It’s that time of year again when fleas and ticks are most bothersome. They hike a ride into your home via your pet — or your clothes. Although you don’t notice the pesky bugs right away, soon fleas begin to lay eggs on your pet, which eventually end up in your carpets and on your furniture.
Surprisingly, in the U.S. there are more than 200 species of fleas. These pests prefer pets because their fur provides a good breeding habitat. The female flea can lay as many as 50 eggs a day, which can mature in as little as three weeks. The eggs hatch into larvae, which spin cocoons that grow into pupae and mature into adults. Fleas can be detected from the flea excrement they leave behind or “flea dirt” as it is often called.
It’s important to vacuum carpets and wash pets bedding often. Be sure to change the vacuum bag to prevent flea infestation there.
The dilemma with fleas is not only the itching that is caused from biting, it is also from the crawling over the pet’s skin. Fleas can also cause anemia in the pet and transmit tapeworms. Some animals are allergic to flea bites and this can cause inflammation and hair loss. Some popular flea remedies are Revolution, Advantage, Frontline, Trifexis and others available from a veterinarian. These products are administered once a month in order to kill fleas and to inhibit flea eggs from developing. There are other products available including foggers, sprays, dips, dusts, collars and powders. Flea shampoos help minimize flea infestation through bathing. When using flea and tick products, be sure to follow the directions closely as they can have adverse effects if used improperly. And NEVER EVER use dog products on cats.
There are about 200 species of ticks in the U.S. Although considered arachnids (similar to spiders), ticks can carry infectious organisms that transmit diseases to dogs and cats. The most well-known disease transmitted by ticks is Lyme disease. Ask a veterinarian about the Lyme disease vaccine, if your dog is outside. There is no vaccine for cats. Symptoms of Lyme disease include: appetite loss, lethargy, fever, swollen joints, lameness, itching and pain. If your pet experiences these symptoms, see a vet. If they have Lyme disease, they will require antibiotics. Check your pet (especially around the head and in the ears) regularly for ticks. Remove any ticks immediately with tweezers.
Flea control should begin with flea prevention. A veterinarian is an expert and can advise you on fleas and flea products for your pet. Don’t wait until your pet is hairless and your home is infested. Begin a flea and tick regiment today.
Pet of the Week
Diesel, soon to be 10 years old, is a mixed breed surrendered to Clay County Humane Society on Feb. 27. His elderly owner recently broke her back and is unable to continue to care for him. Full of energy and strong as an ox, Diesel is lively and vivacious. One of his favored greetings is a big pounce with his front paws landing on your hips. Diesel will get down when you tell him to, then proceed to wag his tail. He's a boisterous guy but the majority of the time, he is a friendly, playful, loving and affectionate fellow who loves to lean into you. He's a fair walker and knows sit, stay and shake. Diesel's adoption fee is $75 and helps cover the cost of his neuter, vaccinations, worming, monthly heart worm, flea and tick preventive, microchip and care while at the shelter in Brazil. Don't let Diesel's age give you pause. He's still running on a full tank. To meet him call 812-446-5126.