Tuesday, November 23, 2010

253. Ticks in the apartment dog

Each dog owner has his or her own favourite vet and so I did not want to interfere in this case as this 70-year-old man may view me as soliciting for business. He is a general trader by profession and yesterday he invited me to his apartment to collect some multi-vitamins and calcium which he had bought at a discount from a China trade fair last week. "The company officers at the fair did not want to take the bottles back and sold them at huge discounts on the last day of the fair. If you don't want them, I will offer them to James. He will surely buy them."

I am personally not keen on taking multivitamins and calcium from unknown drug companies as there had been horror stories from one company in Australia producing poor quality multi-vitamins marketed by health shops in Singapore some years ago. There was no quality control but a desire to make money.

I accepted his invitation to visit him as a friend. He had two dogs. One 17-year-old cross had died recently and suddenly of a bloated stomach and he was still grieving over the loss.

"He killed the dog with too much vitamins and glucosamine," the wife told me.
"Based on the history of sudden swelling of the abdomen, I think the dog had a ruptured big blood vessel due to old age. The dog's abdomen started to swell as the bleeding filled the abdomen. The dog lives to a ripe old age of 17 years and it is inevitable that the big blood vessel would break down. The only way to find the definite cause of death is a post-mortem."

"No point in having a post-mortem," the husband said that the dog had been cremated.

"When I die, I have asked my children to scatter my ashes in the sea," the wife said. "That will save them the trouble of having them to maintain my grave or urn. The later generations may forget about doing any maintenance."

The husband shocked me by saying: "Your ashes in the sea will kill all the fishes!" What a surprising thing to say. This was the first time I met the wife, a silver-haired trim lady.

"Well," I said to the husband to defuse the awkwardness of his comments, "Your ashes in the sea will kill all the whales."

The wife kept picking out the ticks from her Silkie Terrier. "The ticks keep appearing on the dog. Small dotted ones."

"Did you use spot-on insecticides like Frontline?" I asked.

"Not effective."

So this 7-year-old Silkie had been biting her back area till they were almost bald. "This could be a tick-bite allergy," I said to the wife. The dog was on prednisolone tablets and anti-ringworm tablets for many weeks.

I had to intervene for the sake of this poor dog. "I cannot guarantee, but this dog may have a full coat of hair if you can get rid of the ticks in the apartment and on this dog."

"Really?" the wife was interested as to what she should do.

"I cannot guarantee anything," I said. "The first step is to get the dog clipped bald, de-ticked and given a different type of spot-on insecticide. De-contaminate the apartment area where the dog stays usually. Best of all, after de-ticking put the dog in another part of the apartment so that the baby ticks cannot jump onto her.

"Will the dog have a full coat during Christmas?"

"I cannot guarantee it. Do you have a good groomer who can clip the dog bald and de-ticked? Ask your vet for a different spot-on insecticide."

Ticks in a dog can be difficult to be rid of due to the re-infestation from the surroundings. Apparently this dog does not go outdoors and therefore the ticks must be from inside the apartment. "My vet advised Bagon spray onto the walls," the wife said. "It does not work."

"It is hard to get rid of ticks if you don't isolate the de-ticked dog from the contaminated area," I said. "In any case, there are so many cracks in the wall and you need to do it thoroughly. Some vets and pest control companies advise 'bombs'. You close all the windows. Release the gas from the bombs to fumigate and kill all the ticks. It does not work in practice for many reasons."

"You have two dogs. Get both of them clipped bald and de-ticked by your groomer or your vet."

Many owners have their preferred vets and so I just give some free advices.

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