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Your pet may have fleas and ticks and you probably don’t know it

In our area, almost all cats and dogs are exposed to fleas if they are not on a monthly preventative. A common misconception is that a pet does not have fleas if you don’t see them. You may not know your pet has fleas until their number increases to the point that your pet is obviously uncomfortable. Fleas bite animals and suck their blood; young or small pets with heavy flea infestations may become anemic. Some pets can develop an allergy to flea saliva, resulting in more severe irritation and scratching. It only takes one or two bites to become severely itchy. Pets can become infected with certain types of tapeworms if they ingest fleas carrying tapeworm eggs. While fleas are capable of transmitting several infectious diseases to pets and people, this is rare.  Your veterinarian will recommend an appropriate flea control plan for your pet based on your pet’s needs and the severity of the flea infestation.

Our local foothills and mountains play host to ticks year round. Ticks are most often found around your dog’s neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and the body, and in between the toes, but they can be found anywhere on the body and are usually easily seen or felt.  Cats may have ticks on their neck or face.  Tick bites can cause skin irritation and heavy infestations can cause anemia in pets.  An adult female tick can ingest up to 100 times her weight in blood! Ticks are capable of spreading serious infectious diseases, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, to the pets and people on which they feed.  They can also cause tick paralysis.  Disease risk varies by geographic area and tick species.  

Prompt removal of ticks is very important because it lessens the chance of disease transmission from the tick to your pet.  Pets at risk for ticks should be treated during the tick season with an appropriate preventative.

  • Look for fleas, ticks and coat abnormalities when you groom your pet, and after returning home from areas likely to have higher numbers of these parasite. 
  • Consult your veterinarian if your pet excessively scratches, chews or licks his/her coat, shakes head or scratches ears.
  • Prompt treatment of parasites lessens your pet’s discomfort, decreases the chances of disease transmission and may reduce home infestation. Consult your veterinarian before you begin treatment.
  • All pets should be treated to break the cycle of parasites from moving from one pet to another.
  • Be especially careful when applying insecticides to cats; they can be particularly sensitive to products. NEVER use a product not approved or labeled for cats. Results could be lethal.
  • Leave treatment to the experts. Your veterinarian offers technical expertise and can assist you in identifying products most likely to effectively and safely control your pet’s parasite problem.

-Dr. Kelly Anez, DVM, is a veterinarian at Pacific Crest Companion Animal, 2500 E. Myer Ave. in Exeter. For questions, call her at 559-592-4753.
– This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.

 

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