Spring is here, and with Summer just on the horizon, an increase in the presence of certain pet parasites isn’t too far away. While fleas and ticks can occur at any point of the year in Texas, warmer weather increases their numbers. With higher temperatures encouraging us to spend more time outside, our pets are even more likely to be affected by these irritating and harmful pests. Experts agree that the best way to keep your pet safe from both of these parasites is to ensure that they receive year-round preventative treatment.
With this in mind, here'’s our guide to preparing for flea and tick season.
There are a number of reasons why it is in yours (and your pet’s) best interests to keep fleas at bay.
Fleas cause unpleasant symptoms. Fleas can cause itching in all warm-blooded animals, but if your pet suffers from flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), this itching will be significantly worse! A single flea bite in a pet with FAD can be enough to cause unbearable itching and many pets scratch so much that they damage their skin, causing open wounds, soreness and infections.
Fleas carry diseases. Many people don’t realize that fleas act as intermittent hosts for a number of diseases including bubonic plague, bartonellosis, and tapeworms, all of which have their own consequences for your pet’s health.
Fleas can affect humans too. Although fleas generally prefer feeding on animals, they will quite happily bite any humans living in your home too. These bites will be itchy, irritating and can become sore, swollen and even infected if you scratch at them too much.
Fleas are notoriously hard to get rid of. Fleas have a reputation for being difficult to treat and for treatment to be successful, you need to destroy them at every stage of their lifecycle. These tiny creatures lurk under furniture, in cracks in floorboard and under skirting boards, and their eggs are too small to see with the naked eye. They also reproduce extremely quickly, meaning a single flea can turn into a huge infestation in just a few months.
Ticks are also an unpleasant and dangerous parasite.
Ticks carry diseases too. Just like fleas, ticks are disease-carrying and many of these diseases can make your pet quite unwell. Some of the diseases that ticks carry include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis and Heptazoonosis. These can have lasting consequences for your pet’s health.
Ticks can cause paralysis. Although fairly rare, there is a condition known as tick paralysis that occurs when a neurotoxin present in the saliva of some varieties of tick causes the central nervous system of your pet to slowly shut down. Paralysis starts in the lower extremities but can spread upwards. If it affects the diaphragm or heart, tick paralysis can be life-threatening.
Fortunately, protecting your pet from fleas and ticks is easier than ever before thanks to there now being countless products that repel one or both of these parasites. Many pet owners choose to buy combination preventatives which offer greater value for money and mean that you only need to apply a single treatment.
Some of the types of preventatives that you can choose from include:
Oral medications. A chewable pill that is taken approximately once every 30 days that can be hidden in your pet’s food.
Spot-on treatment. This is a medication that is placed onto the skin at the back of your pet’s neck so that they can’t lick it off. Most spot-on treatments will work for around 30 days before another dose is required; some more modern preparations last longer than that.
Home products. There are a variety of products that you can buy that will help repel fleas and ticks from areas within your home, including sprays. You should also make sure that you vacuum regularly as this will help to eliminate fleas at all stages of their lifecycle.
Check your pet when they come in from outside. Ticks live in long grasses and wooded areas and attach to animals by clinging on to them when they pass by. If your pet goes outside, even if just for a short walk, we recommend that you check them for any signs of ticks when they come back in. They are usually found burrowed deep into the fur against your pet’s skin and are grey, brown or black in color and around the size of a pin-head. Their bodies will swell with blood the longer they are on your pet. If you spot a tick, you should remove it right away by grasping it by the body and pulling straight out from the skin. DO NOT attempt to burn or salt a tick off of the skin.
For more tips on preparing for flea and tick season, please speak to our veterinary team at Border Animal Hospital by calling (956) 968-3858 today!