slowly moving against the hair grain from the head to the tail.

About 70% of ticks attach from the chest forward and so concentrate on this area first. If there are no ticks there then move to the back end of the animal. Remember to check everywhere including the ears, under the lips, between the toes and other nooks and crannies around the animal, including sometimes the anus (maybe leave this one to the vet!).

Ticks are attached very firmly – there are good tick removing devices available to make removal easier – ideally you want to remove the whole tick including the buried head section.

If you don’t remove the head, don’t worry – no more toxin will be injected and you can’t cause worse toxicity by trying to remove the tick. If you are unsure how to do this then just leave it on but ensure you call the vet immediately.

There are many tick control products but the best ones are either the pipettes that you place on the back of the neck usually fortnightly, or tablets you give while you are in the tick prone area.

if you choose to continue treatment for your pet while in the eastern suburbs area that is fine but remember that you must use the product according to the instructions for tick control which usually means administering it fortnightly. If you stick to using the products monthly they will generally only cover fleas.

To learn more about fleas and ticks in pets contact our mobile vet today

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