Preventing Parasite Infestations: Keeping Fleas and Ticks Off Your Pet
Australia claims the top spot on the “Countries with the Most Dangerous Animals” list. Included among all our deadly creatures are fleas and ticks, which cause a variety of potentially life-threatening diseases. Do you know how to keep yourself and your pet safe from these blood-sucking parasites?
In Australia, fleas do not transmit diseases common in other parts of the world, such as the bubonic plague. However, we do need to be concerned about tapeworm infections and typhus. Follow these steps to prevent a flea infestation in your home:
- Ensure all household pets are given a flea preventive. Even if your cat never ventures outside, your dog can easily bring in hitchhiking fleas that will infest your cat. Routinely treat every pet with a high-quality preventive to stave off a flea invasion.
- Treat your yard with a pet-safe pesticide. Fleas lurk in warm, humid areas. Don’t accumulate leaf litter and debris in your yard, because they provide an excellent breeding ground for fleas. If you’re battling a flea outbreak, be sure to use a multi-pronged attack and treat indoor and outdoor environments to get rid of these pests.
- If your pet brings fleas into your home, treat the entire house with a long-lasting pesticide. Fleas can hibernate for months, emerging from the pupal stage only when conditions are right. To eradicate the fleas at all stages, vacuum daily and dispose of the bag or bleach the canister. Wash all your pet’s bedding with hot water, since eggs will fall off when she rests. Choose a home pesticide that has a residual effect, meaning it will last for months while the flea matures through its life cycle and stays susceptible to the chemical.
Battling a flea infestation is often time-consuming, costly, and frustrating. The best treatment is year-round prevention so these pests never take hold in your home and wreak havoc on your pet.
There are more than 800 tick species worldwide. Australia has 70 species, with 16 reported to feed on humans and pets. The conditions seen most commonly in Australia are spotted fever, Q fever, typhus, tick paralysis, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis. The paralysis tick, whose bite can cause death from paralysis that shuts down the body, is not currently seen in western Australia. However, if your dog is coughing and struggling to breathe after a trip to the eastern part of the country, she may have been bitten by this terrible tick. The brown dog tick, kangaroo tick, and bush tick are most commonly seen here.
- The brown dog tick can transmit anaplasma, babesia, or Ehrlichia bacterial infections, which cause hemolytic anemia, a condition in which the red blood cells are destroyed. Signs include:
- Pale gums
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Enlarged abdomen
- Discolored stool
Most pets can be treated with antibiotics at home, but severe cases require hospitalization for fluid therapy and blood transfusions.
- The kangaroo tick transmits Q fever, a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be passed from pets to people. The disease is easily transmitted through bodily fluids, bites from infected arthropods, or even through the air. It causes widespread inflammation of the blood vessels, which leads to red blood cell destruction and hemorrhage of the lungs, liver, and central nervous system. Look for these signs:
- Decreased appetite
Because Q fever can pass from pets to people, you must seek immediate medical attention if your pet is diagnosed with Q fever.
- The bush tick prefers to feed on cattle, but will also bite dogs and other animals. Infections are rare, and this tick mostly is just an irritating pest, although it can cause anemia in an animal covered with a large number of ticks.
Protect yourself and your pet by investing in high-quality flea and tick prevention. Many diseases can cause serious harm and illness, but prevention is simple and inexpensive compared to treatment.
Need to refill your pet’s flea and tick preventive? Stop in at Midwest Vet Centre to discuss the products that will keep your pet safe.