A typical flea, though it is small and only one twelfth to one sixteenth of an inch long, can jump 14 to 16 inches in a single leap. Once as a kid, our Australian Cattle dogs got a good case of the fleas from getting a little too close to the red fox that was killing our turkeys at the time. It is very hard to kill a flea just by trying to crush it in your fingers, you would need your finger nails to kill them. They have very flat, hard, shell-like backs.
There are more than 2,400 flea species world-wide. They are attracted to animals and people mostly by body heat, but also sense the carbon dioxide that mammals exhale. They can live for more than a month without food, but consume up to 15 times their body weight when they do feed, that is some food for thought isn’t it!
By the way more fun news, fleas reproduce rapidly. An infestation is difficult to avoid once a female’s eggs and have hatched. Fleas can live more than 100 days, in which time millions of offspring are produced. Their small size, quickness, and reproductive prowess make an infestation a tough problem to solve for the average Blue Heeler pet owner.
Bad News fleas:
Now to the bad news besides the risk of infection from a flea bite itself, fleas often carry many diseases that are harmful to pets, dogs and people. Among these diseases are Endemic Typhus, Pneumonic Plague, (black plague) and Bubonic Plague. Plague-carrying fleas were responsible for the death of over half of Europe during the Black Death of the Middle Ages. In modern times, the Bubonic Plague is treatable with large doses of antibiotics, but to this day believe it or not, it still kills many people every year. As side note: a flea can transmit dangerous parasites, such as tape worms, to its host as well. Tape worms can be easily treated though, and I will spare you the story of the tape worms this time.
Unlike fleas, ticks are not insects really. They are arachnids, similar to spiders or scorpions (learn something new every day as smart people say). Some ticks have six legs for a period of their life-cycle, but all eventually develop eight legs.
Ticks attach themselves to a host like your Blue Heeler by burying their heads into the dog’s skin. Once lodged in a host’s skin, the tick drinks blood until it literally swells up like a blood-filled balloon about the size of a human toenail or so. To remove a tick that is attached to your dog, get a good grip on the tick as close to the tick’s head as possible with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. Then give a firm jerk and there the tick is remove. It is just that simple and now you know how to remove a tick. Be sure to kill the tick once it is removed so it will not reattach itself to the dog or worse, you!
Their sensory organs are very complex for an eight legger. Ticks can detect gases such as carbon dioxide exhaled by warm-blooded animals and people. They can sense the potential host’s presence from long distances and even select their ambush site by identifying paths that are well-traveled, smart little blood-sucking buggers. Ticks like to fall onto the host’s head by dropping from trees and tall grass, then crawl onto a host surreptitiously, or they will try to cling to the host as it walks through shorter grass.
Bad News Ticks:
Ticks carry many diseases and transmit a greater variety of infectious agents than any other arthropod. They are responsible for anaemia from blood loss, dermatitis, ascending tick paralysis because of neurotoxins in their saliva, as well as causing infection.
Some of the more harmful colourful names of– and potentially deadly – diseases spread by ticks are Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichia, East Coast Fever, Relapsing Fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Lyme’s Disease.
Contrary to popular belief, there are at least eight species of ticks that can transmit Lyme’s Disease. This disease is potentially deadly and has been contracted in 49 states as of this writing and in Canada. Pets, as well as people, can catch this disabling illness. It is important to take preventive measures when entering areas that may harbour ticks and one should seek medical advice quickly after being bitten if you know Lyme’s disease to be in your area of residence or inquire more info about the area.
Fleas and ticks are a serious nuisance for everyone, not just dogs or cats and their owners. Anyone who spends much time outdoors should take proper precautions to prevent being bitten by these disease-carrying bloodsuckers. The good news is that not all of them are disease carriers.
Wear long pants. Remove the invaders quickly by pinching off, get the head that is in the skin or use a pliers if deep in the hair of your blue heeler. Dont put them on the ground after taking them off, put them in a plactic bag so that the eggs inside get killed too.