The Terrible Two – Ticks and Fleas


Ticks are ectoparasites (external parasites), that feed on the blood of animals, i.e. mammals, birds and sometimes reptiles and amphibians.

Animals and humans pick up ticks from their environment. Ticks undergo what is called questing, whereby they crawl up shrubs or long grass up to about 40-60cms off the ground. As animals walk past, they brush against the tick, dislodging it and the tick then attaches itself to the animal. It’s an ambush type attack and these horrible creatures lie in wait for a long time, as they can go for over a year without feeding.

Ticks can spread bacteria and parasites through their bites causing diseases in animals and humans.

It is essential for you to make sure that your puppy is protected from ticks. There are a number of solutions available to control ticks; from shampoos to monthly spot-on treatments. Always ask your vet which treatment she recommends.

Beware of Biliary

One of the diseases that can be caused by ticks is Biliary. Sadly, thousands of dogs die in South Africa each year from this disease. It can become fatal from between 24-48 hours. Early detection can save their lives. Unfortunately the longer the disease has progressed, the smaller the chance of survival for your pet.

Watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy or listlessness
  • Pale gums and inside of eyes (almost white)
  • Rapid heartbeat

Advanced symptoms include:

  • Dark or plum colour urine
  • Severe lethargy
  • Deep laboured breathing or panting

If you suspect your dog has any of these symptoms, take him to the vet IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT wait, as even a day, may make the difference between life and death. If your dog doesn’t present with any of these symptoms but is “off colour” or “not themselves” (you’ll know instinctively) take them to the vet ASAP as this may be indicative of early signs of the disease and must not be ignored. Remember the earlier you treat this horrible disease the better the chances of survival.


Fleas are ectoparasites (external parasites), that feed on the blood of other animals and birds.

Fleas can live on animals on in their environment like gardens, or carpets. So treating pets and their environment is the key to controlling fleas. Fleas can be brought into your dog’s environment through other dogs, stray cats or urban wildlife. An animal may shake its coat and like a salt shaker effect, the fleas are airborne and transferred to the environment or other animals.

Fleas will look for a warm host like your pet to bite and feed on, and continue to breed. A female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day.

The best solution for the control of fleas is to avoid them all year round. Once you have an infestation, you will need to treat your animals and your home. There are a number of solutions available for flea control such as flea collars, shampoos, powder and monthly spot-on treatments. Always ask your vet for her advice on the best treatment for your pet.