Archive for the ‘Flea Season’ Category

Allergies and Your Pet

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Sometimes a severe reaction occurs between a substance and the immune system of the body.  This is called an “ALLERGIC REACTION,” and may be caused by dust, weeds, molds, grass, foods, fleas., as well as many other materials.

In humans, the reaction that occurs usually affects the respiratory system, causing breathing problems such as asthma.  A different type of chemical reaction usually occurs in the body of the dog and cat. The major sign that occurs as a result of this particular type of allergic reaction is usually itching. The itching causes the pet to chew and scratch; which, in turn causes more damage to the skin. The skin often becomes infected or thickened from prolonged chewing and scratching. 

Some allergic reactions occur as soon as exposure occurs, but most reactions are delayed; and don’t become evident for 3-7 days after the exposure. This can make determination of the causative agent very difficult. Often a pet that develops an allergy will develop other  allergies later in life, which makes control even more frustrating at times.

An allergy never develops the first time exposure occurs. It takes time for the body to develop an allergy to a particular substance.  Remember people and pets are similiar in that they become allergic to what they are exposed to the MOST!!  So your pet is most likely to become allergy to a substance it is in contact with on a daily basis! This is the reason many pets do not develop an allergy until the later years of life.

The most common allergy seen in the dog and cat is the result of flea bites. The pet becomes allergic to the PROTEIN in the SALIVA of the flea. The reaction can occur after only one flea bite!!  Many times there will be no fleas on the pet when it is examined, which causes the owner to question the diagnosis. Remember  MOST ALLERGIC REACTIONS OCCUR 3-7 DAYS AFTER THE EXPOSURE TO THE ALLERGENIC SUBSTANCE.

Allergies are often NOT PREVENTABLE; but CONTROL with medications is effective,  as long as the owner will follow our instructions and continue treatment. You must be patient and realize that the condition probably will recur throughout the pet’s life, if and when exposure occurs.

The secret is to get proper medical attention as soon as signs of allergy are seen.  Prompt treatment will prevent the skin lesions from becoming more severe.

Initial recommendations are to control flea infestation.  Fighting fleas is a constant war because:

• The flea’s life cycle can involve more than one year’s time.
• Most of the life cycle of the flea occurs off the pet.
• Premises may be contaminated with fleas from other animals.

Fleas must be kept off the pet to control the allergic reaction. There are many topical flea treatments available at our hospital that will help control fleas. Treatment of the house and yard is sometimes still necessary in areas highly infested with fleas.

Once flea allergy is eliminated or controlled, then we can move on to other aspects of the problem  such as food allergy, contact allergy, and inhaled allergies. We find that if the flea allergy can be controlled, it then becomes much easier to control the other problems in most cases. We highly recommend “allergy testing” or referral to a dermatologist in dogs with recurrent allergies that are difficult to control with oral medications.

Flea Facts and How to Protect Your Pet

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010


Flea Infestations are the most common parasite problem of dogs and cats in our area. It is estimated that American  pet owners spend over 500 million dollars each year on flea products most of which do not work! During the past few years much research has centered on studying the life cycle of the species of fleas that attack dogs and cats in an effort to develop better flea control methods. There are over 2000 species of fleas, but only a few actually attack dogs and cats

Here are some facts you should know:
 Flea eggs are white and about the size of a grain of sand. The eggs are laid while the flea is on the pet and easily roll off the fur into the environment. Eggs usually hatch in 1 10 days, depending on the temperature and humidity.  Once the eggs hatch, the larvae move deeper into the carpet to get away from light and searching for food. Temperatures below 650 and relative humidity below 70% slow down growth of the flea. When the larva is mature, it produces a silk like cocoon. Because the cocoon is sticky, it quickly becomes coated with debris from the environment that helps camouflage it. 

 This stage can last 9 174 days. Adult fleas emerge from the cocoon when stimulated by heat, vibrations, and exhaled carbon dioxide. The entire life cycle can be completed in as little as 12 14 days, or as long as 140 days.  Under average conditions, the entire life cycle takes 3 4 weeks.

