For many people, moving to another country requires an attention to detail when it comes to bringing their pets. Beyond the necessary documentation, ensuring that a dog or cat’s vaccination records meet the destination’s standards helps the country control pest and disease populations. Accordingly, controlling for external parasites is a rule that typically applies to pets moving internationally. Aside from the travel regulations, controlling for external parasites at home might be a necessity for pet owning families in some regions.
What External Parasites Prey On Pets?
Fleas are probably the most stereotypical malady for the canine. No matter why a dog is scratching, it could be easy to assume that fleas are involved at first due to the association. There are several thousand species of flea, with each species having evolved to accommodate a specific host environment. The dog flea, or Ctenocephalides canis, is particularly bad for people because it harbors Dipylidium caninum, the flea tapeworm. The cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is the most abundant. Both of these species have the potential to bite and cause problems for humans in addition to their animal hosts. With life spans of several months to a year given an ample food supply, fleas are able to reproduce at exponential rates under the right conditions.
Ticks that affect dogs and humans are usually deer ticks, American dog ticks, and the west black-legged tick. Deer ticks are particularly dangerous, serving as vectors for the most prevelant tick-borne disease in humans, Lyme disease. After feeding on an infected field mouse, a host deer tick will attach itself to a deer or dog before being introduced to a human host. The disease and its symptoms can be fatal if left untreated.
Heavy flea and tick populations have historically been found in the south eastern part of the United States. External parasites thrive in conditions of high temperature and humidity. Recently, fleas and ticks appear to be migrating in ever greater amounts to the west coast, midwest and northeast.
Ways to Control External Parasites In Pets
Various options exist for eliminating flea populations in the backyard. Diatomaceous earth can be laid down in problem areas of small yards to control small populations. The finely ground sea shell material makes it dificult for fleas to travel and reproduce. Yard care product manufacturers like Bayer also make chemicals (such as Imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid & low risk pesticide) that can be used to neutralize growing fleas outdoors.
Pet owners that live in hot, humid areas with hardwood trees and deer are wise to research tick populations. If ticks and fleas are constantly being found on a dog or cat despite efforts to control the yard, there are two excellent products that can be applied topically to the pet.
Advantix II is a combination of Imidacloprid, Permethrin and Pyriproxfen, all considered low risk chemicals by the EPA. It is used as a systemic protection for dogs against fleas, flea eggs and ticks, while also repelling mosquitoes. This product can only be used for dogs that live in homes without cats, becaues Permethrin is highly and acutely toxic to cats when ingested in any amount.
Frontline Plus uses a combination of Fipronil and Methoprene to destroy fleas, flea eggs, and ticks. As with Advantix II, dogs receive this systemic treatment topically between the shoulder blades. When fleas or ticks bite the dog and begin feeding, the active ingredients damage nervous system function in insects, eventually resulting in death. Fortunately, topical applications like these pose a low risk to adverse effects in the treated dog or cat relative to the damage wrought by a tick or flea infestation. Unlike Advantix, Frontline Plus is safe for dogs and cats.
While there are several options for controlling external pets, owners must also consider vaccinations and heart worm preventatives. We advise that anyone relocating domestically or internationally call us to speak to one of our professionals regarding pre-travel care. We are confident in our ability to always satisfy veterinary travel regulations, so let us know your specific concerns and we will provide the solution!