The warmer months in Australia are prime season for fleas and ticks. These tiny pests can vary between being an annoying nuisance to catastrophic and potentially fatal, especially for pets…
Fleas, found worldwide, are wingless parasites that feed on the blood of their host – animal or human. They can transfer diseases between hosts, and transmit typhus as well as tapeworm larvae. Fleas are most infamous for transmitting bubonic plague from rodents to humans elsewhere in the world.
Fleas may not fly, but they can jump remarkable distances. They breed excessively, and flea eggs are dormant and may hatch after long periods of time.
Cat and dog fleas are very common in Australia. Their bite causes intense itching, and scratching can result in secondary infections. Dogs and cats are common flea reservoirs, and if they have fleas they will scratch intensely and be irritable.
Fleas are easy to identify on your pet by parting the fur, particularly around the ears, under the chin, and on the rump. Flea excrement (poop) is also easy to identify as it looks like tiny dark specks.
Dogs and cats should be treated preventatively for fleas ever month; during infestation, they need to be treated fortnightly with a vet product for several weeks. Treatment may include powders, shampoos, rinses, sprays, collars, tablets, solutions to put on the skin, and combing. It is also critical to treat your pet for tapeworm at the same time.
Additionally, clean your house, including all bedding, vacuum the carpets, and throw away the vacuum cleaner bag. Safely spray or flea bomb the home and consider having a professional pest controller treat the home.
Fleas are the top cause of skin disease in pets and some dogs are allergic to their bite. They are very much easier to prevent than to eliminate.
Ticks are parasitic members of the arachnid (spider) family and the Australian paralysis tick is particularly dangerous. It feeds on the blood of both animals and humans, and causes paralysis by injecting neurotoxins into its host as it feeds on its blood. Natural hosts are koalas, possums, bandicoots, kangaroos, and reptiles, though pets and livestock animals are also victims. Tick season occurs year round but predominantly in the hot and humid months.
SIGNS OF TICK PARALYSIS
- Weakness in the back legs
- Loss of coordination
- Excessive salivation
- Coughing or retching
- Difficult or loud breathing
- Strange sounding bark
- Appetite loss
Tick paralysis can be fatal if not identified and treated promptly.
- Check your pet for ticks EVERY DAY. Use your eyes and fingertips to feel through the coat from top to tail Ticks or the craters they leave feel like lumps. Pay special attention to the face, neck, chest, and ears. Also search the lips and in all skin folds, including the armpits, between the toes, and under the tail.
- Remember that many times, ticks are not alone, and some pets can be infested.
- Avoid tick habitats wherever possible – bush, scrub, and long grass or compost areas
- If you find a tick, remove it immediately by its head where it connects with the pet’s skin. Take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.