 Adult fleas are attracted to house pets by the warmth of their body, movement, and changes in light intensity, and exhaled carbon dioxide. Fleas have tremendously powerful back legs, which they use for jumping on your pet. It is estimated that if we had the power in our legs that the a flea has; we could jump over the Empire State Building. It is reported that fleas can jump as high as 13 feet.

 It is now known that the adult flea species that attacks dogs and cats spends its ENTIRE Adult Life on your pet.  Once the adult flea begins to feed on your pet, it must have almost constant excess to the blood of your pet for it to survive. Adult fleas cannot live off your pet more than 3 4 days without a blood meal.

 Egg production begins within 48 hours of the first blood meal, reaches a peak of 40 50 eggs per day and can last well over 100 days. Female fleas can produce over 2000 eggs during their life. This is equivalent to producing their body weight in eggs every day of their life. While only a fraction of these eggs will eventually develop to adults in the natural environment, this high rate of reproduction ensures that there will ALWAYS be fleas!

 New adult fleas must have a blood meal within 2 3 weeks after hatching. The higher the temperature and lower the humidity, the quicker the fleas will die.

 It is common for people to be attacked by fleas after returning from vacation or being away from home for several days. This is often due to the increased temperature that occurs when the air conditioning is turned back providing a better optimum temperature and humidity (in our area) for fleas to mature.

 Fleas consume 15 times their body weight with every blood meal. An infestation of 220 female fleas could consume 10% of a 1-pound kitten’s blood volume in one day. The majority of blood
consumed is passed out as partially digested feces (”Flea Dirt”) that serve as essential food for flea larvae in the carpets and other areas.



Treat shady areas, damp areas, dog houses, and other areas where your pet spends the majority of it’s time.  Call your local exterminator or yard care professional for more information on getting your yard sprayed for fleas.

VACUUM the house THOROUGHLY, at least once each week to remove eggs.  This includes vacuuming all carpeted and non carpeted areas as well as your furniture.  When you are finished vacuuming make sure you take your bag out of your vacuum or empty your bagless container into a trash bag and take it outside to put in a closed container.  There are topical powders and OTC bombs you can buy to treat your home after you have cleaned it thoroughly.  Severe infestion usually requires professional bombing of your home by your local exterminator.

There are many OTC flea products out there however the best products to protect your pets from flea infestation can be found at your veterinarian’s office.  These topicals not only prevent against fleas but also prevent against other parasites such as ticks.  They are usually applied every 4 weeks to the skin inbetween the shoulder blades.  Go visit or call your veterinarian today to find out what is the best flea preventative for your pet.  At Brawley Animal Hospital we recommend treating your pet with Vectra.

Microchipping Your Pet

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Microchipping Your Pet

Dog and cat microchipping is a simple procedure. A veterinarian simply injects a microchip for pets, about the size of a grain of rice (12mm), beneath the surface of your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. The process is similar to a routine shot, takes only a few seconds, and your pet will not react any more than he would to a vaccination. No anesthetic is required.

A HomeAgain microchip is permanent pet ID. The microchip itself has no internal energy source, so it will last the life of your pet. It is read by passing a microchip scanner over the pet’s shoulder blades. The scanner emits a low radio frequency that provides the power necessary to transmit the microchip’s unique cat or dog ID code and positively identify the pet.

HomeAgain is the only dog & cat microchipping product on the market today that has the Bio-Bond™ patented anti-migration feature to help ensure that the microchip will stay in place so that it may be easily located and scanned. If your pet gets lost and is taken to an animal shelter or veterinarian, they will scan the microchip to read its unique dog or cat ID code. This is the number used by HomeAgain to identify the pet and retrieve your contact information, which is used to contact you and reunite you with your pet.

Click on the link below to watch a video on how to microchip your pet.

Microchipping Your Pet

This information can from HomeAgain microchips.  HomeAgain are the microchips we use at Brawley Animal Hospital!