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 Know your pet's Preventable Threats

Dr. Christina Frick, DVM

 

Warm weather is when disease-carrying mosquitos, ticks and wildlife become active.  The risk of your pet encountering a disease-carrying vector is most likely to increase during this time.

 

Ticks and fleas can carry several disease that affect pets and people.  Tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, and Tularemia.  Mosquitos cause West Nile virus, Heartworms, and secondary skin infections.

 

We have had a relatively cool wet spring and fleas are hatching out everywhere in full force.  The common flea has had an impact on world history.  From the black plague during the 14th century to the present, fleas have been a tough problem….especially for pet owners.    Though we have not completely eliminated fleas, in the last few years science has made some tremendous advances in helping pets, and their owners, cope with these pesky parasites. 

 

The best approach to fleas is a three-step method:

 

  1. Pet's outside environment.  There are compounds that can be applied to the soil in moist, shady areas by shrubs, bushes and flower beds around the house where immature fleas are most likely to live.  You can not control the wildlife population that comes in your yard and leave those pesky fleas. 
  2. Pet' inside environment.  Frequent vacuuming and thoroughly washing any bedding your pet uses.  This will remove adult and immature fleas.  Be sure to empty the vacuum bag after every cleaning or else the fleas may hatch from the bag and re-infect the house.  There are also safe and effective compounds that can be applied to carpets when the flea problem persists.  Use sprays that will kill the immature stages.  Most sprays or foggers kill adult fleas, but do nothing for the eggs or larvae.  Fleas can molt into adults in 21 days.  Use sprays that contain Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) to prevent hatching.
  3. Address fleas on the pet.  In recent years, a number of products have been introduced that are truly among the most effective and important formulations in the war against fleas.  Fleas live and feed on dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, rats and mice.  Animals can have flea allergies, secondary bacterial infections from scratching, and tapeworm infections.  Young animals can have flea anemia.  Fleas can bite people causing severe skin irritation and itching.  Applying a flea preventative on ALL pets in the household and environment is the best prevention.  Be sure to continue pet treatment for at least 3 months to fully break the flea cycle.  Once a month applications to your pet from April to October will prevent any fleas on your pets this summer.                                                                                                Research shows flea collars DO NOT repel, interfere with reproduction or alter development of fleas.  Other research indicates that brewer's yeast, B-complex vitamins and sulfur products are ineffective as flea repellents.  Flea baths only kills off the fleas on the animal.  Flea shampoos have no residual action and once dry your pet WILL BE reinfested.  The topical spottons that are commonly seen in the discount and farm stores are not the best product available.  The active ingredient is pyrethrin and permectrins which is great for fly control but not for repelling fleas.  Also Permectrins are very toxic to cats and can be fatal.   

 

Talk with your veterinarian about which products are right for you, as different products have different benefits, all with the intent of eliminating the flea and tick problems and making life much easier for dogs and cats…..and their owners.

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