Happy New Year and welcome to the January edition of our ‘What does pet health look like?’ series. This month we will be discussing how to prevent parasites such as ticks, fleas, lice and mites; including how to look for them and what steps to take if you find them.
Ticks and fleas in pets can be a real problem for both you and your pet: luckily they can be prevented so it is important to carry our regular treatments and do regular checks in order to keep your pets healthy. Fleas especially, in these days of centrally-heated homes, can be a year-round potential threat.
There are many different treatments available from different sources, so choose the one that’s best for you and your pet – talk to your vet or pet care specialist for advice. Whichever treatment you choose, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully, and, for example, never use your dog’s treatment on your cat.
Many pets are also susceptible to a range of skin conditions, which can include infections and allergies, resulting in hair loss, poor coat, scaling (dandruff), itching (scratching, chewing or biting) and inflammation of the skin. If you notice a change in your pet’s skin or behaviour take them to the vet who will be able to identify the cause, help you get things better and provide any relevant medication.
We spoke to one dog owner, Philippa Turner, about how she personally helps to prevents ticks, fleas and skin conditions in her dog Obie and some helpful tips on what to do if they occur. Read Philippa and Obie’s story below.
How do you help keep Obie free of ticks and fleas?
We use regular monthly combined flea and tick drop, which helps to eliminate and prevent fleas, ticks and biting lice. We are part of a healthy pet club through our vets so we are given these as part of the monthly costs.
Has Obie ever picked up a tick or fleas?
Yes. We live in rural Wiltshire where most of his walks involve woodland and farming land so often a run through the ferns or through the long grass where the sheep graze means that in the summer he is particularly vulnerable to picking up ticks on his walk, especially being a long haired retriever! We have never had flea problems and all the dogs he has regular contact with are treated for fleas.
What course of action do you take following a walk in areas where Obie may be more susceptible?
After a walk we give him a good brush to try and remove any chances of ticks nestling in and attaching. If we do spot one that has taken hold I have a plastic tick remover, which helps to quickly and safely remove the tick (with legs) from his skin.
What should owners look out for to check they have not picked them up and catch these early on?
Giving your dog a good brush after a walk can help remove any ticks before they attach and running your hand along their body might reveal small lumps, which need investigating and could be a tick in the early or later stages of feasting. If your dog is continually itching and begins to develop skin dermatitis this could be a sign of fleas.
Why is it important for you and other owners to make sure these parasites are prevented or detected early?
Ticks carry a number of diseases, which could affect the health of your dog and humans can also be affected by ticks. With fleas they cause unnecessary discomfort to your animal and can cause flea allergic dermatitis, again they can spread and live within your home if not treated and eliminated quickly.
More tips and tricks
Next month we will be looking at the importance of dental care for looking after your pet’s health.
The full ‘What does pet health look like?’ series will include a range of relevant topics throughout the year such as; responsible feeding, diet and exercise; grooming and dental care; vaccinations; and the importance of companionship.