Veterinarians at a Canadian hospital saved a dog covered with tens of thousands of fleas that were siphoning the pup's blood, leaving him weak and on the brink of death.
Rascal, a 14-year-old terrier, was infested with about 100,000 fleas when he was taken to the Nanaimo Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia. He'd been rescued from a severely neglectful home, but his case was so critical the local ASPCA didn't have the means to give him the help he needed.
At first, they thought the dog was covered in dirt. But a closer look revealed fleas, flea dirt and flea eggs. The dog had lost 85 percent of his blood, and vets said the terrier was in critical distress.
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"Fleas feed on blood, which is why poor Rascal was in critical distress when he came into our care. He was literally dying from fleas,” said Tina Heary, BC SPCA senior animal protection officer.
Vets immediately decided to give the pooch an emergency blood transfusion after they found another dog that was a universal blood donor. The procedure took about four hours.
For now, the terrier is recovering in a foster home and will eventually be put up for adoption.
“We strongly encourage pet guardians to consult their veterinarian about flea prevention, which costs considerably less than having to treat an infestation," said Heary. "It is also important to note that flea control products for dogs are very different from flea treatments for cats and that using the wrong product can be toxic for your pet."