Ticks and fleas

29 Aug

External parasites



Ticks on family pets is a serious problem in the Western Cape. The life cycle of ticks usually follows the weather patterns i.e. increased tick infestations usually follow rainy weather. In the Highveld region it is therefore usually a problem associated with summer. In the Western Cape however, ticks occur throughout the year following rainy and humid weather.

ticks on dog

Ticks can infest pets in very high numbers if they are not controlled effectively and can even lead to anaemia. There are also a number of diseases that are transmitted by ticks specifically to our pets that should be taken note of. The most important one is Babesiosis or tick fever / biliary fever. This disease poses a serious threat to our pets and can lead to death if it is not detected early enough by the pet owner. It is therefore very important to know what signs to look out for in your dog’s behaviour when you suspect that he may be coming down with the disease. The first signs are usually a lack of appetite, listlessness and fever. When these symptoms suddenly occur in an otherwise healthy pet, veterinary aid should be sought without delay. The disease can be easily diagnosed by a veterinarian and treatment is successful in most cases provided the disease is picked up early enough.

The other disease commonly transferred by ticks is Ehrlichiosis or tick bite fever. This disease is normally less acute, but still dangerous and must be diagnosed and treated timeously. These two abovementioned diseases can sometimes affect your pet simultaneously.

Cats can also contract tick-borne diseases. Due to the lifestyle of most cats the symptoms of these diseases are often missed by the owner. (Please see our separate articles on blood parasites in cats)

Effective tick control is by far the most effective way of preventing tick-borne disease. (see below)



Due to our humid climate fleas are a massive problem for our pets. They can cause severe irritation, but can also lead to various skin problems. Fleas are still the main cause of skin disease in dogs and cats.




Flea and tick control


Effective control remains by far the best weapon against all the problems associated with fleas and ticks on our pets. During the last few years a lot of improvement has been made concerning the control of external parasites. Ticks can only really be effectively controlled on the animals themselves. Fleas, on the other hand, are mainly an environmental problem due to the different stages in the lifecycle of these parasites that can survive in the environment for months (for example in beds, carpets, cracks in the floor and sand). When the conditions are ideal these fleas can hatch in massive numbers and affect our pets. Depending on the weather patterns these ideal conditions can sometimes be present throughout the year.

The main reason for the failure of flea control in pets is due to the treatments not being used effectively and regularly. A break in flea control is all that is needed for the flea population to start breeding and infecting the environment again. Due to effective, long-acting parasiticides available today, it is possible to really exercise effective control over flea and tick infestations on your pet. These controls are available in different forms, including dips, shampoos, powders, spot-on products, collars and oral medications.

You are welcome to visit any of our three branches where our trained personnel will give you advice for the best treatment options for your unique circumstances. Prevention can play a big role in reducing the need for medical treatment which can be costly if your pet needs intensive and even hospital treatment.