Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pet Watch

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pet Watch

Article excerpt

Unwelcome visitors on your pet

Pets can pick up skin parasites in their everyday life and the best way to prevent an infestation is to invest in all-year-round treatment for your pet and your house.

Fleas are small parasites that bite their host (your pet) in order to feed on their blood. The area that has been bitten becomes inflamed and causes irritation; that is why infected pets will scratch themselves. In severe cases, and in untreated young animals, this can lead to anaemia as the fleas take so much blood.

Check for fleas by placing a damp piece of white paper under the animal and brushing the coat. If tiny black specks fall out which turn dark red on contact with the paper, this is flea dirt.

Getting rid of the fleas from the animal's body is only part of the procedure ( everything the dog or cat has come into contact with should be treated or re-infestation will occur.

However, the most common problem is flea-bite hypersensitivity. The pet reacts to one of the 15 protein fractions in the flea's saliva "injected" into the skin when the flea is feeding. This reaction is the cause of most of the itching with a flea infestation, causing nibbling and self-trauma, and leading to a "hot spot".

There are a number of treatments, including topical ("spot-on") insecticides, sprays, powders, special collars, tablets and liquids. Your vet will advise you upon the best treatment method appropriate for the pet's age, health status, species etc.

It is important to treat your pet and your home thoroughly as the fleas live on pets only for a short time and spend the rest of their time breeding in your home. Effective flea control can only be achieved through the correct treatment of the indoor environment as well as the pet.

Treat the whole house with a long-acting insecticide recommended by the vet and use it in other areas where the pet spends time, including outhouses, the car and sheds, but particularly where it sleeps. …

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