Flea & Tick
With so many products available now, it is hard to know what to choose. We provide advice and a range of different prevention and treatment options for fleas, flea allergy dermatitis, and ticks.
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.
The fleas’ eggs and larvae live in the environment and can survive for up to a year, so it is important to not only treat your animal directly for fleas but also decontaminate the environment as well. 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.
Fleas will tend to jump onto your pet only to feed and then jump off again. Dogs and cats can have a reaction to flea saliva resulting in a skin condition called Flea Allergy Dermatitis or FAD. Treatment of FAD can be complicated and veterinary consultation is recommended.
Signs that your pet is affected by fleas:
- 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.
If not treated, pets can quickly die (within 1-2 days) from tick paralysis by the time you realise they are sick. Rarely, pets may not have a reaction to a tick bite, though most pets will.
Don’t wait to see if your pet gets better, seek veterinary attention immediately. The earlier your pet is treated after being bitten, the more likely they are to survive an attack.
If you travel outside of our area, be sure your pet has protection against ticks. Sydney and the east coast of Australia has a high number of paralysis ticks living in the environment.
The main tick of concern for pet owners is the Paralysis Tick (Ixodes holocyclus) as it can cause paralysis and death within 2-4 days of attachment. Whilst Paralysis Ticks occur naturally only in certain geographic areas (mainly along the coastal eastern seaboard of Australia) they can attach to pets who visit these areas during the warmer months, particularly if they are allowed to run through scrub. Ticks may also hitch a ride back with you or a neighbour in cars, rugs, towels, plants and wildlife.
If you notice a tick on your pet, please call us immediately to make an appointment to have it removed.
If your pet starts to display any signs of tick paralysis, do not offer food or water as these may be accidentally inhaled in tick-affected dogs. Seek immediate veterinary attention as this is a genuine veterinary emergency.
Signs of tick paralysis:
- Breathing difficulty
- Altered bark
Treatment of tick paralysis includes searching for and removing all ticks. This may include clipping the animal completely and/or the use of medication to kill remaining ticks.
Tick antiserum is administered to counteract the toxin and supportive care is provided during recovery. This can be costly in comparison to what it would cost to use tick prevention initially.
No tick prevention is 100% effective and should always be used in combination with daily tick searches of your pet.
Searching your pet shouldn’t cease once you return from tick-affected regions but should continue for at least 7 days after returning home. Use your fingers to feel over the entire body, especially under the collar, on the face and around the front of your pet. Don’t forget to check carefully between the toes, under the lips and in the ears.
Recovery from paralysis
Upon recovery, it is imperative to give food and water in small amounts, then increase the portion in size whilst extending the time between meals until your pet is back to eating properly. Your pet may inhale or choke on the food due to the effects of paralysis, so be sure to monitor your pet as closely as possible around feeding time.
If your pet is a diabetic or has a medical condition, your pet may remain in hospital until it is back to normal health for that pet.