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Home Eminent Columnists Amala Akkineni

Amala Akkineni

Amala Akkineni

Amala Akkineni, a name that is now synonymous with animal welfare. A gentle, kind and warm human being, she is always there for the needy animals and birds; beings which are often neglected. Thanks to her team of dedicated, animal-loving people; a considerable difference has been made in the world of animal welfare around the state and especially so, in the city of Hyderabad. The co-founder of Blue Cross of Hyderabad, a registered non-profit animal welfare organisation, here she talks about things close to her heart.

A dog’s life! Ridding your pet of fleas

Some days I drive along the road and see that every street dog is scratching itself in frenzy and I understand what they mean by “a dog’s life”! Poor creatures! Is your pet scratching too? Can you see tiny dark specks in its fur, or small brown-black insects scurrying about? Do you have any unaccounted for insect bites yourself that itch like crazy? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions – it could mean fleas.

Dogs and cats often get infested with fleas through contact with other animals or contact with fleas in the environment. The strong back legs of this insect enable it to jump from host to host or from the environment onto the host. The flea’s bite causes itching for the host and for a sensitive or flea-allergic animal, this itching can be quite severe and leads to hair-loss, inflammation and secondary skin infections.

How do you know if fleas are causing all that itching? Generally, unlike the microscopic mites, fleas can be seen scurrying along the surface of the skin. They dislike light, so look for them within furry areas and on the pet’s belly and inner thighs to spot them. Look for ‘flea dirt’, which looks like dark specks of pepper scattered on the skin surface. If you see flea dirt, (flea feces ), pick some off the pet and place on a wet paper towel. If after a few minutes the tiny specks spread out like a small blood stain, it’s definitely flea dirt and your pet has fleas! Attention to constant scratching or noticing the tendency to itch till the dog bleeds, suggests an allergic reaction to flea bite. Such allergy needs immediate veterinary treatment and should not be ignored.

Treatment, Prevention and Prescription Medication

Treating for fleas is important as fleas feed on blood, so young or frail animals can become weak and even die as a result of blood loss. Flea larvae can become infected with tapeworm eggs. If your pet eats an infected flea it can become host to this parasite. If your pet has fleas you should also make sure your pet is treated for worms. Fleas can also pass diseases to your pets.

There are a wide variety of flea products on the market today, and the newer prescription products are finally taking the frustration out of flea control. Some of these flea products when put on the pet, do not harm the adult flea but instead prevents her eggs from hatching, thus breaking the life cycle of the flea; with no reproduction the flea population eventually dissipates as long as the pet isn’t coming in contact with new fleas continually. Fleas can be a problem even in the most spotless home or on the cleanest pet.

Only give your pet flea treatment that has been recommended for it, ideally as prescribed by a vet. Products suitable for one species may not be suitable for another e.g. dog flea treatments contain permethrin, an insecticide that is safe for dogs but highly toxic to cats. Cats have ingestible flea treatment that protects for 1-3 months depending on dosage and age of cat.

A vacuum cleaner is your single most important weapon in the war on fleas. In fact, it kills nearly 100 percent of fleas that get sucked into it. Though it’s not clear why, hypotheses include the idea that it dries the exterior coating that keeps fleas hydrated.

If preceding pattern of bathing and vacuuming doesn’t do the trick, head to the vet for some professional recommendations like leave-on skin treatments with chemicals etc.

Month: February 2014

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