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Combating parasites on the skin and fur of an animal

10 lipca 2014

The most commonly encountered parasites in dogs and cats are flea and ticks, whereas others are much less common.
Due to fundamental differences in the behaviour and resistance of these parasites, the  methods of combating them also vary substantially and therefore need to be addressed separately.

Combating fleas on dogs

Depending on the level of flea infestation, use appropriate program to combat them.
With regard to the dogs, which have little contact with other dogs, that accidentally had been attacked by a single flea is sufficient to have them bathed with the use of insecticide shampoo, and put on a flea repellent collar. It is also recommended to carry out a disinfestation of the dog’s bedding using aerosol insecticides or the ones in the form of dusting powder. For small dogs it may be sufficient to apply the insecticidal collar.

In the case of advanced flea infestation, combating them is usually a long and drawn-out process that requires a lot of patience. The dog should be treated with insecticidal powder (recommended) or aerosol (unfortunately many dogs cannot tolerate the sound of spraying on application). After a few hours (4-6 hours min.) a  dog should be bathed using an insecticidal shampoo of proven efficacy. It is essential to carry out a through disinfestation of all places of a dog’s usual residence, e.g. pens, favourite sofas, armchairs, and others.

By far most convenient is to apply insecticides in sprays, or as dusting powders, whenever necessary. There is no need to be afraid of effects of these preparations,  as the active substances contained in them are in the concentrations safe for humans and animals alike.

Failure to carry out a thorough disinfestation (or its negligent or just cursory execution) will result in a permanent re-occurrence of flea infestation. With regard to the dogs of small and medium-sized breeds (especially the shorthaired ones), it is sufficient to have them bathed first and then protected with an insecticidal collar

For the dogs of the larger breeds, especially the long-haired ones, application of an insecticidal collar usually proves insufficient for the purpose, and so the dog’s coat should be additionally treated with insecticide in the form of dusting powders, aerosol or a "spot-on" agent. The dog should be checked periodically for the presence of parasites. This should be done by way of reviewing very carefully the skin and hair of the dog. It may also be useful to make use of the so-called test paper, a long-standing favourite with all veterinarians, which allows to discover any flea droppings, thereby betraying their presence. We just brush off the dog’s coat over a wet filter paper, and if among the falling off particles there are any that dissolve giving reddish-brown stains we can be sure that fleas are to blame. In such a case we proceed with applying appropriate insecticides on the dog’s skin until all fleas have effectively been eradicated.

Combating fleas on cats

Fighting fleas in cats is slightly different than in dogs. First of all, it is rather hard to persuade most cats to have a bath of any kind, so insecticidal shampoos are an automatic no-go with them. Cats tend to defend themselves against any aerosol preparations to even more vigorously than dogs do, although they seem slightly more tolerant of the insecticidal collars.
In practical terms, it is by far best to use insecticidal powders, in combination with a through disinfestation of their entire environment and bedding, whereas in those cats that happen to be tolerant of insecticidal collars, this device may well be used preventively to ward off a recurrence of flea infestation. As the cats clean off their fur by licking it off, it is advisable after application of the insecticide in the form dusting powder to have it removed after several hours by brushing it off the cat’s fur. To achieve full effectiveness of the treatment, it should be repeated periodically (every 7-10 days) until fleas are completely eradicated.

Safety of procedures

The active ingredients contained in the insecticidal agents are always more or less harmful, although there is no need to be unduly anxious about any hazard to the health of pet animals or people applying them, as concentrations in use and total content of the active substance ensure are perfectly safe both for the animals and humans, provided, of course, they are used in full compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

The problem, however, consists in a possible allergic reaction to the ingredients in these preparations, as even a microscopic amount may induce an allergic reaction. For example, one flea bite can cause FAD (chronic allergic inflammation of the skin) in the dog. Since an allergic reaction can cause serious harm to an animal’s health, no products containing ingredients to which the animal has been proven oversensitive should ever be used, but replaced with other, non-allergenic agents.

How to recognize that an animal is allergic to the product? The surest answer may be provided by the tests carried out by a veterinarian, although a simplified test may just as easily be carried out on our own. A small amount (drop, pinch) of the preparation is to be applied topically on the animal’s skin completely devoid of hair (e.g. on the underbelly), and then a reaction to it observed closely. Should a strong redness (erythema) and swelling appear on the application site, these symptoms are indicative of allergic reaction (hypersensitivity) to the product. In such a case, a different product with a different composition should be tried. In case of difficulty in interpreting the test results unequivocally, a veterinarian should be consulted.
Fortunately enough, allergies befall to a small number of animals, although the issue itself should not be underrated.


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