THE HOWLER - Treating fleas, ticks on your companion animals

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What are fleas?

Fleas are small insects about 1-2 mm in length. 

Adult fleas live in the coat and bedding of dogs, cats and other animals and feed on their blood. 

Fleas have irritating bites. They can also carry tapeworm, cause flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), hair loss (due to scratching), and secondary skin irritations. In large numbers, fleas can cause anaemia from blood loss, especially in puppies and kittens where it can be life threatening. 

Close examination of your dog/cat may reveal these small, black insects moving rapidly through your animal’s coat.

What are ticks? 

Ticks are small, light grey, rounded insects which feed from the blood of animals. They vary in size and when engorged, can reach the size of a pea.  

They can be found anywhere on the dog’s body but are most frequently found on the ears, face or abdomen where hair cover is relatively thin. 

Ticks are responsible for transmitting many diseases in dogs; Lyme disease or Borreliosis is an illness transmitted by ticks that can affect humans, dogs and cats. 

The disease is appearing more often, and in more locations, therefore every dog owner should know and be able to recognise its symptoms:

-          painful or stiff muscles and joints

-          tiredness

-          fever

-          lack of appetite

-          (sometimes) sudden collapse

Samoa has a 12 month flea and tick season due to the year-round hot and humid weather. 

If your animal companion is frequently scratching, chances are it has fleas and/or ticks.  Even a single flea bite can cause a dog to become nervous or agitated and scratch excessively for several days. 

In severe infestations, it’s easy to spot fleas jumping and moving on and off your dog’s body. In less obvious situations, you may notice that your animal is restless and is scratching, licking or chewing more than normal on certain areas of it’s body. 

Shaking the head often and scratching at the ears is another indication of a possible flea infestation in your dog.

A single flea can bite your dog hundreds of times per day. 

In a short time, even a mild infestation can have serious consequences, and left untreated, chronic flea/tick infestations makes your dog miserable.

All experts agree that the best way to be flea-free is to prevent infestations in the first place. 

Prevention is very important when dealing with fleas and ticks. Nobody wants fleas and ticks in their home! 

Additional things you could do to help keep the number of fleas and ticks low:

- Treat your pets monthly with a veterinarian recommended flea repellent. 

- Remove leaves and clearing tall grass from the garden areas. 

- Bathe your pet with soapy water regularly.

- Brush your pet’s fur with a thin tooth comb and dip the comb in soapy water after each stroke to drown the flea.  

- Rubbing coconut oil over your animals coat may also help.

- Adding brewer’s yeast and garlic to your dog’s food may also help to repel fleas.

- Regularly use a homemade flea remedy, such as a lemon spray: cut a lemon into 4 sections (including the peel) and place in a jug/bowl. Pour boiling water over the lemon wedges, and leave overnight. The next morning, pour the lemon water into a clean spray bottle and spray your dog’s coat with it. Make sure to get behind your dog’s ears, all around his head, but not near the eyes, under the armpits, and around the base of the tail.

Whichever methods you choose to use, do not ignore fleas and ticks, they make your animal miserable and will likely infest your home as well.

Contact the Animal Protection Society of Samoa at 22403 if you suspect your animal companion has fleas or ticks.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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