April showers bring much more than May flowers. Spring also brings an onslaught of parasites as the weather gets warmer.
Fleas and ticks are two of the many parasites than can cause diseases not only to our pets, but to us as well. Fleas are by far the most common external parasite of dogs and cats. The life span of a flea is 6-24 months over which time, they can lay hundreds of thousands of eggs and lead to an environmental infestation.
The fleas in the environment need a blood meal within 1-2 weeks of emerging from the larval stage. They obtain this blood meal from our pets or from us. The flea spends its entire adult life on the host and can survive for more than 3 months.
Significant flea infestations can cause anemia particularly in the very young or very small pet. Hypersensitivity or allergic reactions to flea bites happens in those who are allergic to the flea saliva. These pets (and people) get extremely itchy and can develop red, raised bumps or hives.
Fleas serve as an intermediate host for certain tapeworms. Animals and people can become infected with tapeworms by accidently ingesting an infected flea. Fleas also play a significant role in Cat Scratch Fever, as the cats that get flea feces around their claws can infect people by scratching them.
Many tick species can transmit diseases to domestic animals and people. Ticks attach securely to the host and effectively transmit diseases. Of these diseases, the most common in our area is Lyme disease. Other tick borne infections, some of which can also cause serious diseases in humans include, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Anaplasmosis.
Signs of Lyme disease include lameness, fever, and lethargy. Lyme disease can lead to fatal heart disease or fatal kidney disease making yearly screening and prevention key elements in keeping our pets healthy.
The most efficient way to avoid disease transmission from these insects/arachnids is to prevent them from feeding. There are numerous products on the market that effectively prevent fleas and ticks from successfully attaching and obtaining the necessary blood meal they need to transmit disease, and survive.
We, at Seven Fields Veterinary Hospital, will help you choose the product that is best for your pet. No single product is right for every situation. Please call us, or stop by, and we will gladly help you make the best choice for your four legged friends. Call Seven Fields Veterinary Hospital at 724-742-4433 or visit sevenfieldsvet.com.