Search Results for: fleas

March 27

Now About Those Fleas…

What are they?

The Oxford Dictionaries website1 defines a flea as “A small wingless jumping insect that feeds on the blood of mammals and birds. It sometimes transmits diseases thorough its bite, including plague and myxomatosis.”

Fleas are small, usually dark brown insects. Their bodies are flat and wingless. They have three legs but the strength of the two hind legs are sufficient enough to allow them to leap up to 200 times the length of their own bodies. They are parasites that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals.

Fleas develop in the following sequence: egg > larva > pupa > adult. The span of their lifetime can last up to 2 years if the conditions of the surrounding environment are right. A female flea can produce thousands of eggs during her lifetime.

 Here’s how it works:
  1. The tapeworm larva attaches itself to the flea.
  2. The pet ingests the flea hosting the tapeworm larvae during the normal course of self grooming.
  3. The now ingested larvae will grow & develop into a tapeworm.
  4. As this takes place inside the pet’s stomach, the pet now has tapeworms.

 

CDC website-C_felis_PADIL2

Figure: The cat flea, C. felis. Image courtesy of Parasite and Diseases Image Library, Australia

 

What dangers do they pose?

Flea bites cause your dog to itch & due to his discomfort, he will need to scratch for relief. Excessive scratching may lead to hair loss, scabs & hot spots. It also can advance to inflamed areas on his skin. If left untreated these inflamed areas may grow larger & possibly become infected. Some animals are extremely allergic to flea bites. In this case the above conditions will accelerate quickly.

Large flea infestations can lead to anemia in some pets. Severe anemia can lead to death. Since the flea has the ability to ingest 15 times their weight in blood2 with high infestation death is a very real possibility. Fleas are not only carriers of an assortment of diseases but are host to the tapeworm larvae.

How to get rid of them?

To get rid of these pests start with the dog because this is where the fleas are feeding & breeding. There are numerous products available to aid in flea removal. Some are more effective than others & some are safer than others. Available over the counter treatments for your pet are flea collars, medicated flea shampoos, flea dips, flea powders, sprays & topical spot-on treatments.

Your vet can also prescribe oral treatments but these medications are to prevent the flea egg from hatching. They are not for flea prevention or termination. In cases of pets with severe flea allergies, antibiotics may need to be prescribed. Speak to your vet to voice any concerns and don’t hesitate to research the internet on your own. Just apply a little common sense to the advice you find.

Getting rid of the fleas on your pet is a start, but you must also eliminate the pests in the surrounding environment. Otherwise the cycle of flea infestation will continue. Bedding should be washed in hot water; carpets should be vacuumed, shampooed & possibly treated. You also might want to set off foggers. All pets in the household should be treated. Remember medications & treatments are usually species specific and should be used as such. There are those for dogs and others designated for cats. The ASPCA recommends “Treat your yard as thoroughly as your house.”  They suggest you use insecticide or nematodes focusing on the shady areas fleas prefer. (To learn more on nematodes click here.) It’s also helpful to keep your yard free of leaves and other debris that can provide a favorable habitat for the fleas and their larvae.

Click here to read about our experience with fleas.

1Definition of Flea in English:.” Flea: Definition of Flea in Oxford Dictionary (American English) (US). N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015<http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/flea?q=fleas>.
2“PetMD.” 10 Facts about Fleas. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <http://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/evr_multi_10facts_about_fleas>.
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February 10

My Dog Has Fleas

No. He doesn’t. At least, I’ve yet to find one on him. However I’ve read that just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there. I regularly check Jakey for signs of fleas. Besides searching for the actual flea, I look for what the fleas tend leave behind, flea excrement and the eggs. If you don’t know what you are looking for, flea excrement appears as  little black flecks resembling plain old yard dirt; the eggs look like dander flakes. The most likely spots on the pet to find them are where hair is thinnest, behind the ears and at the base of the tail. I’ve read that fleas prefer hanging out at the root of the hairs, so you want to make sure you look closely there.

