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Columns : The Pet Pages - Kim Aranha Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Fleas 'n Ticks and all that !
By Kim Aranha
Feb 12, 2008 - 6:19:12 PM

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As the warmer weather comes our way and the rainy season moves in, we need to be especially vigilant for those nasty, pesky, and fruitful fleas and ticks and other parasitic insects that like to plague our pets.

As reported in a previous article by Dr, Grant; ticks, in particular, can carry various types of very difficult to cure and debilitating diseases. Just the tick on his own can carry

Ehrlichiosis (the most common in The Bahamas), Babesiosis, Bartonellosis, Lyme's Disease and Anaplasmosis. All those diseases are difficult to control and cure. It has only been in recent years that we have known about some of them and veterinary medicine is working overtime to find a cure and preventative measure against them.

I remember years ago owning a dog who had frequent nose bleeds and nobody could diagnose the problem. We used to joke that he was like me growing up, as I had frequent nose bleeds. Friendly, no doubt, had Ehrlichiosis, which went untreated for years as he finally went to doggie paradise at the ripe old age of 15. Lucky, a more recent dog of mine, was plagued with the same condition, we flew him to Miami, and had him in an excellent facility, regrettably, he passed away in the Animal Clinic, and nobody knew what had been wrong with him. Now days, thank goodness, there is a very simple blood test that can let us know if our pets have one of these conditions and we can then fight it aggressively with antibiotics.

Fleas are extremely prolific and a female tick can lay hundreds of eggs on your cat or dog in a very short period of time thus ensuring that your pet will be infested by generations of ticks to come unless you do something about it as quickly as possible. One single flea can bite your pet 400 times during the course of one day, during that same day, the flea can consume more than its body weight of your pet's blood. Talk about being devoted to ones work!

Of course, the best way to avoid these unpleasant diseases is to implement measures to inhibit the animals catching them in the very first place. The battle against fleas and ticks can be a thankless task and, at times, I know, that I for one have often felt that no matter what I do these small and rather revolting creatures have the upper hand. There are countless dips, shampoos, collars, drops, yard sprays, room sprays, ECT…. That you can buy, the cost of these products is exorbitant and at the end of the day your pockets are empty and your dogs and cats still carry a host of unwelcome guests about their person.

The best system I have found is the Frontline drops between the shoulder blades every three weeks. Sometimes I hear about different natural cures, for months I tried feeding my dogs whole cloves of garlic because, supposedly, the ticks did not like the smell…well, Bahamian ticks had no problem with the smell of garli! If any of my readers know of any innovative natural ways of keeping fleas and ticks off pets, I would love you to share them with me.

A word of warning, if you ever have your yard sprayed. Please be extremely cautious and DO NOT let your pets walk around the yard or lie outside until the prescribed time, plus a couple of hours. Many years ago our beautiful Bull Mastiff, Merlyn, did just that, and she became extremely ill, in fact, we nearly lost her. Always err on the side of caution, and add a couple more hours than they tell you. It is truly better to be safe than sorry in this case.  

One of the very worst sights is when you see a big, fat, blood filled, grey, female tick slowly climbing up your wall! Ugh, it is simply disgusting! Believe me, in spite of all my efforts, I have had this problem, more than once. Once you have disposed of the revolting creature; you ask yourself, where was she going? Does she have a nursery of small ticks lurking behind a picture somewhere just waiting to be big enough to climb down and take up residence on your pet?

Mosquitoes are also responsible for transmitting a very unpleasant and deadly desease: Heartworm. I quote directly from http://www.canismajor.com/dog/hartworm.html )   -     “Parasites go through several life stages before emergence as adults and often need at least two hosts to complete the cycle. In heartworms, a mosquito serves as the intermediate host for the larval stage of the worm, also known as the microfilariae. The mosquito ingests the larva when it bites an infected dog and deposits its cargo in an uninfected dog when seeking another blood meal. The microfilariae burrow into the dog and undergo several changes to reach adult form, then travel to the right side of the heart through a vein and await the opportunity to reproduce. Adult heartworms can reach 12 inches in length and can remain in the dog’s heart for several years.”

Fortunately modern veterinary medicine has evolved in the past 20 years and any owner who cares to, can, protect their dog by giving them a monthly dose of Heartworm preventative medicine. I use the chewable Heart Guard brand and my dogs love the flavour and consider it a treat. The medication comes in various weight sizes so that you can ensure that you pet gets the correct dosage depending on their size. Thanks to modern medicine, provided you are a responsible pet owner, and put your pet on medication as soon as your Vet tells you to, you should not have to worry about heartworm.

The big worry today is the tick – borne desease, as spring and summer fast approach, you need to plan your battle, talk to your Vet and start using the necessary preventative measures. Your pet will thank you and you will rest much more easily.


About the author: Kim Aranha grew up in the Berry Islands with her first dog, a beloved potcake named “Friendly” (who was anything but!).  First educated at home, and then in boarding school in Switzerland, Kim moved to Rome, Italy in 1974 to pursue a career in the dramatic arts and ended up working as an interpreter.  She moved back to The Bahamas in 1980, and now lives in Nassau with her husband Paul, and their two teenaged sons.  Kim has 4 dogs, 5 fish (1 Beta, 4 Goldfish), 10 turtles (6 babies, 4 adolescents), 1 Asian box turtle and 4 Budgerigars. Her idea of relaxing is being home to take care of all her pets. Kim is President of the board of the Bahamas Humane Society. Kim can be contacted at kimvba@coralwave.com


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