Fleas, Ticks and Mange
The Importance of Prevention
Preventing flea and tick bites
is the only way to reduce exposure to the disease they carry. Bark and Bliss carries a full array of effective preventatives for both dogs and cats.
Damage to the Skin Barrier
Mange, fleas and ticks all damage the skin barrier which results in water loss and can make your pet more susceptible to infection, and allergic skin disease. In addition, they are irritating, cause itching and pain, and often result in a weakened
bond between the pet and owner.
Are Topical Products or Flea Collars for Dogs Effective?
In this environment they are
not effective. Topical treatments, though often less expensive, are a poor choice here as they are very ineffective against our
population of external parasites and are often toxic to the pet. Flea collars are similar, they only affect the parasites that touch the collar and are also frequently toxic to the pet.
Little Bugs – Big Problem
External parasites are extremely prevalent in the Turks and Caicos due to our hot, humid weather. Because of this, fleas and ticks do not die or hibernate and are active year-round. Fleas and ticks transmit several diseases that can be very debilitating and over time can even kill a dog or cat if left undetected and untreated.
Tick and Flea Borne Disease
There are multiple diseases caused by Tick bites that we commonly see in patients on this island. Ehrlichia, Anaplasma and Babesia are the 3 most common. These diseases can cause blood loss anemia, loss of ability to clot blood, joint pain, kidney disease and generalized lethargy, fever and poor appetite. The disease occurs secondary to bacteria that the tick has in its system, which is transmitted into the pet when they start feeding on them. These diseases can remain dormant within the pet’s system for weeks, months and even years until the immune system recognizes the issue. Fleas, much like ticks, take a blood meal from their host. In puppies, this can be life threatening as they have limited blood supply in general and can get severely anemic in a short period of time. In adult animals, it can also cause anemia due to the sheer number of fleas, but also causes some more severe illness such as Bartonella, Mycoplasma, Haemoplasma and tapeworm infections.
The Role of Tapeworms
Tapeworms utilize fleas as hosts, which means when a pet ingests a flea, which happens as they clean themselves or eat another animal infested with fleas, they then infect themselves with tapeworms. Tapeworms are an intestinal parasite that utilizes the hosts nutrition to survive, grow and breed. Leading to weight loss, poor haircoat, reduced
gastrointestinal movement and function, and poor condition of the pet overtime.
Demodex mange is a mite that is very common, particularly in bully breeds. All dogs have it, but some breeds have a misfunction of their immune system that is inherited, leading to a lack of control of the mange mite. This poor control leads to overgrowth of the mites, and because they live in the hair follicles causes hair loss. It is common to see bully breeds that have poor hair growth, because they came from parents that also had the genetic defect of their immune system. Ideally, dogs that have a history of mange, should not be bred for this reason.
Diagnosis of External Parasite Disease
For patients with suspected tick, flea or mange borne disease there are various tests that we utilize at Bark and Bliss. There is a simple blood test for tick borne disease, that can be combined with a heartworm test that allows us to identify antibody response to Ehrlichia, Anaplasma and Lyme Disease. A blood smear examined under a microscope can identify Babesia and flea borne diseases. Mange is often diagnosed with a skin scraping, but given its prevalence in our population of pets it is often diagnosed based on breed, age and hair loss pattern.
Treatments and Prevention
Treatment of tick-borne disease requires, at a minimum, the use of antibiotics for at least a month and can be quite costly. Treatment of Mange is often life long and requires good nutrition, a monthly treatment and sometimes medicated baths. Flea borne disease may require significant medication, testing and blood products, as well as intestinal parasite deworming. Prevention with oral products for dogs and topical treatments for cats is the most cost effective and safest way to prevent disease these diseases.
- Firstly, when your dog gets worked up give them a verbal cue that works to both catch their attention and provides them with something to do. That cue can be “sit,” “down,” or even “relax.” You just want to make sure you can use it consistently.
- Secondly, use the word until your dog performs the behavior that you want, such as lying down, sitting at your feet, or even just stopping what they are doing and looking at you. You may have to show them what to do the first few times until they get the hang of it.