In heavy infestations small black specs of dirt may be seen at the base of the coat- these are actually flea dirt which is actually the dry blood the flea has digested and will run red when placed on a damp tissue.
Heavy infestations can cause severe anaemia in young animals, as a flea can suck up to 15 times their own body weight and bite an average of 10 times a day.
Skin irritations and in severe cases Flea Allergy Dermatitis, which is a serious skin allergy-, signs of this include loss of hair and excessive grooming and licking.
Three steps to preventing fleas
Some people think that fleas, ticks and lice are just a problem in the summer, but this is not the case. Your pet needs to be protected regularly whatever the season or it will be susceptible to the irritation- and more serious problems-that these bugs can bring.
As the weather warms up, fleas and ticks start to breed quicker and quicker
The summer months are when your pet is at the most risk. The temperature and humidity can quickly lead to huge flea infestations and massive problems for your pet and your family.
This is the time of year when it’s particularly important to guard against tick infestations and the re-emergence of fleas, especially when you turn on the central heating.
It might be cold outside but your warm home makes an ideal breeding ground for fleas – the risk to your pet never goes away.
That why it is so important to keep up regular treatment, whatever the time of year.
Ear Mites (Otodectic Mange)
Ear mites live in the ear canals and cause irritation and inflammation which results in head shaking and scratching causing loss of fur and scabbing around the ears if left untreated. A brown discharge which looks like grains of coffee may be seen in the ears but the actual mite is difficult to visualize.
Treatment is via medicated ear drops or a specific spot-on flea treatment.
Walking Dandruff (Chyletiella)
Infestation of these mites’ causes scaling and irritation of the skin. The mites can survive for weeks in the environment and so this should be treated as for a flea infestation.
These mites can infest cats, dogs and rabbits and so all in contact animals should be treated if an infestation is found.
Harvest Mite (Noetrombicula autmnalis)
These mites can be seen by the naked eye as orange dots and several attach in the same area such as ears and between toes. They feed on the pet’s blood and cause irritation and inflammation of the area. This mite affects dogs, cats, humans and sometimes horses.
Demodex mites can cause alopecia (hair loss) and pustules on the skin. A lot of dogs will carry these mites all the time and they will not cause a problem for the dog. At times of stress or upset, the symptoms can appear. They can be treated with medicated shampoo.
Mange mites cause intense skin irritation and sores. They with can be treated with medicated shampoos or spot on treatments.
Ticks feed from the blood of the host and are generally found around the neck, face and ears. They can cause inflammation around the attachment site but the biggest threat is from their ability to transmit disease.
Regular use of a combined flea and tick spot-on treatment will provide effective protection if used correctly.
It is also important to regularly check your pet’s coat and skin for ticks, as this can help prevent the spread of disease even if one is located due to the fact that the transmission of disease usually occurs 48hrs after attachment.
This is a fungus which lives on the hair and causing circular lesions, usually on the head.
It is highly infectious and the shedding of hair and fungal spores in the environment means that it can easily be passed between pets even without direct contact.
Ringworm can be passed to dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents and people.
Treatment is through topical and oral administration of antifungals for at least 6 weeks.
Puppies /kittens can be infected with worms before they are even born. Roundworms can lay dormant in the muscles of the mother and migrate to the placenta. They are also transmitted whilst they are sucking.
These look like pale white earth worms that can cause a pot-bellied appearance, diarrhoea, weight loss, dull coat or slow weight gain. There are 2 types in dogs, toxocara canis and toxacara leonina. Toxocara canis can be transmitted to humans. It migrates through the digestive system into the blood stream and can settle in the eye causing blindness. It is therefore extremely important that your pet is regularly wormed and that you always thoroughly clean your hands. Toxocara cati, is a common problem in cats. Roundworm infection is possible via ingestion of worm eggs in the surrounding environment and tapeworm infection through eating such things as snails, birds, mice, offal and faeces.
Immature tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum) are also found in fleas, which your pet may ingest during grooming resulting in adult tapeworms developing in the intestines. Therefore it is also important to use regular flea treatment along with worming.
Worms are a very common problem in both indoor and outdoor animals and regular treatment is essential.
Tapeworm eggs are transmitted by ingesting raw meat, carcasses and faeces but also through ingesting fleas which carry tapeworms.
If your pet is infected with tapeworms you may see what look like grains of rice around the anus, these are tapeworm segments. They also cause diarrhoea and vomiting.
This type of worm can be caught by eating faeces from an infected animal. They live by sucking the blood from the wall of the intestines. Symptoms include weight loss and bloody diarrhoea. Whipworms are not as common as round and tapeworms.
Lungworm disease in dogs often affects young dogs less than two years old and is often a chronic disease, lasting months or years. However, it will occasionally cause sudden death. It can manifest as weight loss, breathing difficulties and coughing up blood, vomiting, persistent bleeding, stomach and back pain, fits, paralysis, circling and heart failure.
Infection can easily occur in humans (especially in children) through handling of your pet and faeces. This can cause serious disease after ingestion as the worms can migrate from the intestines to other areas of the body such as the eyes where they can cause blindness.
A broad spectrum wormer which protects against a variety of roundworms, tapeworms, hookworm, heart worm and whipworm is the most ideal treatment. At the surgery we have several products that we can recommend, please speak to one of our Nurses.
Puppies/kittens should be treated once a month until 6 months of age- this is because worm eggs take a month to mature, and the worming tablet will only kill adults, not the eggs. Once your pet reaches 6 months treatment is to be given once every 3 months for the rest of their life.
If your pet is a hunter and regularly catching wildlife treatment may be required more often and is safe to administer monthly