As we welcome the warmer weathers of spring and summer, our dogs will be spending more time outdoors. The warmer weather also unfortunately welcomes parasites such as ticks and fleas that may cause harm and discomfort to your dogs. This means that tick and flea prevention is especially important at this time to protect our dogs and keep away nasty parasites.
Ticks and fleas are external parasites that can cause an array of problems. In the winter, ticks are dormant but can become active anytime the temperature goes above 0˚C. Depending on where you live, ticks can be active all year-round and tend to be found in wooded and tall, grassy areas. Similarly, fleas are usually most active in the spring and summer as well. However, fleas may be more difficult to get rid of due to the rapid lifecycle of these parasites. Using your pets as their host, they can also fall off to infest the carpets, floorboards and couches of your home. Both ticks and fleas find a great meal from biting onto their host and feeding on their blood!
Ticks are usually easier to locate as they are large enough to be seen and felt by owners. It is encouraged that owners thoroughly run their hands all over your dog’s body after going on walks. Ticks tend to latch onto dogs on areas such as their ears, neck and feet. When doing a quick brush through, if there is a tick it may feel like a small bump or wart, but with a closer look you may be able to see the legs of the tick. They may be tough to remove, as more disturbance can lead to them to bite deeper. Tick removers from the pet store are a great tool to use, but a quick visit to your veterinary clinic can be an option as well. Unfortunately, fleas are not as easily spotted. They are usually small brown spots that can be mistaken as specks of dirt! Some signs of fleas are constant itching or over-grooming in certain areas of the pet. Flea allergies can also result in red areas that may scab over from constant irritation.
Both ticks and fleas have potential to transmit diseases to their hosts. Tick-borne illnesses include Lyme disease, Ehrilichiosis and Anaplasmosis, and can cause serious health problems to our pets. Fleas, on the other hand, can transmit tapeworm to dogs if they are ingested by their host. Other diseases may include flea allergy dermatitis, as mentioned earlier, Bartonellosis or even anemia. No matter the disease, it is important to be proactive and protect our dogs from these parasites.
The best way to deal with ticks and fleas, is to prevent the start of the problem by using preventative products. There are various products that are available at your local veterinary clinic or even pet stores. Products include topical applications that act to repel ticks and fleas, or chewable tablets that can kill them off after they bite. The product you choose is up to you and your lifestyle. It is always best to consult with a veterinarian before purchasing products to see if they are right for your pet. Prevention should be given monthly throughout warmer seasons to be most effective.
Tick and fleas are a major problem that occurs every year as the weather gets warmer. Be proactive and avoid all the hassle that these parasites may bring. Take prevention monthly and enjoy the outdoors!