Fleas bite and cause irritation to your dog or cat’s skin. The most common signs of flea
problems are scratching (especially around the base of the tail) and finding “flea dirt”
(small dark grains of dried blood) in your pets’ coat or bedding.
You may not see adult fleas on your pet but this does not mean they are not infested.
95% of the flea population are the microscopic life stages that live in the environment
of the animal.
Fleas may jump onto your pet just to feed then jump off again. Some dogs and cats are
very sensitive to flea bites or saliva and can end up with a skin condition known as Flea
Allergy Dermatitis, even if no fleas are visible on your pet.
The most important source of fleas is NOT other dogs or cats with fleas but newly
developed adult fleas lying in wait in the environment (e.g. in your pets’ bedding, the
dirt under the house, the carpet etc.). Adult fleas live and feed on animals and the female
lays eggs which fall off into the environment.
These eggs develop first into larvae then into pupae. The pupae contain adult fleas lying in wait for a suitable animal host. The highest number of flea eggs, larvae and pupae will be found in areas in the house where pets spend most time, but you probably won’t be able to see them as the eggs are microscopic and the larvae burrow deep down into the carpet or cracks in the floor.
Fighting a flea infestation can be simple if the right products are used. Products such as flea collars, flea shampoos and rinses will kill the fleas on your pet at the time, but will not kill the fleas in the environment. Unfortunately it is virtually impossible to clean your environment of fleas by vacuuming or washing or spraying, so this environmental reservoir will continue to reinfest your pet.
Feral or native animals can also act as sources of new flea infestation. If you are using a product that only kills adult fleas on your pet, it can take several months to get control of the flea problem as the various stages of the flea life cycle continue in your environment. Flea bombs or foggers are not very effective at penetrating into the nooks and crannies favoured by fleas, while sprays are unable to kill the pupae and require daily vacuuming for two weeks for maximum effectiveness.
Monthly flea spot-ons (such as Frontline Plus, Advantage and Advocate) are effective in killing the fleas on your pet for an entire month. There is also the option of a monthly tablet (Comfortis) that seems especially useful in those animals that have ongoing flea problems despite regular spot-on treatment (perhaps because they keep washing the spot-on products off by jumping in the dam or trough!).
These products break the flea life cycle and control all flea stages (adults, eggs and larvae) with each application, so that as new fleas jump onto your pet, they are quickly exterminated by the long-lasting treatment while eggs and larvae are prevented from developing into pupae. All pets in the household should be treated and bedding cleaned regularly to achieve the best flea control.
While fleas are more common during the warmer months, it is important to keep applying the spot-on treatments or tablets monthly, even over the cooler months. This gives you the best chance of effectively killing the flea life stages as they develop. These products are safe to use in puppies and kittens over 8 weeks of age (some from as young as 2 days old!) and in pregnant or lactating bitches and queens. They should be applied to a dry coat and your pet should not be bathed or allowed to swim for 2 days after application.
Make sure that dog flea products are NOT applied to cats – this can be fatal to your cat!
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(02) 6341 3113
Puppies and kittens are very susceptible to intestinal worms so worming is one of the first health care issues that will arise with your pet. Not surprisingly, intestinal worms are parasites that live inside your pet’s intestines. They range in size from very small to very large (up to 20cm long). Pets with a large number of worms find it difficult to maintain body condition (though they may look pot bellied) and can lose weight. Some worm infestations can result in vomiting, diarrhoea and blood loss leading to anaemia (low red blood cells) and even death.
Common intestinal worms found in Australian pets are hookworm, roundworm, whipworm and tapeworm. Each of these worms has different life cycles and life stages and prevention is not always as simple as a tablet every now and then. For example, flea prevention is an important way of controlling some tapeworms.
The most important thing is to maintain a routine worming treatment for your pets. This will help reduce the level of infection and the number of worms in the environment which helps to prevent reinfection. Another good reason to worm your pets is to protect your family – children in particular can become infected with certain dog and cat worms.
Puppies should be wormed every 2 weeks after birth until they are 3 months old, then every month until they are 6 months old, then every 3 months for life. Pregnant animals should be wormed before mating then after whelping to ensure the puppies are not born full of these nasty parasites.
Some other tips to consider regarding worm prevention:
Clean up any pet faeces around the house or yard
Practice good hygiene – encourage children to wash their hands regularly especially before eating and after playing with pets or playing in dirt or sandpits
Dispose of dog faeces in public parks and playgrounds
Heartworm is very different from intestinal worms. Heartworm is a parasite that is spread by mosquitoes and is more common in coastal areas, where there tends to be more moisture and more mosquitoes.
However if you take your dog or cat to the coast for holidays or if you go to events where animals from different areas congregate (e.g. dog shows) then the risk of contracting heartworm is increased.
Dogs or cats infected with heartworm have an immature form of heartworm (microfilaria) circulating in their bloodstream. These microfilariae are sucked up by mosquitoes when feeding on the blood of infected animals and they then develop into a heartworm larva inside the mosquito. If a carrier mosquito bites your dog or cat they may become infected.
Mature worms can cause a physical blockage in the heart as well as thickening of the heart and associated blood vessels. In the early stages of infection there may be no visible signs, however, infection can lead to heart failure (reluctance to exercise, lethargy, coughing) and even death.
While it is a very nasty disease, heartworm is easy to prevent and there are a number of preventative treatment options available including tablets, chews, spot-on's and an annual injection for dogs.
If your pet has not been on regular heartworm prevention, they may need a heartworm test prior to starting a prevention program