Put fleas and ticks on notice with preventive care
Spring has finally sprung. With it comes warmer weather, blooming flowers, chirping birds and, unfortunately, the onslaught of fleas and ticks. Make sure your pets are protected as you prepare to enjoy more time outside.
Dr. Matt Wall with Brentwood Veterinary Clinic believes springtime pet care is more important than you may think. He says, “Fleas and ticks can cause a variety of problems for dogs and cats. Fleas commonly cause allergic dermatitis that can lead to troublesome itching, skin infections and hot spots. Ingesting fleas can also cause tapeworms to develop inside dogs and cats.” In addition, “Tick borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are present in this region so preventing tick infestations is a vital aspect of good pet care.”
Our climate and heavy wildlife population makes it possible to find fleas and ticks on your pets throughout the year, however peak season in middle Tennessee ranges from March to November. “Warmer temperatures and more time outside increase contact with fleas, ticks, and the wildlife that serve as reservoirs,” said Dr. Wall.
But should all pets take flea and tick medications? And is your pet particularly at risk? Flea and tick prevention should be based on the lifestyle of each individual animal. Dr. Wall says, “It’s important to know your pet’s environment and the likelihood of coming into contact with these parasites. Animals most at risk include those that live near woods or go to parks, barns, dog parks, and farms.”
Your veterinarian can help determine which preventive medications are best for your pet, but you should also note the risks to people when proper precautions aren’t taken. “Fleas prefer dogs and cats yet they will occasionally bite humans and cause discomfort. Also, pets can bring ticks into the house that may then bite people and potentially transmit diseases,” said Dr. Wall.
It’s easy to determine if your pet is suffering from fleas if you see the parasites on them, or when your dog or cat seems to itch and chew on their body. However, Dr. Wall states, “Even ear infections, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping can be caused by flea bites. Also, fleas on cats can be harder to identify since they tend to be more stoic than dogs.”
Ticks can be more difficult to discover but signs to look for are lethargy and general discomfort, as well as localized swelling at the site of the tick bite.
If you suspect your pet has fleas or ticks your first step should be to contact your veterinarian. According to Dr. Wall, “Treatments can include addition or alteration of your current flea and tick preventatives, medicated shampoos, and dewormers. More advanced diseases can require diagnostics and treatments that can increase the cost significantly. Also, a flea infestation in your home can take up to three months to fully resolve.”
Prevention is the most effective form of parasite control. And by keeping fleas and ticks at bay this spring, you and your four-legged friends can spend your time getting the most out of the season.