I have a giant fear for the teeny little monsters. I fear my dog getting them, my cats getting them, my home becoming infested with them. Everyone has read or heard about the nightmare of flea removal after an infestation. No one in their right mind would want to deal with that.

Fleas generally aren’t too interested in humans, but it is possible for fleas to bite humans. I know a particular case, where a gentleman allowed his daughter to adopt a pet; the fleas came along for the ride. There’s good news and bad news to this story:

Good news – his home didn’t become infested.                                 Bad news – the new guests (fleas) seemed attracted to him, and enjoyed the partaking of his blood. He suffered many bites which resulted in normal red itchy bumps similar to many other bug bites. Fortunately he didn’t suffer severe *anaphylaxis as is possible in some people.

It may be hard to imagine, but one little flea can consume 15 times its weight in blood each day. This leaves our pets susceptible to anemia from the quantity of blood taken. Obviously the more fleas a pet has the more blood consumed. One flea can lay thousands of eggs in its lifetime. The course of a flea’s lifetime can be up to two years if their environment is compiled with the right set of conditions.

Fleas carry bacteria and are hosts to other parasites such as tapeworms. Your dog can get tapeworms by simply by ingesting a flea during the normal course of grooming himself. Commonly flea allergy dermatitis occurs which cause your pet to itch. He will scratch, bite and rub to ease the sometimes painful itch. Such behavior can cause the area to become inflamed, infected and increase to a sizable injury.

As with most any pet lover, fleas are one of the things I’m constantly watching for. They can cause plenty of havoc in your home and discomfort for pets. They are most dangerous to the weakest among pets, the elder pets, the babies and pets with other illnesses, which may have weakened their overall health.

 

*Information about flea caused anaphylaxis may be found at Healthline.com

October 29

Hives Part I

If you have looked around the Pug Chronicles site at all, you’ve probably noticed that we have had an ongoing battle with Jake’s itching. We’ve tried many different solutions:

  1. Brushed his coat, in an effort to remove loose (possibly) itchy hair
  2. Bathed him with a gentle flea shampoo, found no fleas in the water or on the towels
  3. Checked him for fleas, found none
  4. Combed him for fleas, found none
  5. Treated him topically for fleas, as a preventative; used both the expensive & less expensive brands
  6. Applied hydro-cortisone lotions & sprays
  7. Added coconut oil to his diet
  8. Applied coconut oil topically

Some seem to help, some helped for a while and others show no effect whatsoever. But Jake is our baby & we can’t stand even the thought that he might not be comfortable much less the knowledge that he is miserable. So the quest for a solution continues.

This is yet another installment describing the latest occurrence(s).

We began experiencing (yet again) more episodes of Jake itching. It started with a lick here and a scratch there. As it progressively worsened he began licking his feet almost constantly. Next thing we knew the poor little guy was continuously twisting and turning in a failing effort to scratch impossible (for him) to reach areas to relieve the itching. Since he couldn’t scratch his itches, he turned to us. At first it was just begging with those big brown eyes. But then it escalated to sharp little yips in a demand to be rubbed. Any and all attempts to give him relief were only temporary at best.

Alert pug
Pug on alert!

Finally one night I’m laying in bed racking my brain for what in the devil else could cause Jake’s miserable itching? Then it hit me. Allergies! The only thing I could think of was the possibility that he may have an allergy to something. With a possible solution on the horizon I went to sleep deciding to mention it to my husband in the morning.

