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External Parasites

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At some stage of their lives, many pets experience discomfort caused by external parasites such as fleas, ticks, or mites on their skin or in their ears. These parasites can be extremely irritating to pets and can cause serious skin problems or even carry disease.{{more}}


In our climate, fleas are seasonal all year round. Your pet can pick up fleas wherever an infestation exists, often in areas frequented by other dogs and cats. Adult fleas are dark brown, no bigger than a pin head, and able to move rapidly over your pet’s skin.

Once the flea becomes an adult, it spends virtually all of its time on your pet.

Female fleas begin laying eggs within 24 hours of selecting your pet as a host, producing up to 50 eggs each day. These eggs fall from your pet onto the floor or furniture, including your pet’s bed or onto any other indoor or out door area where your pet happens to go.

Tiny wormlike larvae hatch from the eggs and burrow into carpets, under furniture, or into soil before spinning a cocoon. The cocooned flea pupae can lie dormant (inactive) for weeks before emerging as adults that are ready to infest (or reinfest) your pet. The result is a flea life cycle of anywhere from 12 days to 6 months, depending on environmental factors such as temperature and humidity.

Diagnosis, Risks and Consequences.

You may not know that your pet has fleas until their number increases to the point that your pet is obviously uncomfortable. Signs of flea problems range from mild redness to severe scratching that can lead to open sores and skin infections (hot spots). One of the first signs you may notice on a pet with fleas is “flea dirt” – the black flea droppings left on your pet’s coat. You may not actually see the fleas themselves, but they can still be on your pet and the environment.

Fleas bite animals and suck their blood; young or small pets with heavy flea infestations may become anemic. Some pets can develop an allergy to flea saliva that may result in more severe irritation and scratching; these pets can become severely itchy from just one or two flea bites. Also, pets can become infected with certain types of tapeworms if they ingest fleas carrying tapeworm eggs (a pet using its teeth to scratch the flea bites often eats the fleas). In areas with moderate to severe flea infestations, people may also be bitten by fleas. Fleas are capable of transmitting several infectious diseases to pets and people.

One example of a disease that is quite common in cats is hemobartonellosis. This disease is transmitted from cat to cat by means of a flea or tick bite. If the infected cat scratches a human, they could become ill with the disease called “cat scratch disease”. Some tape worms are also transmitted to humans when they unwittingly ingests a flea that serves as the intermittent host for the tapeworm.

Your veterinarian will recommend an appropriate flea control plan for your pet based on your needs, your pet’s needs and the severity of the flea infestation.

Because much of the flea’s life cycle is spent off your pet, treating only your pet will not eliminate the problem. If you kill the adult fleas and do not kill the eggs, larvae and pupae, your pet will become reinfested when these fleas become adults and the cycle will start all over again. Therefore, in addition to treating your pet, reduce the flea population in your pet’s living area by thoroughly cleaning the area and floors or furniture that your pet comes into contact with frequently.

For further information, contact: Dr. Collin Boyle Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd. Tel: 456 4981