(Louise Rodgers RVN)
“Arrrrrgggggh!” shouted Dougie, leaping up from his bed and scattering Haddock the cat and Chips the dog, who had both been deeply asleep dreaming of fish and cheese respectively. The pets, now in a furry heap on the floor, blinked as the light was switched on and Dougie’s Dad appeared in the doorway looking very sleepy and cross.
“What’s going on in here?” he demanded “It’s three in the morning!”
“There’s something jumping about on my pillow, I saw it when I turned over!
“Must have been a dream” said Dad smiling as he remembered Dougie claiming an entire family of singing chipmunks had set up house in his wardrobe one night long ago.
“Wish I was dreaming” muttered Haddock to Chips, itching himself distractedly while the shaggy dog noisily chewed at his fur and clawed at himself with his hind legs, banging on the floor with each energetic scratch.
Dad looked at Dougie, then at the hairy chums, and was certain he could feel something on his ankle – he gave a start and retreated to the door, shutting it swiftly behind him. The three left in the room heard his muffled voice say “I’ll ring Abercorn in the morning!”
“Haddock and Chips!” called the vet
“With sauce!” added one wag in the waiting room, and his amiable bull terrier grinned as the family followed the vet into the consulting room.
After asking a few questions about how the pets were generally, the vet searched through their coats and looked at their skin. Then she produced a comb and a piece of white paper. Chips was intrigued, he’d seen someone play that at a Hogmanay party.
“Haddock’s skin does look quite irritated near the base of her tail as if she may have a flea allergy and that would tie in with the hopping insects and scratching so I’ll just check for flea dirt by combing some hair over this paper.”
“Flea dirt?” said Dougie’s Mum turning pale.
“Yes, flea dirt is little black flecks passed by fleas; it’s dried blood and turns red when it comes into contact with water. Like that!” she said triumphantly and showed the tiny red spots on the paper to the family who felt less enthusiastic.
“So what next?” asked Dad, faintly.
“We move house!” replied Mum
The vet smiled. “We can treat Haddock and Chips with products that will kill the fleas. Ninety-five percent of the fleas live in the environment, they just hop on to feed so wash all bedding, hoover at the strongest setting everywhere and use this spray that will treat a three-bedroom house and last a year. You have to spray all the nooks and crannies like skirting boards and keep using the hoover to catch the young fleas as they hatch and mature.”
“What about Haddock’s skin?” asked Dougie, concerned for his friend.
“I can give her medication that will help her skin heal and I advise you to treat both of them for fleas every three months so it doesn’t happen again. It can take just one flea to set off an allergy.”
Later, on the way home in the car, Dad looked in the mirror at the three pals sitting glumly in the back seat. “Don’t worry you lot”, he said happily, “You’ll soon be up to scratch!”