Fleas and ticks are a nuisance to pets as well as their owners. However, most people do not realize what a large threat they pose. Luckily, they are easy to repel with a monthly preventative that also protects your pet against common intestinal parasites that may be transmitted by fleas.
Flea bites may cause Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), one of the most common skin allergies in dogs. Fleas also play a role in skin infections. Furthermore, ingested fleas can transmit tapeworms, a common intestinal parasite. Tapeworm infection is usually diagnosed when the white, mobile segments are seen crawling on your dog or in their stool. Tapeworms sometimes go undetected in a routine fecal examination. Because of this, veterinarians depend on the owner to notify them of possible tapeworm infection in the dog.
Flea control is very important in the management and prevention of tapeworm infection. Neglecting to provide monthly preventative treatment for your dog can lead to the infestation of their indoor and outdoor environments, which will then require treatment of those areas as well. Because the medication for treatment of tapeworm infection is so effective, return of the tapeworms is almost always caused by re-infection from the environment.
Ticks can cause problems such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Erlichiosis, Babesiosis and Tularemia. These diseases usually cause anemia, weight loss and fever. Because the symptoms are so vague, they are difficult to diagnose. In addition to vague symptoms, it takes the immune system two to three weeks to respond to an internal organism and to develop antibodies, making the state of the animal very critical at the time of diagnosis. Although these diseases are very severe and are complicated to diagnose, they are easily avoided by using oral or topical preventatives.
It is very important to know proper prevention methods for indoor/outdoor infestation as well as treatment in the event that indoor/outdoor infestation may occur.
Treating Indoor Environments
Even though fleas may be in your house, most people never see them. Fleas greatly prefer cats and dogs to people. They usually only infest humans when there has not been a cat or dog in the house for several days. A professional exterminator may be called to treat your house or you may use a house fogger or a long-lasting spray. These foggers and sprays are very effective for adult fleas, however they do not kill fleas that have not yet hatched. It is important to purchase a fogger or a spray that kills the adult fleas and inhibits development of the eggs and larvae. In climates with extended warm temperatures and high humidity, it may be necessary to treat two or three times with a 30-day residual product before all stages of the fleas are removed from the house. The second treatment is most effective if it is done two weeks after the first.
Another option is to treat your carpet with a flea-killing powder. The powder is non-toxic to people. It is worked deeply into the carpet to prevent it from being removed by vacuuming. This treatment has proven very successful, even in the face of heavy flea infestations.
Treating Outdoor Environments
Professional exterminators may perform yard control, or you may use various insecticides yourself. Be sure that any insecticide you use has a 30-day residual period, this will keep you from having to spray every week. In climates with extended warm temperatures and high humidity, it will often be necessary to treat monthly during the warm months of the year. Your veterinarian is able to help you choose the most effective product for your situation.
Ticks tend to like wooded areas and are found all over Flagstaff and the surrounding areas.
Although it is difficult to keep your pet completely away from fleas and ticks, it is very easy to keep them off of your pets. Products like Frontline and Nexgard will kill and prevent infestation of fleas and ticks. Both products are available for purchase at Westside Veterinary Clinic. FBN
By Dr. Chelsey Rae Calhoun