Adult fleas on pets comprise approximately 5% of the flea population, leaving 95% as the immature stages that can live and develop in the environment of your home. Fleas are wingless insects with a flat, hard body and 3 pairs of legs. The 3rd pair of legs are longer, thus enabling it to jump great distances. Fleas survive on the blood meals obtained from biting our pets. Signs that your pet may be infected with fleas include :
- itching and chewing
- fleas visible in the coat
- seeing the flea “dirt” on your pet’s skin
Pets become infected through exposure to fleas in the environment or other animals carrying adult fleas. The adult flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day! This means that an infestation can develop very quickly! Treatment of flea infestations are important not only for the comfort of your pet, but also because fleas can bite humans. Having fleas can also contribute to intestinal parasitism. When your pet grooms itself and accidentally ingests fleas, the flea can infect the pet with tapeworms. This parasite, when passed in the feces, has the appearance of grains of rice. These can also appear on the hair around the anus.
Ticks carry many diseases and are usually found in wooded or marshy areas. When walking through these areas your pet brushes against the brush or grass, and the tick transfers onto your pet. The tick then burrows its head under the skin to take a blood meal. They are most likely found on areas of our pets that are hard to groom such as head, neck and legs and especially between the toes. Lyme Disease is the most concerning disease carried by ticks in this part of Ontario. Historically, the ticks carrying this disease were restricted to certain areas of the province, most notably Long Point, but it has become more widespread in recent years. There are several products are available for tick prevention. There is also a vaccine available that will aid in the prevention of this disease.
These mites primarily live within the external canal of the ear of our pets. The ear mite causes inflammation and severe itching and redness in the ears. Commonly, large volumes of dark crusted debris is found in the ear canal if the mites are present. Diagnosis of these mites is done microscopically using a swab taken from the affected ear. These mites are highly contagious, and are transferred between pets through direct contact. They can live in our pets and their environment for long periods of time. Mites are often seen in kittens and puppies due to their close contact. There are several products are available to treat and prevent these mites.