Fleas, ticks and mites are all common springtime challenges for pets on the Border.
The cat flea is the most common type of external parasite that infests both cats and dogs. The most common signs are scratching around the tail base in dogs and scratching around the head in cats. Severe infestations can result in life threatening anaemia or a low red blood cell count.
Controlling fleas involves both patient based and environmental treatment. There is a large range of products available for flea control and you should talk to your local veterinarian about what products are appropriate for your pet and what environmental control is needed to help break the flea life cycle in your home. There are a number of different types of mites that can affect both cats and dogs. Cats commonly are affected by ear mites (Otodectescynotis), whilst dogs are commonly affected by mange mites (sarcoptes scabiei or Demadicosis canis). A diagnosis of mites if often made based on samples collected and examined under the microscope. Most mites can now be easily controlled with commercially available flea treatment.
Ticks are common in bush and range lands, however can be picked up in some surprising places. There are a large number of different species of tick. Some of them can cause life threatening paralysis, whilst others are more likely to cause skin irritation and potentially transmit tick born diseases.
The paralysis tick is usually located in coastal areas, however, can be transmitted on people, cars and objects that have travelled from the coast inland. There are a number of different products that can be used to treat and prevent tick related disease. It is important to chat with your vet and seek advice on what product is the most suitable for your pet in your local area.
Written by Dr Alice Edwards BVSc Hons