Heartworm, Fleas and Ticks
Heartworms are found in the heart and main vessels to the lungs of infected dogs and are up to thirty cm long. Infected dogs suffer from heart failure and death unless specifically treated. In addition infected animals suffer permanent damage to their cardiovascular system.
Australia's climate is perfect for the heartworm life cycle to reach completion. Heartworms are spread by mosquitos that bite infected animals and ingest tiny juvenile heartworms in their meal of blood.
All dogs are at risk of heartworm infection. Prevention can be given in the form of daily or monthly tablets. There is also an injection that can be given annually.
Please note, that some Border Collies are Ivermectin sensitive and many heartworm preventatives contain Ivermectin (which it is best to avoid). Please speak to your vet about the best method of control for your circumstances
Flea infestations are one of the most annoying problems faced by you and your pet. It only takes a few fleas to start an infestation. Adult fleas can survive and breed only if they can find an animal to feed upon. Female fleas lay forty to fifty eggs per day, which drop off your pet and land around your home, where they can remain dormant for as long as six months. With the right temperature and humidity, the lifecycle can be as short as three weeks.
To break the flea cycle adult fleas have to be killed before they lay eggs and protect against reinfestation by emerging adult fleas.
There are numerous products available for flea control. These include: washes, powders, collars, topical applications and oral medications. Often products will control both ticks and fleas.
We have never found a single flea on our pets or in our home. As we live in a high paralysis tick infestation zone, we use an oral medication for both ticks and fleas.
The paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus)is mainly found in the bush and coastal areas of coastal areas of Eastern Australia. They may be small, but they're prolific. The female paralysis tick lays up to three thousand eggs. After hatching, the larvae climb onto nearby vegetation and look for their first hosts. Normally, this would be a bandicoot or possum, which become immune to the poison. It can live on most wildlife without harming them. It is lethal to dogs and some cats.
Once they have engorged the requisite amount of blood, the larvae drop to the ground, moult and turn into nymphs. Each nymph will then attach itself to a second host, do the blood-engorging thing again, hit the deck, moult to become an adult tick and find yet another host. After getting her fill of blood - often more than one hundred times her own weight - the female paralysis tick is ready to abandon her final host and lay her eggs...to start the whole cycle all over again.
After attaching, the tick feeds on the host’s blood, injecting small amounts of saliva into the dog in the process. The tick’s saliva contains a substance that causes the connection between the nerves and the muscles throughout the body in the dog to become disrupted. This causes weakness and eventually paralysis. This is not just limited to the muscles involved in standing and walking, but also those inside such as those involved breathing and in swallowing. This can cause breathing problems and pneumonia.
As a very rough general rule, for a tick to cause a dog or cat a problem it either has to be quite large (greater than four mm long) or be attached for at least four days. However there can be marked variation in the potency of the tick and also the individual dog's susceptibility to tick paralysis, which may also vary from season to season.
Paralysis ticks can be identified by their grey body and legs close to the head. Their legs are the best way to distinguishes them from other ticks. Paralysis ticks have one pair of brown legs closest to their head, then two pairs of white legs and then one pair of brown legs closest to the body.
Remember, that once your dog is showing signs of paralysis tick infestation, treatment is possible, expensive and not always successful. Prevention is best.
Again, there are numerous products available on the market for tick control. These include washes, powders, collars, topical applications and oral medications.
We remove three or four paralysis ticks (plus other types) from our cats most days in spring and summer. They are still around in winter too. We are fortunate that our cats are immune to them.
Our vet recommended Nexguard for our situation. We have five dams, a spring, a permanent creek and a seasonal creek on our property. As our dogs swim very frequently (even in winter) Nexguard is the most suitable product for our situation. We administer Nexguard orally each month (on the same day our horse's hooves are trimmed), so our puppies are exposed to it during gestation and lactation, with no negative consequences to date. Please note, that we have no affiliation with Nexguard, it is just the best product for our circumstances.
We recommend that you discuss your tick prevention requirements with your vet.