Love Dogs... Love Nature

Spring into action...Parasites and Pollen

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Love your pet… love your vet

April 2010

Spring into Action...Parasites and pollen problems

The warmer months are peak season for parasites and two of the most annoying are fleas and ticks!

Fleas need little introduction to most pet owners!  Adult fleas are 2-3mm in length and can be seen without magnification.  These tiny wingless insects survive by feeding on your pet’s blood, as well as causing a multitude of problems including intense skin irritation, rashes, infection, hair loss and even anaemia and weakness.  Fleas also play a major role in transmitting tapeworms in dogs.

Adult female fleas can lay in excess of 50 eggs per day meaning even a brief infestation can result in thousands of eggs being produced.  These fall off your pet and are deposited around your home in carpets and bedding where they can lie dormant for up to a year or more before developing into adult fleas.

Ticks tend to be a problem in the warmer months and commonly live in areas of heath land, moorland and woodland waiting to attach themselves to passing animals.

Ticks feed on your pet’s blood, often for several days and can cause problems in two ways ­ firstly they can cause a tissue reaction at their site of attachment and secondly they can transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease and Babesiosis.  Pet owners should ensure year round treatment of fleas and ticks.

Unfortunately, the warmer weather can also signal the start of the allergy season… pets can suffer too.

What are the signs? Whilst pets aren’t likely to sneeze when confronted with a garden full of flowers, they can suffer from skin irritation.  Common signs of allergy include sore red itchy skin, hair loss and inflamed ears or feet.

Can allergies be cured?  Unfortunately not, but they can be well managed by your vet.  A simple blood test can reveal what your pet’s immune system is reacting to ­ it could be a tree, weed, flower pollen or combination of several allergens.  The root cause of the problem is then tackled; whether that means changing your exercise route to avoid certain types of trees or keeping the lawn mown.

Another option is desensitisation vaccines which work by injecting a weakened diluted allergen under the skin so that the immune system becomes accustomed to it.  If your pet is prone to itching or losing hair it could be an allergy.

Chris Devlin is a vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen.  For more information visit