Critters That Can Feast On Your Pet

Hawaii is a wonderful place to live. Beautiful beaches, gorgeous rainbows and exceptional weather are just a few of the reasons why many people love to call Hawaii home.

But other critters also welcome the good life outdoors. Sometimes this can pose a problem.

It was a warm summer’s day, and Harry brought Lassie, his 5-year-old Sheltie, into our hospital because she was just not herself.

“I’ve never seen Lassie act like this,” Harry started. “She just lies around as if she doesn’t have any energy. Over the past couple of days she’ll only eat her dog biscuits and she no longer gives me squishy hugs. At first I thought it was the hot weather that was causing her to be this way, but after a day of her moping around, I knew something wasn’t right.”

I nodded in agreement as I watched Lassie splayed on our office floor. She usually greets me with a tail wag and a lick or two, but on this day she just slumped down with a forlorn look in her eyes. Hoisting her onto the exam table, I started with her exam.

The reason for her lethargy soon became apparent.

“Harry, did you know that Lassie is crawling with ticks?” I asked.

“Ticks … Lassie never had ticks. She’s mostly indoors, except for when she needs to go potty in our yard,” Harry explained. “Where would she get ticks?”

“However she got them, at this time she is covered from head to toe. We’re going to run a quick blood test and try our best to remove as many of these parasites as possible.”

With that said, our veterinary technicians rushed Lassie into the treatment room to get started.

About 30 minutes later I returned to the room to share the blood test results and show Harry the hundreds of ticks that were now floating in alcohol.

“I know this seems hard to believe, but these ticks represent just a fraction of what is still left on Lassie. Her thick fur coat hid these nasty critters from you. Lassie’s blood work, however, is not good, and she’s also running a high fever.”

I offered Harry some tissue as the news brought tears to his eyes.

“I think I know where she got the ticks from, Doc,” Harry muttered. “My neighbor has a couple of outdoor dogs that had ticks. Anyway, in the last couple of weeks, both dogs died. Do you think that the ticks migrated to my yard?”

I explained how parasites like fleas and ticks will leave their host after the host dies.

The ticks next door needed a new home. Some must have taken residence on Lassie, and within no time she was infested.

After blood transfusions and several days in our hospital, Lassie moved on to greener pastures. Harry was devastated and our staff shared his pain.

A few weeks later, we received a box of pastries and a thank-you letter from Harry. He wrote, “Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Lassie and I thank you for all that you did for her. One day I will enjoy squishy hugs again, but till then I will enjoy them in my dreams.”

Pleasant dreams, my friend …