TREATING AND PREVENTING FLEAS AND TICKS

FLEAS

Fleas are among the most common health problems of dogs and cats. In the long run, it is much easier and more cost-effective to prevent fleas on pets than to have to treat a major infestation of fleas in the house. Regular use of flea products will take care of the occasional flea your pets may encounter in the garden and should prevent you from having to spend large sums money on fumigation and pest control products.

Fleas will bite your pets, causing an itchy allergic reaction, which can become quite severe. They can carry viral and bacterial diseases. In small animals, especially puppies and kittens, the anemia they cause from feeding on the animal’s blood can be fatal. They also carry tapeworms. Tapeworm segments in the stool or around the rectal area look like small grains of rice. If your dog or cat has fleas, chances are good he has tapeworms - and vice versa.

Wildlife, as well as other cats and dogs, bring fleas into your garden. Pets and people can then bring the fleas into the house. Birds nesting in the attic or mice seeking shelter can also bring fleas into your home. Fleas also travel on their own, as much as a mile an hour. They will hop inside through an open door or window and are often small enough to come through a window screen. Once inside your home there is no place a flea cannot get to. Adult fleas spend most of their time on your pet, but the remainder of the time they are roaming your house and laying eggs – thousands of them!

If you’ve never been lucky enough to see a flea, they are about 1/8-inch-long, reddish brown and shaped like a sesame seed with legs. They are usually found on your pet’s head, belly or lower back. If you ripple the hair backwards and look at the skin they can be seen scurrying through the base of the hair coat. The droppings they leave behind can be seen in clusters. They look like grains of pepper. If you place some of these on a moistened white sheet of paper they will smudge into red blotches. This is because flea droppings contain digested blood. Plain dirt stays black or gray when wet.

Prevention

Fleas can usually be prevented by TREATING ALL PETS THAT GO OUTDOORS so they don’t bring reproducing fleas into the house. If you had fleas in previous years it is wise to use an environmental flea spray in the house as well, especially on the ground floor near doors and windows. This will kill the occasional flea that hops in on its own.

Many flea products sold in supermarkets and pet stores are not very effective. Some are even harmful to pets. Most compounds strong enough to be effective are available only through veterinary practices who are properly trained in their use. Insecticides should be used only according to label directions.

CARE IS NEEDED TO ENSURE THAT TOXICITY DOES NOT DEVELOP DUE TO THE CONCURRENT USE OF OTHER DRUGS, PESTICIDES OR CHEMICALS, OR BECAUSE THE COMPOUND USED WAS NOT SAFE FOR A PARTICULAR AGE OR TYPE OF ANIMAL.

Many insecticidal flea collars available in stores are not very effective and may even cause skin irritation on the pet’s neck. Flea shampoos and soaps are great for cleaning a dog or cat with fleas, but they often have no residual effect. They only kill fleas present on the pet at the time the bath is given.

As soon as the animal dries off, fleas will hop right back on. For long-term control you need a product that safely stays in or on the body for weeks or months at a time.

New Products on the Market

There are several new products on the market, which are changing the way we deal with fleas. Many products are very EFFECTIVE, EASY TO ADMINISTER (tablets and spot-on’s) and work on MORE THAN ONE TYPE OF PARASITE. Some products contain growth inhibitors/regulators (e.g. lufeneron in Program injection/tablets and S-methoprene in Indorex house spray).

These don’t kill adult fleas, but they BREAK THE LIFE CYCLE by preventing flea eggs from hatching and other immature stages from developing further (e.g. Program injection/tablets, Indorex environmental spray).

In our practice, we use Bravecto for the treatment of tick and flea infestations in dogs and cats. This product gets into blood stream by giving a tablet to dogs and applying a spot-on to cats (i.e. it is systemic). It is an insecticide (kills fleas) and acaricide (kills ticks). Bravecto provides IMMEDIATE and PERSISTENT flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and tick (Ixodes ricinus) killing activity for 3 MONTHS. Fleas and ticks must attach to the pet and commence feeding to be exposed to the active substance. The onset of effect is within 8 hours of attachment for fleas (C. felis) and 12 hours of attachment for ticks.

