Ticks,Fleas & Worms
Help, my pet has a tick
If you find a small tick, remove it immediately by grasping it as close to the skin as possible with tweezers and removing it quickly. DO NOT SQUEEZE THE BODY OF THE TICK. A special tool called a tick twister is particularly useful for removing the tick in a safe way. These are available at our reception and are easy to use. Call us if you are unsure of the removal procedure, or if the tick is large. Most ticks on dogs tend to be found around the head, ears, neck and forelimbs. Ticks are commonly found between the shoulder blades of cats, as this is a difficult area for them to reach when grooming. They can also attach deep down the ear canal, inside the lips, under the tail base, around the bottom and between the toes. If you think your pet has a tick, keep it as cool and unstressed as possible, for example on a cold floor or in an air conditioned room. DO NOT offer anything to eat or drink. Contact The Ark Vet as soon as possible. Please bring the tick with you so we can assess how long it may have been on your pet.
When ticks first attach, they are very small, about the size of a match-head, they enlarge as they feed. The toxin is injected with the tick’s saliva as it feeds. The toxin causes paralysis, which starts as a wobbliness or weakness in the back legs and progressing to involve the whole body. Excessive salivation and vomiting can occur and the breathing pattern becomes more laboured. There may be a change in the character of the bark or meow as the muscles controlling vocalisation are affected.
Prompt veterinary attention is important to optimise your pet’s recovery. Some animals will survive without treatment, but some will die despite being given appropriate treatment. Treatment includes giving tick antiserum, and hospitalizing your pet until they are strong enough to return home. The length of time spent in hospital will depend on the severity of the paralysis.
There is no guaranteed protection against ticks, so careful daily searching is still recommended despite using a preventative product. Bravecto, Nexgard, Advantix and a Scalibor collar can be used for dogs only. Frontline spray applied every 2 weeks is the only product available on the market for cats.
How to search for Ticks
The best way to examine your pet is by using the finger crawl technique; moving your fingers across the animal in a line- like soldiers searching the entire animal for ticks by feel and not with your eyes. Do not forget to check between the toes, in the ears, in the lips and on the face and neck of the dog. If you find one tick, be sure to continue searching the rest of the body as there is a possibility that your pet has picked up more than one tick.
What are fleas?
A flea is a parasite which has a life cycle of approximately 21 days. The most common flea on dogs and cats is the Cat Flea.
How do I know if my pet has fleas?
If your pet has fleas, you may be able to see adult fleas in the coat or flea dirt (often more concentrated around the base of the tail). Scratching is the first sign that your pet may have fleas. Other signs of a developed infestation include problems such as flea allergy dermatitis, anaemia and the transmission of tapeworms.
What products do I use?
The adulticides recommended by The Ark Vet include Comfortis, Bravecto, Nexgard, Revolution and Capstar. They are products which are convenient and easy to use.
Program (lufenuron) is the insect growth regulators recommended by the Ark. Program can be given as an injection to cats, which protects for up to 6 months. This product kills flea eggs before they hatch (like birth control for fleas). As the adult fleas are not killed by these products, it may take a few weeks after starting on Program to see a significant drop in the flea population on your cat. An adulticide should always be used in conjunction with this product to control adult fleas. Make sure you treat all pets in the house, even if they’re not scratching as they may not be allergic to fleas but still carry them.
How do I control fleas?
For best results an adulticide and insect growth regulator should be used in combination, as it is highly unlikely for resistance to develop against two drugs at the same time. It is also effective as it targets all stages of the flea life cycle. This approach is called integrated flea control.
What about fleas in the environment?
You will need to eradicate fleas from the house in conjunction with treating your pet. Vacuum carpets, including under chairs and cushions of couches. Do not empty the vacuum bag into the garden or compost as it contains flea eggs. Treat carpets with fogger bombs, such as Fido’s Flea Bomb Fogger or sprays, such as Indorex.
Indorex is a spray that is great for targeting the environments in which fleas can hide and persist. This spray targets both adults and the immature flea stages and is a great tool for integrated flea control. This will need to be repeated in 2-3 weeks as pupae burrowed in carpet are now becoming fleas. When using a flea bomb it is a good idea to move the furniture from its original position for the duration of the bombing, ie couch, coffee table etc, as this is where they like to keep away from light sources. Wash your pet’s bedding once a week in a hot wash. Spray shaded, moist areas, such as the garage or under the balcony, which your pet accesses with Indorex every three weeks.
In Australia, the most common gut worms are tapeworm, roundworm, hookworm and whipworm. These parasites can be controlled by regularly using a de-wormer, such as Milbemax or Drontal. Puppies and kittens should be wormed every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old, then monthly until they are six months of age, and then every three months during their lifetime.
Heartworm is another internal parasite that can be dangerous and even deadly for your pet. They affect cats and dogs, but there are effective preventatives that can be used. Heartworm live in the lungs and heart of your pet, and feed on blood. We are able to test for heartworm using a simple blood test that can be run in-house at The Ark Vet.
How does my pet get worms?
A few of the common means of infection are:
- Contact with infected animals
- Drinking contaminated water
- Contact with infected animal faeces
- Swallowing fleas contaminated with infective tapeworm
- Eating meat (such as a possum) that is a carrying the parasite
How does my pet get heartworm?
Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes, so even our pets that are kept almost exclusively indoors can be affected. When a mosquito feeds on an animal infected with heartworm, it ingests microfilariae (heartworm offspring). When the microfilariae mature, the mosquito becomes a host, and will infect the next animals it feeds off.
How do I prevent heartworm?
For dogs, there is an injection that our vets can give, called Proheart. This Proheart injection protects your dog from heartworm for 12 months, and can be given when your pet comes in for their annual vaccinations. There are other preventatives, in the form of tablets, chews and spot-ons that can also be used for cats and dogs.