Dr. Megan Kelly advises:
We all see fleas and ticks occasionally on our pets but are we aware of the significance of their presence to the health of our family and to our pets?
Your pet picks fleas up from the environment. They rarely jump from pet to pet. Infested animals will leave eggs behind wherever they go. New fleas hatch and once they sense the vibration and warmth of an animal they will jump onto their host.
Fleas cause the obvious itchy discomfort for your pet but there are other more serious health implications.
The dangers of fleas:
- Did you know that if your pet has fleas there is a strong likelihood your pet has worms? Dipylidium caninum (tapeworm) is contracted by animals and humans after ingesting a flea. The flea larva will ingest the tapeworm eggs resulting in the adult fleas being carriers. Signs that your pet may be suffering from worms include pot belly (severe), weight loss, lacklustre coat and anal itchiness.
- Anaemia: With a severe infestation animals can lose enough blood and may suffer from anaemia.
- Allergies: Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is an allergy to the bite of a flea and it can result in severe itchiness, redness and discomfort. Sometimes it just takes one bite. The classic area for FAD is the area on the back above the tail.
These conditions can all be treated by your local veterinarian.
Ticks are maybe not as common as fleas but they are often present and unnoticed until they are large and engorged.
The dangers of ticks:
- Babesia or Biliary (cats and dogs) as it’s more commonly known is transmitted from the bite of the tick. It takes 24-48 hours to transmit the disease. This disease is fatal and can progress very quickly.
Signs of Biliary include:
- Pale mucous membranes.
The disease causes anaemia and other complications and can be fatal.
- Erlichia canis or erlichiosis (dogs only): This is also tick born disease but has a slower presentation. It has similar signs to Biliary but is usually also associated with swollen lymph nodes.
- Wound infection: This can occur at the area of the tick bite. Certain ticks can cause a severe reaction resulting in the skin and tissue becoming infected.
These conditions can be fatal and require veterinary care.
© Dr. Megan Kelly 2013
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