This article is contributed by guest writer, @Dakota_Murphey.
Fleas and Ticks: How to Protect Your Pets This Springtime
For pet owners everywhere, spring and summer means keeping a vigilant eye out for fleas and ticks. These little pests can be incredibly annoying and uncomfortable to pet dogs and cats, but that’s not all. Both fleas and ticks have the power to do real damage to the health of your pet unless you are on guard.
Watch out for signs of these nasty conditions caused, either directly or indirectly, by fleas:
- Flea allergy dermatitis is a skin condition characterized by intense itching, inflammation and hair loss in cats, dogs and other small furry animals. It’s an unfortunate allergic reaction to flea saliva.
- Ingesting fleas that carry tapeworm larva can lead to a tapeworm infection in your pet, an all too common occurrence. If you notice itching or the presence of what looks like rice grains around the anus or in feces, make an appointment with your vet without delay.
- Anaemia symptoms in your pet include pale gums, fatigue and general weakness. This can be caused by significant blood loss from flea bites in serious infestations affecting very young or small pets. If your furry friend is scratching a lot, contact your vet.
If you live in an area known where ticks are known to be active, be warned that both dogs and cats are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases including:
- Lyme disease is one of the most common tick transmitted threats to your pet, and can lead to swollen joints and lameness, poor appetite and fever.
- Ehrlichiosis is a tick transmitted bacterial illness that causes flu like symptoms, depression and bleeding problems in dogs.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is one of the deadliest infections in America transmitted by ticks. It can cause fever, painful joints and muscles, loss of appetite.
To protect your pet dogs and cats from these pesky and potentially dangerous parasites, we recommend taking these simple steps, particularly if you live in a high risk area and your pet loves the Great Outdoors.
- While ticks and fleas are always more common during the warmer months (they do best in an environment of 65-80F), some may be able to survive indoors during the winter. This means your pet needs year round flea and tick protection. Ask your vet for the best solution to keep ticks and fleas at bay, and follow the instructions carefully.
- Check your pet for ticks on a regular basis. Once indoors, carefully inspect the animal’s skin, ears and armpits. Deer ticks that cause Lyme Disease have to be attached for around 24 hours for the pathogen to be transmitted, so get rid of any ticks you find as soon as possible. Alert your vet if your pet shows signs of lethargy, limping or loss of appetite.
- In addition to a well-groomed pet, ensure that the environment your pet inhabits – including the house and garden – are also kept clean and tidy. Outdoors, mow the lawn to discourage ticks; they like the high grass. Fleas like warm, damp and shady areas with organic debris. Keep your garden neatly maintained so there are fewer places to hide and breed.
- Always check the expiration date on the packet before you give the flea or tick medication to your furry friend. Old veterinary formulations that are past their date may lose their efficacy, which can have potentially devastating results. Use the opportunity to take your pet to the vet and get the most up-to-date products available.
- It’s dangerous to get feline and canine medications mixed up. Some flea and tick preventatives that are formulated for dogs may contain ingredients that are in fact poisonous to cats. The label will clearly indicate whether the product has been approved for cats or dogs, so make sure you only use it as intended.
- Finally, book your dog or cat in for regular routine veterinarian check-ups where signs of parasite problems can be investigated, the effectiveness of preventative flea and tick products verified and the right medication prescribed as necessary.