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Spring Means its Flea & Tick Season!

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Fleas and ticks are two of the most common parasites that affect our pets. Prevention is the best defense and easy to dispense to our furry friends.

Fleas

Fleas are wingless insects that feed on blood and can jump up to two feet high. Fleas are most commonly noticed on dogs’ abdomen and the base of the tail and head.

Things you’ll notice on your dog are:

  • Droppings or “flea dirt” in a dog’s coat
  • Flea eggs (tiny, white grains)
  • Allergic dermatitis
  • Excessive scratching, licking, or biting at the skin
  • Hair loss
  • Scabs and hot spots
  • Pale gums
  • Tapeworm

Symptoms on cats include:

  • Droppings or “flea dirt” in a cat’s fur
  • Flea eggs (tiny, white grains)
  • Itchy, irritated skin
  • Persistent scratching
  • Chewing or licking
  • Hair loss
  • Tapeworms
  • Pale lips and gums

Fleas are easily brought in from the outdoors and thrive in warm, humid temperatures. Fleas can cause anemia or a significant amount of blood loss in your pet over time if not treated. If you suspect your pet has fleas, contact your veterinarian immediately.

The best way to prevent fleas is to use a preventative product either through prescription or over the counter as recommended by the manufacturer. Check with your vet to see what the best option for your pet is.

Ticks

Ticks are a parasite that feed on the blood of a host animal. Ticks can transmit many diseases through their bite which can be very dangerous to our pets.

Most ticks are visible to the human eye, but not until after the swell with blood after they bite. Complications from a tick bite include:

  • Blood loss
  • Anemia
  • Tick paralysis
  • Skin irritation or infection
  • Lyme disease

Signs of Lyme disease include depression, swelling of the lymph nodes, loss of appetite, fever, swollen, painful joins, and kidney failure
With prompt, proper treatment, your pet’s condition can improve within 48 hours
Cytauxzoonosis
This is a lethal infection caused by tick bites

  • Signs include: high fever, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, jaundice, coma, and death
  • This is carried by bobcats and common in the South
  • It’s passed when a tick bites a bobcat and then bites a pet

You can remove a tick from your pet, but keep in mind any contact with the tick’s blood can potentially transmit infection to your pet or you.

If you see a tick, here are some steps to remove it according to the ASPCA

Prepare

  1. Put on latex or rubber gloves so you won’t have direct contact with the tick or your pet’s bite area.
  • Throwing a tick in the trash or flushing it down the toilet will not kill it, so prepare a screw-top jar containing rubbing alcohol to put a tick in after removal.
  • This also allows you to hold it for veterinary testing, if needed.
  • If possible, enlist someone to assist you by distracting and soothing your pet. Have them hold her still during removal.

2. Remove

  • Use a pair of tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the animal’s skin as possible.
  • Pull straight upwards with steady, even pressure and place the tick in your jar.
  • Do not twist or jerk the tick. This may leave the mouth part embedded in your pet or cause the trick to regurgitate infective fluids.
  • Do not squeeze or crush the body of the tick. Its fluids may contain infectious organisms.

3. Disinfect and Monitor

  • Disinfect the bite area and wash your hands with soap and water, even though you were wearing gloves.
  • Sterilize your tweezers with alcohol or by carefully running them over a flame.
  • Monitor the bite area over the next few weeks for any signs of localized infection, such as redness or inflammation.

If infection occurs, please bring your pet, and your jarred tick, to your veterinarian for evaluation.
Preventative medication is also key for helping avoid ticks in the spring and summer months. Many of the flea medications also kill ticks to prevent future infestation. Mowing your lawn regularly and removing tall weeds will help prevent ticks from being in your pets’ immediate vicinity and help protect them as well.

Source: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/fleas-and-ticks