Fleas and Ticks
The most common external parasites in dogs and cats are fleas and ticks.
Below you find information about these troublemakers as well as instructions to treat infection and to prevent one.
Fleas are parasites (insects) which live on our pets and provide much inconvenience for animals and humans. The itching is caused in particular by the female fleas, who require a blood meal before they lay eggs. The bites cause irritation and inflammation, and may cause allergic reactions to some people and animals and are associated with very severe itching (see flea allergy).
To fight the fleas, it is good to know something about the life of a flea.
The life cycle of the flea consists of four stages:
- The adult flea: On our pets (including dogs) mainly we see ‘catfleas’. The flea lives almost permanently on dogs and cats and lays approximately 2000 eggs in 100 days. You can find the fleas mostly on the abdomen and the back of the animal where they cause itching. Fleas produce droppings which are found as small black grains in the coat. Fleas are not resistant to low temperatures and low humidity.
- The eggs: Almost all of the flea eggs fall from the animal and end up right where the animal lies. This means that above all the resting places of the animal (basket, bench, (car) seats and carpet) are the breeding grounds of new fleas. Also outside into the garden often harbours lots of eggs and larvae! Hatching of the eggs can be prevented by giving 1 x per month Frontline Combo to the animal.
- The larvae: are 3 mm long, live on the ground in the vicinity of the eggs and feed on the faeces from the flees and other organic waste. Larvae are shy to light and crawl actively away in the carpet, in cracks or crevices (wooden floors!) or (outside) under leaves. They are not resistant to drought and low temperatures. Nowadays they are easy to determinate with modern products. This used to be much harder.
- The pupal stage: During this stage the young flea is surrounded by a thick impermeable wall, making it well protected against external influences, such as pesticides (except Indorex). The fleas remain vital in this stage for about 150 days (5 months!). The release of the pupate is stimulated by vibrations on the floor. Therefore, when returning home from vacation, humans and animals are often pounced upon by an army of newly hatched fleas. Flea pupae can only be totally eradicated by repetitive vacuuming and Indorex®.
For stubborn flea problems we have to fight fleas on three fronts simultaneously and repeatedly:
- Combating adult fleas by treating all animals in the house.
- Combating the eggs.
- Combating larvae and pupae in the environment of the pet.
Only in this way can we achieve the desired effect!
This means that we have to use the following means repeatedly and at the same time.
- Your dog and cat: pesticides placed on the skin through pipettes or spray. Please note that some products containing permethrin which works very well for dogs but is unfortunately very toxic to cats. Don’t mix products for dogs and cats! New are the tablets that are used with great success in the flea and tick prevention and control. The vet can advise which products are the most suitable for your pet and situation. Repeated vacuuming (at least daily), and disposing the dustbag outside, not in the bin inside!
- At home: spray the resting places of your animal and baskets with Fleegard® to kill larvae, pupae and eggs.
- In the garden: Where possible clean up shady shelters outside from larvae. This consists of removing piles of leaves and branches etc.. Be aware of other dogs and cats, or stray animals, they can also re-contaminate the environment (garden) including the favorite lounging place of your animal. In this respect, also all fields, parks and dog toilets are also suspected: the soil can be significantly infected with larvae and eggs! Many dogs shake after pooping. The best way to scatter around flea eggs!
Brewer’s yeast and garlic tablets are of no value. In larger breeds, fleacollars have a little effect, but if they contain the correct pesticide they work well against ticks.
Ticks are tiny blood-sucking creatures (not insects), that end up on your dog or cat when it passes through tall grass or bushes. The tick digs itself into the skin of the animal and begins to suck blood. After some time (a few days) the tick is full and drops of its own accord from the animal. As long as the tick is stuck, diseases can be transmitted. Therefore, is it important to remove a tick soon after discovering it. This is not an emergency, but don’t wait days to remove it.
The best known disease that is transmitted by ticks in the Netherlands is Lyme disease (borreliosis). Other diseases that are transmitted by ticks are babesiosis and ehrlichiosis. So, preventing tick bites is important. For this there are a number of good products available that can kill the tick before they can attach themselves to the skin. Your veterinarian can advise you in the selection of a good products.
If you find a tick on your dog or cat, it is important to remove it in its entirety. For this you can use special tick tweezers. Do not use alcohol and make sure that the head of the tick is not left on the skin. Should this happen, then there is no other choice but to visit the vet. He is able to remove the embedded head from the skin.