Formidable Foes: Best Practices For Protecting Pets From Parasites

Happy little dog smilingThe mere mention of bed bugs, head lice, or tapeworms can send any level-headed human into a paranoid frenzy. Likewise, fleas and ticks deserve a strong reaction – and your pet could be at risk this coming spring and summer.

These blood-sucking freeloaders are about to wake up from winter’s slumber, and neither fleas nor ticks discriminate on who provides the next meal. Wellesley-Natick Veterinary Hospital cares about protecting pets from parasites, and hope our preventative practices help you in the coming months.

Understanding Fleas

Fleas are wingless insects that jump from host to host. Of the nearly 3,000 different types of fleas found worldwide, the cat flea is the most common culprit among domestic dogs and cats.

It’s a challenge to discern what is worse: the fact that fleas have a needle-like mouth with which to quickly suck blood, or how swiftly they multiply. Indeed, a single female can lay 30-50 eggs at a time. These larvae hatch in carpet, upholstery, and other warm areas and then spin a cocoon to change into pupae. In less than a week, an adult flea emerges from the cocoon and searches for an initial blood meal.

Ticks Fundamentals

Ticks sense heat and carbon monoxide coming from approaching prey and wait to hitch a ride via strong hooks on the front legs. Members of the arachnid family, various ticks can live for up to an entire year without a meal. When the warmer weather amps up, a single female tick can lay up to 3,000 eggs.

Protecting Pets From Parasites

While it’s certainly disconcerting to find your pet with a tick burrowed into the skin, or fleas having a hay day within his or her coat, it’s far worse to consider that both parasites have the potential to spread illness and disease.

Flea allergy dermatitis results in severe itching and inflammation and can cause damaged skin and secondary bacterial or fungal infections.

Ticks are famously the harbingers of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Lyme disease. Protecting pets from parasites should include recognizing the signs of illness, and the symptoms related to Lyme disease are:

  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Inappetance
  • Muscle soreness
  • Joint stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Renal failure

Best Practices

It’s crucial to scrutinize your pet’s coat, skin, ears, and paws after any time spent outdoors – even rolling around in your backyard can yield fleas or ticks. Keep your property free of weeds, refuse, and long grass to keep parasites at paw’s length. Vacuum daily and launder your pet’s bedding several times a week.

While there isn’t a current Lyme disease vaccination for cats, dogs can be innoculated against it and we’re happy to discuss this with you at your pet’s next wellness visit.

An element of your preventative care tactics may include the administration of certain topical or oral parasite medications. Because a puppy or kitten has different needs than an adult or senior pet, we can help you find the right product for your pet’s breed, weight, and age.

Protection and Prevention

Fleas and ticks can really ruin an otherwise glorious spring and summer. Our team is here in full support of your pet’s health and wellbeing. Please give us a call or request an appointment to learn more about protecting your pet from parasites.