NOVEMBER 2006

HI THERE,

This month Charles provided us with a short input regarding ticks and fleas:

TICK AND FLEA CONTROL IN DOGS

Summer, with the increase in temperature and humidity, is for most pet owners the time to re-instate their dog's tick and flea program. But stopping the tick and flea program in winter is a very dangerous practice. Winter temperatures are not low enough to control tick and flea numbers.

I have treated many dogs for Babesia (tick bite fever) in winter, because the owners thought that they did not need to protect their dogs from ticks in winter. We keep our houses warm during winter; this is a perfect environment for fleas to survive. As soon as the temperatures and the relative humidity increase in the beginning of summer the fleas emerge from their pupae and re-infest your dogs. Flea infestation can also occur in winter. Maintaining a tick and flea control program throughout the year will prevent this.

Many dog owners live under the misconception that tick bit fever is a minor disease that is not a problem in dogs and that it is important for the dog to get infected with Babesia so that the dog can build up immunity to the parasite that causes Babesiosis. This is very dangerous, as dogs do not easily build up immunity to Babesiosis and usually die before the immune system can mount a response to the parasite or the dog will need very intensive treatment to recover. Even worse, the dog's immune system often over-reacts to the infection and the dog is killed, not by the parasite, but by the body's reaction to the parasite. Therefore, tick bite fever is a serious disease that should not be taken lightly. The only way to prevent tick bite fever is to prevent ticks from biting your dog.

The most common flea that infests dogs is the cat flea that can also infest cats, birds, reptiles and rodents. The adult fleas that you see crawling on your dog is only 5% of the total flea population in the pet's environment. Most of the fleas in your house are in the form of eggs, larvae and pupae. This means that if your dog has a flea problem, just treating your pet with a flea preparation to kill the adult fleas will not

solve the problem. To get a flea infestation under control requires an integrated approach of treating the pet and the environment.

Solving a flea problem involves treating the environment that your pet lives in as well as treating the animal. To treat the environment you need to completely vacuum clean the environment of the pet, taking special care in vacuuming under all furniture and carpets and along all the skirting. This is where the eggs, larvae and pupae of the fleas are found. The vacuum cleaner bag must be thrown away to prevent the fleas hatching in the bag from re-infesting the pet’s environment. After vacuuming the house you need to use foggers to kill any larvae that have survived the vacuuming. Your dog also needs to be treated with a flea remedy to kill adult fleas.

Before going out to buy tick and flea preparations, speak to your vet or the staff at your local clinic to find out what is required to implement a tick and flea control program and what are the best products to buy for controlling ticks and fleas. It is very important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on the dose and the frequency of use of any tick or flea product that you use. The main reason for tick and flea programs failing is owners not following the manufacturer’s recommendation for dose and frequency of use, or not treating all the cats and dogs in the household. Rather spend extra money on implementing an effective program with the help of slightly more expensive, but effective products from your vet, than loose your dog to Babesiosis or have a dog suffering from the effects of a flea infestation.

Dr Charles Gilfillan, BSc (Agric) BVSc

 

NOTICE:

Our club will have its annual fun day on Saturday, 25 November 2006, starting at 09:00.

As usual there will be lots of fun for owners and dogs alike, with lovely prizes to be won. There will be a number of items to participate in, and everybody (puppies included) can participate in at least four or five categories. Programs will soon be available. The whole family is invited.

After the "competition" events, we will again have a bring and braai. Please bring your own chairs, food and drinks, and enjoy the day with us.