Spring is here and along with the increasing warmth comes discomfort in the form of fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks. It doesn’t matter whether you live in town or out in the country these creepy crawlers summer plans include feasting on your pet. No wonder flea, tick, and heartworm prevention are a hot topic among pet owners and of course all of us here at Animal Family.

Unfortunately, parasites can bring more than just discomfort. They can cause serious illness in your pet as well as health risks for your family. These illnesses can include:

  • Heartworm Disease – transmitted by infected mosquitoes
  • Mycoplasmosis – a disease which attacks red blood cells and causes anemia
  • Lyme disease – targets joints and the kidneys
  • Ehrlichiosis – can cause anemia, stiffness and general unthriftiness.
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever – can cause, fever, lethargy, swelling, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Tick paralysis – self explanatory
  • Tularemia – can cause fever, lethargy, jaundice, loss of appetite, ulcers on the tongue.
  • Tapeworms – weight loss, diarrhea and can be shared with you
  • The Plague – yep, the plague

Keeping Fleas and Ticks at Bay

Methods for reducing flea and tick populations in and around your home include:

  • When returning from a hike or time spent outdoors, carefully inspect yourself and your dog for rogue travelers, such as ticks
  • Remove weeds, tall grasses, and overgrown areas from the yard
  • Keep your pets well-groomed and check their skin and coats weekly for signs of flea infection, such as red or raw skin and those little tell-tale black specks that turn red when you add water and signal flea droppings.
  • Vacuum carpets and upholstery regularly and wash all pet beds and blankets on a weekly basis
  • Keep up on your flea and tick preventatives.  Nobody wants fleas and ticks on their furniture or bedding let alone their pets.

Heartworm Prevention

Heartworm disease can bring heartbreak for many pet owners, as treatment is both risky and expensive.  Transmitted through a mosquito bite, heartworms compromise the heart, lungs, and blood vessels and can result in lasting damage to the organs or sudden death.

In dogs, symptoms can include fatigue, persistent cough, and loss of appetite. You may not know it but heartworm disease, although much less prevalent,  can occur in cats too.

Fortunately, the disease is preventable through the use of a year-round preventive. Please call us to have your pet screened for heartworm infection and to start a preventative to help safeguard him or her from this potentially life-threatening disease.

Some methods you can use to prevent mosquitos around the yard and home include:

  • Remove sources of standing water as they are breeding grounds for mosquitoes
  • Reinforce or repair all window and door screens that are loose or torn
  • Avoid going outdoors evenings and mornings with your pet
  • Bats are wonderful mosquito deterrents, so consider encouraging bats to feed on the mosquitos in your yard by installing bat boxes (really!)
  • Lavender and citronella candles also repel mosquitos (just be sure to keep the candles out of your dog’s reach)
  • Keep your pet on monthly Heartworm preventative.  This is easily some of the best money you will spend on your pet.  Heartworm preventatives prevent intestinal parasites from compromising your pet’s health as well. It’s a winning combination!

Spring has sprung and the bugs are out! But, with a few simple steps and preventive veterinary care for your pet, you and your best friend can enjoy the spring and summer bite-free.