Mosquitoes, flies, ticks and fleas . . . Print E-mail
News - Rubrieke
Wednesday, 26 February 2020 10:17
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Dr Liesel van der Merwe is a small animal medicine specialist. Send her your questions: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Dr Liesel van der Merwe

The rain over the last few months has been wonderful for the garden, but with it came mosquitoes and flies and ticks as well if you are in the country.

My poor dogs are almost being carried away by flies and two of them seem to have especially tasty ears, as the flies bite them relentlessly on the tips of their ears. So, out with the fly repellent and suddenly – poof – no dogs . . . just tails turning the corner at the gate.

All of my dogs hate fly repellent spray, so I decided: Lets sponge it on. No difference, they disappear like mist in the morning sun. It’s the aroma; they sneeze, so I am using topical long-acting spot-ons.

Yes, my dogs are spoilt, but also, I don’t have time to go chasing them every few days.
Ultrum spot-on as well as Advantix both have a fly repellent in them. This will last for three to four weeks and is also reasonably effective against mosquitoes. Although more expensive than standard fly repellent, these topicals are also effective against ticks and fleas.

Also bear in mind that flies will lay eggs in any damp, smelly area. Please check especially your older dogs. We see animals presenting with maggots if they have wet areas under the tail due to incontinence or have pressure sores from being old and arthritic. The flies find these spots.

In fact, we send all patients with healing wounds from bite or trauma home with fly repellent, just in case. Eggs develop into maggots within a couple of days, so even a weekend is sufficient.

We have lots of mosquitoes at my home, but my cats seem unaffected by them. However, recently I have seen several cats with a mosquito hypersensitivity. Mosquitoes bite cats on their heads mainly, especially in the balder areas on the face: Over the nose and on the ‘temples’ in front of the ears.
Some cats are allergic to mosquitoes and they react with inflamed sores and severe itchiness.

Because cats are so sensitive to any of the insect repellents we use, there is nothing we can put on to them to repel the mosquitoes. All the new safe tick and flea products do not help with this problem.

Some people suggest putting citronella or Tabard or Peaceful Sleep onto the cat. Remember, however, that cats are also very sensitive to smells. So, try it out – but watch how your cat responds before carrying on with it. In general it would be better to see where your cat sits outside and frequently spray that area with some repellent.

In my experience you will need to treat the cat’s reaction rather than avoid mosquitoes, as that is not really possible. The reaction is generally quite severe and self perpetuating. Cortisone is the cornerstone of treatment and luckily cats are quite resistant to its side effects, so a vet will be able to treat them over the summer period with a few injections or pills.

The ticks and fleas are standard pet parasite topics. However, I have never really dwelled on the link between fleas and tapeworms until I recently had two separate stray dogs in the clinic. Both riddled with fleas, and with the deworming we saw tapeworms . . . and more tapeworms. Fleas are an essential part of the tapeworm’s lifecycle. So, if you dog has fleas, there is a good chance it has tapeworm. You need to treat for both parasites and then treat your family.

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