Pesky Spring & Summer Pests
Summer is almost here, and with it comes fun in the sun, camping and hiking, and trips to the lake side. But along with this season of fun and relaxation comes the usual summertime pests. Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are all visual reminders of the itchy woes we and our pets have to deal with, but there are also the unseen pests. Waterborne parasites and bacterial infections, to mention just two, are also typical summertime plagues.
While we don’t want to get your head spinning from worrying too much about all the things there are to worry about, we do want you to know what you and your pets are up against, and what you might be able to do to mitigate any ill effects.
These pests are nearly impossible to avoid for an entire season. Even with shampoos, collars, powders and sprays, your pet may still end up with fleas. The flea life cycle includes the adult flea, eggs, larva and pupa. The adult fleas are responsible for the biting that leads to itching, but cannot survive long if they are not on the pet, and once they lay their eggs they fall off the pet. Fleas also lay their eggs in shady areas outside and around the house. Most owners first notice frequent and severe itching and scratching, hair loss, and scabs on their pet. Many times the hind end is affected more than the front of the body or the head. Other side effects include anemia, tapeworm infection (a parasite which finds an intermediate host in the flea), pruritis (intense itching with inflamed skin), and hypersensitivity. The best way to check for fleas is with a flea comb. Frequent bathing and combing are essential components of any flea treatment program.
A lovely day out in the woods, communing with nature, breathing fresh air. These are the joys of summer. Unfortunately, ticks like these spots, too, and they don’t mind hanging around to wait for warm blooded travelers like you and your pet to hitch a ride on. Ticks have a hard-backed shield that can be felt as small bumps during regular petting. They are also easily visible when the fur is parted. Side effects include blood loss anemia, hypersensitivity, pruritis, and damage to the lymphatic, immune, and nervous systems. Some of the more serious diseases that ticks can transmit are the Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis. If you will be spending time in grassy or wooded areas with your pet, be sure to do a tick inspection daily so that the tick can be removed before damage can be done.
Even your indoor pets are at risk for some of the miseries brought on by mosquitoes, since mosquitoes can still can get inside on occasion and can bite through screens on windows, where cats tend to rest. Of course, mosquitoes cause itchy bumps, and that is painful enough, but there are also some serious and life-threatening diseases to be aware of. Heartworm, a roundworm that can infect both cats and dogs, is a silent killer that can be easily treated if caught in time.
These little buggers cause itching in a most unfortunate spot. So if you notice that your dog or cat is dragging its hind end across the floor, or licking its anus more than usual, you may have a case of tapeworms. Pieces of the worm may or may not be visible in the feces, so if you suspect an infestation of this parasite, the best you can do is take your pet to the veterinarian to have a fecal examination done. Tapeworms are usually picked up through fleas, when an animal ingests an infected flea, and when animals ingest smaller wild animals that are infected, such as rabbits, birds or rodents.
Please feel free to contact us here at Falls Road Veterinary Hospital with any questions or concerns.