Believe it or not, Spring is right around the corner! We know that with Spring comes nicer weather and gorgeous flowers; but did you know that it also brings out the pests too? Fleas and ticks are "yucky and gross", but more importantly, they can be dangerous for your pet's health. Both fleas and ticks can carry serious disease that can affect both you and your pet. Thankfully, today there are a variety of products available that can help ensure safety from these pesky parasites!
The Circus is Coming to Town!
Flea circuses were a major carnival attraction until 1930 and persisted in very small venue's in the US until the 1960's. Live fleas were put into thin, gold wire harnesses and attached to props. Because of their strong rear legs and jumping habits, they were able to move objects significantly larger than themselves. (Wikipedia)
Not only can fleas jump up to 7 inches vertically and 13 inches horizontally, they can also suck up to 15 times their body weight in blood every day! Many pets are allergic to flea bites causing a single bite to initiate an intense allergic reaction called flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). Fleas can carry tapeworm larvae, which a pet can ingest and pass in its feces. Fleas can also carry the organism, Bartonella henselae, which is one of the causes of "cat-scratch fever" in humans.
Even if you have never physically seen a flea on your pet, it doesn't mean they aren't there. Fleas can come into your home on shoes and clothing, so even indoor-only cats can be susceptible to a flea infestation. Other signs of a flea infestation are scratching, irritated skin, or pepper-like debris we call "flea dirt" (flea feces) in your pet's fur. Another indicator would be if you were finding small bites on yourself.
On a Quest!
Ticks can't fly or jump. Instead, they rest in a position known as questing. While questing, ticks hold on to leaves and grasses by their lower legs. They hold their upper pair of legs outstretched, waiting for a passing host they can climb aboard.
Once they hitch a ride on you or your pet, they will find a comfy place and insert their delicate mouthparts through the skin to feast on blood. Ticks DO NOT burrow under the skin. They can transmit serious diseases to both animals and humans. Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are a few of the tickborne diseases seen in Massachusetts.
Ticks can take 3 or more days to fully feed. If the tick is infected, the chance of transmission increases with time. If a tick remains attached for 96 hours the chance of transmission is 94%!
When removing a tick, you should try to prevent direct contact with the potentially infected tick. Wear gloves or use tweezers and grasp its body, taking care not to squeeze and pull straight away from your pet's (or your) body. It is NOT the end of the world to leave behind some mouthparts if you have to. The most important thing is to detach the tick (its stomach is where the bacteria come from) as soon as you can.
Why allow your pets to suffer when there's an easy solution? Or why wait until you've got a full-blown infestation? Your pet depends on you to protect them against fleas and ticks. The veterinarians at the Animal Hospital of Orleans strongly recommend year-round prevention for fleas, ticks, and heartworm (next month's topic!).
We have just what your pets need to prevent those pesky pests from becoming a real problem. Right now we are offering the following:
Advantix (dogs) and Advantage Multi (cats): Apply every 30 days
Buy a 4-pack get 1 dose free
Buy a 6-pack get 2 doses free
Seresto Collar (cats and dogs): Apply every 8 months
$15 mail-in rebate
Seresto Collar AND 6-pack Advantage Multi:
$50 mail-in rebate
Frontline (cats and dogs): Apply every 30 days
Buy 3-pack get 1 dose free
Buy 6-pack get 2 doses free
In summary, as with all other diseases, prevention is always better than treatment and less expensive!