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It’s that time of year when we start seeing more and more cases of the creepy crawlies. While irritating to both pets and their owners, parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can also cause devastating diseases. Prevention and protection are your best bet when it comes to these pesky pests.
Fleas are amazingly adaptive and resilient, and they can make a home almost anywhere. With an incredibly fast reproduction rate, a small and unnoticed flea problem can turn into a full-blown infestation in a matter of weeks. Fleas are Olympic athletes and can jump incredibly far relative to their body size, which is typically how they will find new hosts. This means that your flea-free companion can pick up a flea or two just by walking by another dog in the park or by sunbathing on the porch where an infested critter has been. Fleas not only infest your pet, but your home, yard, and family as well.
Symptoms of a flea infestation usually start with scratching and skin biting. Fleas feed on your pets’ blood and the bite, along with their saliva, creates a very irritating situation. Fleas of every stage (egg, larva, pupa, and adult) are visible to the naked eye, and you should check your pet frequently for any signs of fleas. Flea droppings are another sure sign of infestation and resemble dirt particles or ground pepper. Fleas and their “dirt” often hang out at the base of the back, near the tail, between the shoulder blades, and around the neck. Fleas often carry tapeworms and can pass them along to you and your pet if they are ingested. If adult fleas are present, you can guarantee that fleas of every stage of their life cycle are now in your home. Treatment for flea infestations typically involves not only treating your pet but their whole environment as well, including your home and outdoor space.
Ticks are another pesky parasite that can wreak havoc with just one bite. One common tick species known as Deer ticks are notorious carriers of Lyme disease that can not only infect your pet but you as well. Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that travels the bloodstream affecting different organs, joints, and overall wellness. Although symptoms of Lyme can vary, affected pets typically present with fever, loss of appetite, reduced energy, stiffness, and swollen joints. If left untreated, Lyme can progress into kidney failure, serious cardiac issues, or neurological effects that can result in death. Treatment for Lyme disease typically involves heavy doses of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Mosquitoes are annoying to every living creature but can be a serious threat to our pets. Mosquitoes can carry heartworm larvae, a type of nematode (or roundworm) that enters your pets’ bloodstream when they are bitten. The larvae travel through the bloodstream until they reach the heart and lungs. Here, they begin to mature, reproduce, and start causing trouble. Dogs, cats, and ferrets have all been found to be at risk for the disease, but symptoms and treatments vary among the three. While less susceptible to heartworm, cats can contract the disease (even indoor cats). Unfortunately, surgery to remove heartworm infestations in cats is the only treatment. Dogs are at the highest risk for heartworms and treatments can be invasive and extensive. Less severe infestations can be treated with a series of injections, oral medications, hospitalization, and very strict bedrest, while more severe infestations might require surgery.
Treating parasites and the diseases they cause can be extremely expensive, time-consuming, and uncomfortable for you and your pet. We love our pets and every pet owners’ goal is to keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible. Stopping infestations before they can even start with monthly preventatives is an essential part of reaching that goal. With Gehrman Animal Hospital, you can easily refill your monthly preventative prescription though our innovative online pharmacy for safe, secure, and easy shopping. To get your pet protected with monthly preventatives and find out which option is best for you, give us a call at 952-545-9161 to schedule an appointment today!