As the days get longer and warmer, we start to hear questions about the risks for our pets that come with warm weather. In our area most of our patients benefit from prevention for fleas and ticks from March to May with additional heartworm prevention from June to November.
What Kind of Damage Can Fleas Cause?
Fleas are more than just a discomfort for pets. Smaller or younger animals are particularly vulnerable. When they feed on your pet, fleas can cause:
• Flea Allergy Dermatitis (fleas do not make animals itchy unless there a flea bite allergy)
• Flea Anemia
• Feline Infectious Anemia (a life-threatening blood parasite carried by fleas)
• Cat Scratch Fever/Bartonellosis (does not make the cat sick but the infected cat can make a person sick)
• Common Tapeworm infection
How to prevent fleas?
We used to control fleas with shampoos, powders, collars, and sprays. While these products are still available, there are newer and better products available now.
Ticks are found where there is long grass, wildlife and water with semi-annual “blooms” or increases in population, every spring and fall. These blind insects spend much of their life waiting for a passing pet or human to drop down on and feed in order to reproduce. Ticks can carry a number of infections but only Lyme disease can be vaccinated against. Other diseases carried by ticks include:
- Tick Paralysis
- Hemobartonellosis: spread by fleas and ticks, causes feline anemia
- American Canine Hepatozoonosis: affects dogs in the southern United States
- Babesiosis: more commonly affects dogs in the southern United States but also seen in Northeastern areas
- Tularemia: more severe in cats than dogs, also spread by fleas
- Cytauxzoonosis: affects cats in the southern United States
It is recommended to use a topical or oral product that prevents ticks if your pet frequents areas with water and long grass. But since no product provides 100% protection, be sure to check your cat or dog for ticks daily by feeling around the armpits, ears and neck and other warm areas preferred by ticks. Lyme disease is more prevalent around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario being spread by ticks on songbirds which frequent those lakes, but shows up rather randomly elsewhere as ticks fall of birds in transit. However, you must be very careful — some products that are safe for dogs are lethal for cats. If you find a tick on your pet please contact us for assistance in removal and identification.