Pets bring joy and companionship to our lives, but they are susceptible to preventable diseases that can cause serious harm or even be fatal. That’s why regular vaccinations are crucial in ensuring their health and well-being. In this article, we will delve into the importance of pet vaccination, flea control, and worming, providing you with essential information to keep your furry friends safe.
Vaccinating Your Cat
Cats in New Zealand are vulnerable to flu viruses and the potentially fatal Feline Enteritis virus. To protect them, vaccinations are necessary. Additionally, cats can be safeguarded against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), which is transmitted through bites from infected cats. If your feline companion has access to the outdoors, it is imperative to consider this vaccination.
Kittens should receive their first vaccinations at 8, 10, and 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster at 6 months. For most cats, this coincides with their de-sexing post-op check-up. If your kitten has been desexed earlier, consult your vet for their recommendation. After the initial booster, annual vaccinations are required to maintain protection.
Vaccinating Your Dog
In New Zealand, vaccinations protect dogs against diseases such as Parvovirus, Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, and Canine Cough (previously known as Kennel Cough). Parvovirus and Canine Cough are particularly prevalent in kiwi dogs and require special attention.
Puppies can receive their first vaccination as early as 6 weeks if they are considered high-risk, but it is generally administered at 8, 12, and 16 weeks. These early vaccinations are crucial in preventing Parvovirus and Canine Cough. After the initial course, annual vaccinations are necessary.
Socialization is essential for puppies before they are fully protected against these dangerous diseases. Until ten days after their 16-week vaccination, it is advisable to socialize them only with healthy and fully-vaccinated dogs in a safe environment, typically at home. Additionally, boarding kennels require dogs to be fully protected at least 10 days before their stay. Some kennels may also request a Canine Cough vaccine within 6 months prior to boarding, as protection against the disease diminishes over time.
In most cases, pets show little to no reaction after vaccinations. However, occasional mild side effects such as slight discomfort or swelling at the vaccination site may occur. Dogs that receive an intranasal Canine Cough vaccine may experience occasional sneezing for a few days. Allergic reactions are extremely rare, but if you have any concerns, it is best to contact your vet. Remember, the benefits of vaccinating your beloved pet far outweigh any potential risks.
Worming Your Kitten and Puppy
Regular worming is vital in controlling intestinal worms in cats and dogs. It’s particularly important considering that some of these worms can pose health risks to humans, especially children who often have close contact with family pets. The following worming schedules are recommended:
- Kittens: Worm every fortnight from 2 weeks of age until 12 weeks old, then monthly until 6 months old, and subsequently every 3 months for life.
- Puppies: Worm every fortnight from 2 weeks of age until 12 weeks old, then monthly until 6 months old, and subsequently every 3 months for life.
Prevention is key when it comes to worm infestations. Ensure you wash your hands after playing with your pet and prevent dogs from licking your face, as this can help prevent the transmission of worms. Keep your pets’ bedding and sleeping areas clean and free from fleas, old food scraps, and feces, which can serve as potential sources of worm infestation. Avoid placing housing, bedding, and runs directly on bare earth. Additionally, refrain from feeding offal to your pet unless it has been boiled for 30 minutes and prevent them from scavenging dead carcasses.
Flea Treatment and Prevention
Fleas are a year-round problem for pets, as they can be active regardless of the season. Treatment depends on your pet’s weight and differs between cats and dogs. Even with a diligent treatment plan, infestations can still occur if an untreated animal passes through your pet’s environment, leading to the infestation of flea eggs and larvae. Let’s explore the life cycle of fleas and how to combat them effectively.
The Flea Life Cycle
The flea life cycle comprises four stages:
Stage 1 – Flea Eggs: Adult female fleas lay up to 50 small white flea eggs per day on your pet’s coat. These eggs fall off into the environment within eight hours of being laid.
Stage 2 – Flea Larvae: Flea eggs hatch into larvae within 1-6 days. These larvae move away from light and thrive in moist environments, usually near the ground.
Stage 3 – Flea Pupae: After five to 11 days, flea larvae spin silk cocoons and become pupae, which can remain dormant for up to six months, depending on environmental conditions. It is important to note that no insecticidal treatment kills pupae, so continuous prevention is necessary.
Stage 4 – Adult Fleas: Young fleas are stimulated to emerge from the cocoon by your pet’s body temperature, movement, shadows, and exhaled carbon dioxide. Within seconds, newly emerged fleas can jump onto your pet and begin mating, producing more flea eggs and restarting the cycle within 24-48 hours.
The development from flea egg to adult flea can take as little as 12 days or as long as 325 days, depending on various factors.
The Problems Fleas Cause
Fleas are blood-sucking parasites that can make life miserable for both pets and their owners. They can cause intense itching, resulting in hair loss and uncomfortable skin conditions like Flea Allergy Dermatitis, caused by an allergic reaction to flea saliva. Fleas can also lead to tapeworm infestations and anemia, particularly in puppies and kittens.
How Pets Pick Up Fleas
Fleas seldom jump from one pet to another; instead, they are acquired from infested environments. Whether it’s your garden, a local park, or a friend’s house, any place that hosts animals carrying fleas, such as hedgehogs, possums, or other cats and dogs, can become a source of infestation. These infested animals leave behind flea eggs, which hatch into fleas when they sense warmth, carbon dioxide, and vibrations from a passing pet, leading to reinfestation.
To prevent fleas effectively, follow these recommendations:
- Use flea treatment regularly as directed by the instructions on the product you have purchased to kill adult fleas on your pet.
- Ensure all the cats and dogs in your household are treated, as each pet can act as a host for a flea infestation.
- Vacuum your carpets and furnishings regularly, while washing your pets’ bedding above 60°C. This helps reduce the number of eggs, larvae, and pupae in the environment.
- Use an environmental spray or fogger containing an Insect Growth Regulator to kill eggs and larvae in your home. Keep in mind that existing pupae will continue to hatch for several weeks until the flea population is depleted.
- It is normal to see a few new fleas on your pet even after treatment, as treatment does not repel fleas. If your pet visits an infested environment, new adult fleas may jump onto them. However, these fleas will be eradicated within 24 hours, depending on the treatment product chosen.
To further reduce the risk of flea re-emergence and re-infestation, consider the following recommendations:
- Discard flea-infested items, such as bedding, whenever possible.
- Clean between floorboards and in cracks between tiles and pavers.
- Vacuum regularly and steam clean if possible to remove eggs and encourage fleas to emerge.
- Wash pet bedding and blankets regularly in hot water.
- Place items that come into contact with pets but cannot be washed under direct sunlight every few days, as sunlight helps kill immature flea stages.
- If possible, prevent untreated pets from visiting your home.
- Conduct a “white sock test” by wearing long white socks and walking around your pet’s environment. This will stimulate any fleas to emerge and jump onto the socks, helping you identify the source of the infestation and concentrate your cleaning efforts accordingly.
Remember, prevention is key when it comes to protecting your pets and your home from fleas.
For more information and professional advice regarding pet vaccination, flea control, and worming, consult a trusted veterinarian. And if you’re looking for a reputable pet care center that offers top-quality services, visit Katten TrimSalon.