External Parasites: Fleas & Ticks

Fleas
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 part of the adult flea population actually lives on your pet. This means that your pet may be getting bitten by fleas but you may not always see them on your pet, especially as fleas will tend to jump onto your pet only to feed and then jump off again.

The fleas’ eggs and larvae live in the environment and can survive for up to a year. This makes regular flea treamtents important as they can just back onto your pet once their temporary flea control has worn out.
To control the flea population in the environment 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.
Dogs and cats can have a reaction to flea saliva resulting in a skin condition called Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). Treatment of FAD 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 (especially over the rump and in the groin region)
  • 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 rump. If the cotton ball takes on black specs surrounded by a reddish area, this may be flea dirt and can indicate that your pet has fleas.

Ticks
Ticks are an external parasite, belonging to the class "arachnida", that bite and then attach to their host whilst feeding on their blood. Some species of ticks that are of concern to cats and dogs in Australia include: 

Bush Tick (Haemaphysalis Longicornis) 
Present in Western Australia. Symptoms that suggest your pet may have been bitten by a Bush Tick include irritation, discomfort, anaemia and in severe cases death

Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus Sanguineus)
Present in Western Australia. Symptoms that suggest your pet may have been bitten by a Brown Dog Tick include irritation, discomfort and anaemia in sever cases

Paralysis Tick (Ixodes Holocyclus, Ixodes Cornuatus)
Although Paralysis Ticks are not found in Western Australia, it is important to keep tick prevention up to date when travelling to the Eastern States, or you know someone who has travelled recently to the Eastern States as they can carry them over. 
Symptoms that suggest your pet may have been bitten by a Paralysis Tick include hind leg weakness, lethargy, loss of apetite, change in bark, difficulty in breathing, vomiting, excissive salivation, gagging and can result in death.

Be sure to check your pets regularly for ticks focusing behind the ears, groin area, "arm pit" and between toes, especially if you have recently visited bush or farmland.
 

Fleas and ticks can be easily prevented through a number of ways including chewables, topical and tablets, call us to discuss an appropriate flea and tick control program for your pet.


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.

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