Next day (Thursday, July 2) starts off as usual. I get up first and begin my daily chores. A few hours later my husband (he works night shift) comes downstairs followed by Jake. No matter which of us is the last to rise Jake, our little sleepy-head is always the final body out of bed.
Eventually the two of them wind up sitting on the recliner in the living room. My husband notices bumps on Jake and calls me to check it out. I look, but darned if I can see anything. I’m not exactly sure what my husband is talking about, there is no redness or any other signs of anything that I can see. If there are bumps on him they are barely visible. It is normal for us to be alert to changes & worry if we notice anything unusual with Jake. However, Jake doesn’t seem to be behaving any differently. He’s still itching but not lethargic, his behavior seems normal. I’m not too worried as of yet. Still, I don’t doubt my husband’s concern. So after a little more time passes, I check again. I still don’t see any redness but now there are bumps all over Jake’s back. They are extremely noticeable now! They raise the skin and disturb the normally even lay of his fur. There are so many! I check for redness but still am unable see any. But my baby’s back is covered with what has to be hives!
Guess what? I go into panic mode. I know he’s having an allergic reaction to something. But what I don’t know is how bad the reaction can get or how fast and far it could escalate. That scares me to no end. Despite thinking our vet’s office, Johnson-McKee Animal Hospital isn’t open yet. I immediately call & am surprised when a real live person answers. I explain the situation and request an appointment with Jake’s regular vet, Dr. Melanie. Unfortunately Dr. Melanie is in surgery and won’t be able to see him until the afternoon. I have a choice:
  1. I can wait until afternoon to have Dr. Melanie see him,
  2. Another vet can see him in an hour.
I really like Dr. Melanie. But my worry for about Jake is greater than my fondness for Dr. Melanie. (Sorry, Dr. Melanie!) I opt to get him in as soon as possible. So another vet is my choice.
Within the hour we are on our way to the animal hospital. Arriving at the office, the rain is just pouring down, the parking lot is covered in about an inch of rain. I opened the back car door to get Jake out. He took one look at the water and dug his front paws in. He hates getting his feet wet. I told him to “Come,” and grabbed his harness giving him a gentle tug. He jumped out with that wee bit of encouragement & we raced for the door.
Sitting at the vet's office
Sitting at the vet’s office
In the past, Jake found going to the vet to be fun and exciting. First, is the car ride which Jake loves; he’s always excited to ride. And let’s not forget the office waiting area. Oh the smells of all the different people and animals! He would rush around sniffing every nook & cranny his flat little nose could reach. Now older, he’s much calmer. He still gets excited riding in the car but he behaves by staying in his car seat. He has even learned to “Wait,” until I tell him its “Okay,” to get out. His current behavior in the waiting room? Exemplary! He waits for me to sit down so he can hop up on my lap where he can safely observe the activity around us. I expected him to want on my lap so I requested paper towels to dry his feet when we entered. See… I’m not just another pretty face. 😉
Today, Dr. Elizabeth examines him, I explain the most recent itch problem up to and including the appearance of hives. She decides to put him on Prednisolone (1 a day for 5 days then 1 every other day there after) & Benadryl (twice a day).
After the vet visit, we go to PetSmart. The kitties are due for an application of flea medicine and Jake needs his nails trimmed. I always stay and watch while his nails are trimmed. You hear such horror stories about incidents happening to pets left in the care of others that I make it a rule to keep Jake within my sight at all times. I wouldn’t just drop my child somewhere to get their haircut. I’m not going to allow anyone to do anything to Jake without me there to make sure he’s treated exactly right. Another reason I stopped at PetSmart is I believe a reward is due for such excellent behavior from Jake during the ride and vet visit.
As soon as we returned home, I start him on his medicines and of course remove the tags from his new toy/reward. I’m fortunate that Jake is pretty easy to get pills into. Most of the time I can just hide it in his food. I do have to watch because once in a while, he finds the pill & spits it out. Medicine does little good lying on the floor. Thankfully by that night, his itching was noticeably less, and the hives were gone. He seemed a bit sleepier but Dr. Elizabeth had warned me of possible side effects of the medicines. She said increased thirstiness, hunger and tiredness were a possibility.
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The continuing saga of “Hives Part II” will be posted tomorrow
July 24

I Didn’t Know That!

Interesting fact:
Did you know your dog could get the Plague? Yes, that’s the one. Bubonic Plague is one of the diseases carried by fleas. That particular disease is rare in humans these days but pets can still become infected. Not only can they become ill but they can still die from it.