The product can be used as part of a treatment strategy for the control of flea allergy dermatitis (FAD).

We also stock Program©, Stronghold© and Advocate© for selected cases or on request. We stock Indorex© for the environment.

Program© is an injection given to cats every 6 months and an oral medication given to dogs once a month. It circulates in the pet’s bloodstream and is ingested by the flea when it bites the pet. The medication is a flea hormone, which will prevent the eggs that fleas lay from hatching out. This hormone has no effect on mammals so Program© has NO SIDE EFFECTS OR CONTRAINDICATIONS.

The medication makes its way into the bloodstream and affects the flea when the flea bites the pet.
The great thing about Program and Indorex is that they WILL prevent your home from being infested.

TICKS

Tick are blood-sucking parasites that lurk in long grass and attach to unsuspecting pets when they pass. They can cause skin infections or abscesses where they attach and potentially transmit diseases such as LYME DISEASE.

Most flea products kill or repel ticks, but TICKS ARE TOUGHER THAN FLEAS. They take longer to die and fall off the pet.

Bravecto is the product we recommend to treat and prevent tick infestations.

If you are considering beginning a flea or tick control program for your pets, please consult with us.

There are so many products on the market nowadays that it’s difficult to decide which ones are right for you. We are more than happy to help!

WORMING

95% of puppies can be born with intestinal worms! These parasites can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, stunted growth and even death. Some kinds are also transmissible to humans. Many cases of animal roundworms cause illness in children every year.

We recommend deworming puppies monthly until 6 months old, then every 3 months thereafter. In cases of increased risk e.g. where pets are hunters, scavenge, eat other animals faeces, etc., then monthly deworming is recommended.

For prevention of internal parasites, remove faecal material from your garden regularly and dispose of it.

So that you may better understand the problems internal parasites can cause, and what signs to look for, we have included a short description of the five most common types of internal parasites.

ROUNDWORMS . . .

are the most common type of intestinal worm. They are 2-4 inches long and resemble strands of spaghetti. They live in the small intestine, and may cause vomiting, diarrhea or weight loss. Larval worms also damage the liver and lungs while migrating through these organs on their way to the small intestine. Roundworms are transmitted via stools of other infected dogs or cats, or through the uterus of the mother dog to her unborn pups. Entire worms can sometimes be seen in the stools or vomitus of infested animals.

HOOKWORMS . . .

are half inch long worms that attach to the lining of the small intestine, causing blood loss and diarrhea. Puppies can become infected through the mother’s uterus before birth, or via her milk after birth. Older animals acquire hookworms through skin contact with the stools of other dogs or cats.

WHIPWORMS . . .

live in the large intestine. They are not as common as the other intestinal parasites but the disease they cause can be very serious. Bloody diarrhea and weight loss are the symptoms seen. These worms are transmitted by ingestion of the stools of infested animals.

TAPEWORMS . . .

live in the small intestine, where the head attaches to the intestinal wall and produces a chain of segments. Mature segments containing eggs are passed with the stool, or may be seen around the rectum. They resemble small grains of rice. They may be acquired by the ingestion of rodents or birds or, most commonly, through the ingestion of fleas. Flea control is essential to control tapeworm infestation.

COCCIDIA . . .

are one-celled protozoal parasites, more like bacteria rather than “worms”. Puppies can pick these up from their mother and they can also be acquired by eating rabbit or other wildlife droppings. They are treated with antibiotics.

GIARDIA . . .

are also protozoans. Antibiotics or special wormers kill them but they are difficult to eradicate completely and often flare up with stress or other intestinal problems. They are contagious to humans and cause vomiting and diarrhea in both people and pets.

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