Sydney Mobile Vet Service

Mon / Fri 7:30 am - 7 pm

Sat 9 am - 4 pm

Fleas and Ticks

VETaround mobile vet in Sydney is committed to first-class and comprehensive pet care… and it starts with the essentials.

Our at-home vet can advise and help you with all aspects of flea and tick control, because while they may be small, these pests can be your dog or cat’s biggest irritant.

To ensure your pet is pest-free – and comfortable – it’s very important to stay on top of flea and tick control.

Understanding fleas

Understanding fleas

While the extent of flea irritation can vary enormously, pet owners should realise that any dog or cat without flea control will likely pick up fleas at some stage. Some pets tolerate a small number of fleas without any issue. For others, even a few fleas can be highly irritating. Dogs and cats may also be allergic to fleas, which can lead to major skin issues if left untreated.

The main flea that we see on our pets is in fact the cat flea, which lives on both dogs and cats. Adult fleas jump on your pet’s skin and bite and feed on their blood. Their faeces contain digested blood, and these are the small black dots you will notice on an infected animal’s coat.

Adult fleas breed on your pet and produce eggs, which fall into the environment. They hatch into larvae and form pupae which hatch into young adults. These fleas begin to feed on your animal – and the cycle starts again.

Without effective flea control, flea populations explode. So, what seemed to be one flea can very quickly become an infestation. For your dog or cat, this can be annoying at best. Irritated skin and a constant itch may also lead your pet to scratch excessively, further damaging their skin.

First-class flea treatments

First-class flea treatments

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 effective flea control consists of treating both your dog or cat with a good quality product – and treating your home.

Most of the products our Sydney mobile vet recommends require monthly applications. You can use a pipette to apply it on the back of your pet’s neck, or you could opt for oral products. Some products treat fleas alone and others combine flea, intestinal worms and heartworm into one monthly treatment.

Generally, VETaround recommends you treat fleas monthly, for life. This means not stopping in winter! Fleas are still present in the form of pupae that hibernate over the cooler months. When spring arrives, so do new fleas, and numbers can escalate before you’ve had a chance to restart your pet’s flea control.

Putting flea treatment to the dog

Fleas in the environment

The best way to control fleas in the environment is to keep pet bedding clean and washed and to regularly vacuum and dust your home.

One option for large flea populations is a ‘flea bomb’ or surface spray. It is very important to ensure that the one you use contains an insect growth regulator or IGR to control both eggs and larvae. Without this, the treatment will be ineffective.

Ensure you follow all instructions very carefully. Surface sprays with IGRs are useful under or behind furniture as the bombs sometimes don’t reach these places. In some cases, you might also consider hiring a professional pesticide company to treat your home, inside and out. To be effective, you must ensure they use an IGR.

Have questions about flea control? Our Sydney mobile vet can chat to you on his next visit. Or call us if you need recommendations on the best products for your pet.

Vital tick awareness

Vital tick awareness

Ticks can be incredibly dangerous for your pet, so tick awareness is absolutely essential.

Ticks are typically found in natural bush areas, both along the coast and inland. Their natural host is the bandicoot. Traditionally, we haven’t encountered a lot in Sydney’s inner or eastern suburbs. Anecdotal reports of dogs contracting ticks in the eastern suburbs suggest this may be changing.

Both nymph and adult ticks can jump onto a dog, where they gorge on blood before jumping off. The most dangerous is the adult female tick, which causes tick paralysis.

Clinical signs of tick paralysis can occur within a few days of engorging. They range from weakness that starts in the back legs and progresses to all four limbs, difficulty breathing, a groaning sound when breathing or barking, an altered meow, vomiting and regurgitation of food or water. Dogs may seem out of character or pant more than usual. Cats will often 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 clinical signs.

How to check for ticks

How to check for ticks

It’s essential that you use a quality tick control product, especially if heading into bushland. You should also do a daily check for ticks, as no product is 100% guaranteed.

To check for ticks on your dog or cat, slowly move your fingertips against the fur from head to tail. About 70% of ticks attach from the chest forward, so concentrate on this area first. Remember to check the ears, under the lips, between the toes and other nooks and crannies including the anus (or you can leave this one to our mobile vet!).

Ticks are generally brown, teardrop shaped and around the size of an apple seed. Once they feed, they change to grey or white, are more rounded, and they may expand to about 1cm long. You will likely notice a small round bump on your pet’s skin where the tick has attached itself.

Close up of a hand applying flea prevention medication to a cat's neck.

Effective tick treatment

Ticks attach very firmly to your pet’s skin. To remove, grasp the tick and firmly pull it sideways. There are also devices available that make removal much easier.

Ticks bury their heads into pet’s skin, and ideally you want to remove the whole tick, including the buried head. Don’t stress if you’re unable to remove the head as no more toxin will be released. If you are unsure how to remove a tick, please call our mobile vet immediately.

There are a number of effective products for tick prevention, most commonly pipettes that you apply to the back of the neck fortnightly, or tablets.

If you choose to treat your dog or cat for ticks while at home in the eastern suburbs or inner Sydney, it’s vital that you follow the instructions carefully and administer exactly as specified. If you apply less frequently than directed, it will not protect your pet.

If you’re unsure about any aspect of flea and tick control, our home visit vet can help. Contact us for advice or to book in a consultation.


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