Fleas and Ticks in Dogs and Cats
Fleas and ticks are nasty skin parasites that are most prevalent in the spring, summer, and fall. Fleas can cause intense itching & allergic reactions with rashes. Often, secondary bacterial skin infections can develop due to the scratching and self-trauma. Fleas take blood meals from your pet and severe infestations can cause a significant anemia, especially in small puppies or kittens. Your pet can also get tapeworms from ingesting fleas while grooming themselves and trying to stop the nasty critters from biting him/her. Once fleas are established on your pet and in your home, they can be extremely difficult to get rid of. Ticks can carry a number of diseases present in our area which can be dangerous to your pet. These include Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Canine Ehrlichiosis and Infectious Canine Cyclic Thrombocytopenia (ICCT). The disease Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) can also be carried by ticks, but it is not seen in our geographic area. People can also get Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis or RMSF from a tick bite.
The specific tick that can spread Lyme's disease &/or Anaplasmosis is called the "deer tick". It is very small and may be hard to see under your pet's coat. Click on the following links for more deer tick info: deer tick info and pictures; deer tick ecology. The brown dog tick can carry bacteria that cause Canine Ehrlichiosis, cyclic thrombocytopenia, or RMSF. The American Dog Tick can carry RMSF. Click on: ticks that carry diseases for pictures of the different types of ticks and where they're found in the U.S. This CDC web site also has lots of info on diseases that people can get from tick bites & good advice on preventing ticks on you and your pet.
What do I do if I find a tick on my pet?
Click here for a link on how to safely remove a tick. We carry a special tick removal device available at our office for purchase called the "O-Tom Tick Twister?". It is a tweezers-like device that is used to help safely remove ticks from your pet without having to touch the tick.
Fortunately, there are a number of topical products that are very effective at preventing flea and tick infestations. Most products are applied monthly and will protect your pet against both fleas and ticks. Some of them are effective at repelling mosquitoes and killing mange mites. Some hold up better if your pet is in the water a lot. Please be careful to read all instructions carefully. Some flea & tick products are meant for dogs only- these can even be fatal if used on a cat.
Recently there have been an increasing number of consumer complaints about adverse reactions and even some deaths of pets due to use of spot-on flea and tick products. The EPA is in the process of reviewing the manufacturers label instructions and warnings to see if changes need to be made. Most of the problems have resulted from owners buying products on-line or over the counter and then not following the instructions on the product. Cats are especially sensitive to some chemicals- always make sure a product is specifically labeled for cats before using it on your feline friend. There are a lot of products out there. We can help you figure out the best one to use for your situation. We carry a variety of products and can instruct you in the proper use of anything purchased through the clinic. We can also review an over-all flea/tick control program based on your specific pet's needs. The goal is to keep your pet free of those nasty fleas and ticks to keep him/her happy and healthy!