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Fleas and Ticks
Spring isn’t just the time of year when April showers bring May flowers, it’s flea and tick season. While we warm up, fleas and ticks become more of a pest for our pets. Flea eggs hatch and pets spend more time outdoors, so we see more dogs and cats suffering from fleas and ticks.
Fleas and ticks thrive in temperatures above 40-degrees which means they’re already everywhere. Now is the time to evaluate how you are protecting your dog or cat from fleas and ticks.
Fleas and ticks can cause a wide range of serious health issues for our pets. Both of these parasites that can cause direct harm to your pet and expose them to greater risk, and more serious problems, like Lyme Disease, tapeworms and even anemia.
Fleas eggs take up to two weeks to hatch which makes them very difficult to get rid of once your pet and home become infested. Flea infestation is not a one-time treatment it can take weeks to months to get your pet and home flea free and be very costly.
Female fleas begin to lay eggs a day or two after feeding and can lay between 20-40 eggs each day. Adult fleas only make up about 5% of the total population of fleas. Eggs are laid on the host and fall off, ending up in carpets, upholstery, floorboards, etc. They hatch about two days later. Many wild animals like rats, mice, and rabbits can carry fleas and spread them to your yard or where you walk your dog.
Health Issues Caused by Fleas
Flea Allergy Dermatitis: Many dogs and cats are actually allergic to flea saliva. This can cause your pet to develop severe bumps and bald patches.
Hot Spots: Painful and irritating to pets, hot spots are the result of your dog or cat chewing and licking the same area over and over again, making it vulnerable to bacteria.
Tapeworms: As your dog or cat chews the area where a flea bites them, there’s a likely chance they will swallow the culprit. Fleas infected with tapeworm can spread parasites to your pet’s intestines.
Anemia: Because fleas and ticks live off your pet’s blood, they can cause them low red blood cell counts which can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Bartonella: Also known as “Cat Scratch Fever,” this infection can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.
Our area is particularly prone to ticks that can make our dogs and cats very ill. Ticks are especially active this time of year. As you return to hiking, going to the park or just spending time out in your yard.
There are two groups of ticks, sometimes called hard ticks and soft ticks. Hard ticks, like the common American dog tick, have a hard shield just behind the mouth parts (sometimes incorrectly called the head); unfed hard ticks are shaped like a flat seed. Soft ticks do not have the hard shield and they are shaped like a raisin. Soft ticks prefer to feed on birds or bats and are seldom found on dogs or cats.
Female ticks deposit from 3,000 to 6,000 eggs on the ground. Male hard ticks usually die after mating with one or more females, although some may continue to live for several months. Females die soon after laying their eggs in protected habitats on the ground. The life cycle requires from as little as 2 months to more than 2 years, depending on the species.
Health Issues Caused by Ticks
Lyme Disease: Lyme Disease causes joint issues, arthritis, and possible lameness in infected pets.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: This causes fever, lameness, and damage to your dog’s blood vessels.
Other Diseases and Illnesses: Anemia, Rickettsiosis, Anaplasmosis, Bourbon Virus, Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia.
Ticks don’t just threaten your pet’s health, but they can threaten yours, too. If your pet brings a tick into your home and it drops off after feeding, it can attach to you and cause many of the same diseases as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
The health issues related to fleas and ticks many times aren’t recognized until they’ve progressed to becoming harmful, even life-threatening to pets.
The moral of the story is be proactive and seek preventative measures.
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