Summer and warm weather means that everyone is spending a lot more time outdoors, including your pets. Make sure they’re protected from two major pests that are much more active in summer, fleas and ticks.
I’ll start with fleas, because let’s face it, they’re everywhere. If you see one, you should know you’re only seeing part of the problem. Adult fleas live about 50 days, but during that time they’re also laying eggs, creating a lifecycle that can be pain in your pet’s tail – and elsewhere on their bodies. If you notice your dog is scratching more than usual, it could be your first indication that fleas are there. But it’s more than annoying, it could lead to other issues that have an overall affect on you’re pet’s health.
Some of the diseases that could result from flea infestation could include:
Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) – your pet may be scratching or biting excessively around its tail, groin, backside and neck, which can lead to large sores, scabs and bumps.
Tapeworm – If you see your pet scooting along the floor, it may be from intense anal itching or tapeworms around the anal area or in the feces.
Anemia – Your pet is sapped of energy, is weak, lethargic or have gums that are pale.
Rickettsiosis – Your cat may hide the symptoms, but it’s a disease that can be spread to humans.
Cat Scratch disease – Another problem where your cat may not show symptoms but it can easily be spread to you.
Of course, the best thing you can do is make sure your pet is up-to-date on all medications. Annual flea and tick treatments should already be a part of your routine. Check your pet regularly for fleas. Yes, they’re hard to see and they’re fast little buggers. But look for black specks (flea dirt) on both your pet and where it sleeps. Or try placing a wet paper towel underneath your pet as you rub your hands through its fur… if you see black specks, you may have fleas.
Fleas are hard to get rid of and can be expensive if you have to call the exterminator, so make sure you ask your vet about which flea treatment is right for your pet. Also, vacuum a little more often in the summer, wash their beds, blankets and toys they frequently use, and make sure your yard is well maintained. Fleas love grass and leaves, so make sure your yard is mowed and clippings and leaves are raked.
Ticks are beastly little things, the vampires of the insect world. They can be small and hard to spot, but can transmit dangerous diseases that are life-threatening. Some of these and their symptoms include:
Lyme disease – The most widely known, can be treated by antibiotics. If your pet seems tired more than usual, is lame, has a fever or is not eating, these could be symptoms that indicate your pet needs treatment.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever – Fever, lameness, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and coughing.
Ehrlichiosis – Fever, lameness, depression, lack of appetite.
Babesiosis – a very serious disease that could cause coma or even death. Symptoms include fever, anemia and loss of appetite.
Again, your first step is annual treatments. But you should thoroughly check your pet each day, particularly around the head, neck and paws. These are the tick’s favorite spots. Removing a tick should be done carefully with tweezers, slowly pulling the tick out. It’s a good idea to save the tick in something so you can bring it in when you have your pet treated; we’ll be able to determine the species of tick and more easily determine how to best treat the situation.
Summer is a great time for all, but we have to make sure we protect our pets from the annoying pests that can make them suffer.