Flees, Ticks, Mosquitoes, Oh My!

by Dr. Doug Pernikoff, DVM Tis the Season!!! Pets and pet owners are enjoying a beautiful, albeit, inconsistent spring time weather. Rain and warmth encourage the return of fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and lots of other bug critters. Dogs and cats, exploring our yards, pastures and woodlands, are frequently exposed to bites and all those terrible diseases that these insects carry somewhere inside their bodies.
Mosquitoes are most known for biting our pets in order to retrieve a blood meal. In doing so, their hypodermic like mouth part simultaneously injects immature, larval forms of the Heartworm parasite. The larvae circulates through their new dog hosts, as they mature into adult Heartworms that make a home in the right side of the heart and in large numbers, will infiltrate the vessels entering the lungs. The result, over years sometimes, is to compromise the function of the heart, resulting in formal heart failure in animals that have not been tested by your veterinarian annually, and who have not had regular monthly preventative medications that can prevent the infection in the first place. Aside from consequent heart disease, the treatment to rid your pet from heartworm, is potentially toxic to Fido. In this case, an ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure! And, by the way, cats can get Heartworm disease as well as dogs, just not as commonly tested for, or seen. Do the right thing and have your pets tested annually by your veterinarian, and be compliant with your preventative medications.

Fleas follow ticks in appearance each season. The most common problems seen with fleas on your cats and dogs have to do with skin irritation, scabs and infection called a miliary dermatitis, and in very young or otherwise ill animals, can cause anemia in large numbers.

When we think of spring-time, we typically think of ticks. They reside on the low growing foliage and grab a ride on our pets as they move through. Ticks plant themselves into the skin of our beloved pets and during the course of blood feeding meals, they also can transmit not less than 15 different diseases, many of which, if undetected and untreated, can even prove life threatening to our pets. We humans may be aware of some of these tick borne diseases as they can infect us as well. Lymes disease, Erlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia, are just a few of the more common diseases that may affect either humans or animals. It is always best to check your pets for ticks after they have been out and about during spring, summer and even early to mid fall in some settings. Visit with your veterinarian to learn how to remove ticks correctly, so you do not leave head parts embedded into your pets skin. They can cause local swellings representative of an inflammatory response and possibly, secondary bacterial infections.

My recommendation is to ALWAYS consult your veterinarian about the best preventative products to protect against fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. I encourage my clients to shy away from pet shop or online products as they may lack the same degree of standardization that you will find in preventatives at your vet clinic. More importantly, many manufacturers of these health products will not honor a product guarantee unless you acquire the product from a licensed vet. And today, we also find that many holistic veterinarians may offer alternative, natural products to ward off the onslaught of these predatory insects. Again, stick to the schedule of treatment as directed by your vet and in turn, you will keep your pets happy and free from nasty diseases.
Enjoy your spring time.

Dr. Doug Pernikoff and Staff
Clarkson-Wilson Veterinary Clinic & Veterinary Pet Rescue(VPR)

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