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Fleas & Ticks

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Fleas

Fleas are small, wingless, blood-feeding insects. There are about 2500 different species of fleas, most of them renowned jumpers.

The cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis felis) accounts for more than 90% of all flea infections found on domestic dogs and cats in northern Europe and America. There are many other species of fleas worldwide that infect pets.

Flea allergy dermatitis, an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva is one of the most common causes of skin disease in dogs and cats. Flea allergy dermatitis causes severe itching that leads to chewing, compulsive biting, licking, and scratching. Flea allergy dermatitis isn’t necessarily caused by an infestation; sensitive pets may react to a single fleabite.

Flea infestations on small or weak pets can cause life-threatening anaemia (iron-deficiency anaemia, decreased red blood cells circulating through the blood, which means a decreased oxygen level in the blood).

While grooming, cats ingest about 50% of the fleas on their body. If the fleas carry pathogens, the cat may become diseased.

Fleas have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Only adults live on pets. The eggs, larvae, and pupae live in carpets and on blankets, so it is important to treat the pet's environment in cases of infestation.

Ticks

Ticks are eight-legged, blood-feeding ectoparasites that are closely related to spiders, scorpions, and mites and live on mammals and birds. There are about 800 different species of ticks.

Ticks are relatively large (compared to fleas and mites), with soft rounded bodies. Most ticks attach to their host and feed for as long as 12 to 24 hours before they fall off. Young ticks (nymphs) may feed on one host, drop off, and then feed on a different host as adults. Most ticks spend about 10% of their lifetime attached to their hosts. Individual tick bites can cause local reactions, including skin damage, irritation, inflammation, and hypersensitivity. A large number of tick bites can cause anaemia. Some ticks secrete toxic saliva that can cause paralysis. All ticks can carry and transmit disease.

Lyme disease (lyme borreliosis) is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and is spread by the deer tick. It is one of the most common tick-transmitted veterinary diseases in the world. Lyme disease can affect both cats and dogs. Its most common clinical symptoms are arthritis, lameness, anorexia, and depression. It can also cause cardiac, neurological, and kidney disease.

Getting rid of them

There are a variety of different products on the market which can be used to treat/prevent fleas and ticks. For advice and recommendations please contact the practice to discuss your pets individual requirements.

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