PESKY PARASITES

 

by Miriam Kerins

 

Please Note: Disclaimer!

The below article is written purely as a guideline, and as an information source only.  It is in no way intended to be used, nor should it ever be used, as a substitute for professional veterinary advice.  If you have any concerns regarding your animal's health or behaviour, please contact your local veterinarian without delay.

 

When I was head of education at the DSPCA, one of the most frequently asked questions  from those signing up to  take part in my responsible pet care and ownership workshops usually centred around dealing with canine fleas.  And, while it's true, these pests are more likely to cause problems during the warm weather, I would always tell participants that they’re also known to hang around during the cool season mainly due to their abilities to continue their life cycle indoors. Ah yes, those dreaded fleas…We can never, ever underestimate the determination of these little freeloaders; and, while they can be neutralised, it’s worth bearing in mind that they are very resilient and have a four stage cycle making it difficult to get rid of them.

 

For example, did you know that a flea can live in our environment for over a year without feeding and is protected by their impenetrable shell?  It’s at this stage they survive most treatments and return to breed and re-populate year after year; sort of like a series of bad horror movie sequels.  Remember Friday 13th?

 

So, be warned; one hatched cocoon can produce over a trillion offspring in her nine month life-span.  This army can continue to fight time and again, causing a serious health risk to your pet (and in extreme circumstances, anaemia). So you see, treating your pet is essential for both their good health and in order to kill any errant fleas entering from other quarters.

 

Remember, fleas can jump over six feet - yes, you read that correctly, six feet - and can get into your home via pets and humans alike.  If you’ve got white clothing, like runners, sports socks, t-shirts; well, they’ll just love that environment.  They’ll likely get into the sitting room and live there unnoticed and will happily reproduce without you ever even knowing it…well, not until the problem is at an advanced stage.  So, when treating, it’s best to treat everywhere; i.e. indoors, outbuildings,  garages, sheds, and dog kennels, etc.

 

So, with that in mind, when it comes to your canine and their relationship with fleas, below are some FAQs I’d like to try and address. However, I will stress again, I am not a veterinary professional, and it’s imperative pet parents’ seek expert advice regarding their precious fur babies’ health and welfare:

 

About the house: Regularly hoover carpets, bedding and furniture – making sure to get under sofas, beds, tables and into crevices, etc.,  and anywhere else your dog spends time; remembering to immediately dispose of/empty your hoover bag, otherwise it will act as an incubator for un-hatched fleas. Regular washing of your dog’s bedding will help.

 

In the garden: Fleas thrive in shady, protected areas where your dog loves to rest.  Keep an eye on these areas and clean them regularly. This is important: Seek advice from your vet regarding a recommendation for safe cleaning products.  Keep your grass short and get rid of any dark, moist heaps like leaves or rubbish.

 

Your pet’s diet: Fleas love malnourished animals because their immune systems are weak.  Make sure your pet has a balanced diet. Consult your vet for advice regarding proper feeding.

 

Please note: There are thousands of species of fleas out there,  but there is usually a specific species that will prefer your dog as a host, and it is vital that you understand that a dog flea WILL NOT be able to survive on a human being…so do not panic. A dog flea may jump onto a human and may bite a human, but that’s where it will end. A dog flea will not, nor cannot survive on you, a human being because our blood is not appealing to them. They prefer to eat canine blood.  I cannot stress that enough. So do not use fleas as a reason to get rid of your dog! Always consult your vet for professional advice.

 

Treatment: However, again, talk to your vet.

Flea Shampoo

Regular Grooming

On-Pet spray

Monthly Spot Applications

Treat all dogs in the household at the same time

So pet lovers, if you want your fur baby to be happy and free of irritation, allergies and infestation, please do not allow this remorseless enemy to survive in his/her environment.

 

While I would always urge you to  check with your vet, as a pet parent myself,  it is my belief that prevention is better than cure, and I personally use a systemic monthly flea product which dramatically reduces the flea burden in both mine and my beloved dogs’ environment.

© Miriam Kerins

 

CLICK TO READ MORE FROM MIRIAM:

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Keep pets safe during rising temperatures

Keep pets safe at Hallowe'en

The Christmas Countdown

Common pet poisons!

Do dogs sweat?

Why do some children abuse animals?

Pesky parasites

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