It looks as if winter has finally lost it’s grip here in New England. Of course I am sure we will still see some chilly days and rainy mornings before the warm and sunny weather really sets in. After a very long, cold and snowy winter in most of the US it is difficult to contemplate the issues that accompany the warm weather when it comes to our pets. So here is a reminder before we get too complacent with the balmy days of spring and summer. Though many dogs and cats spend the majority of time inside the house there are still risks to be aware of that are much more likely to be prevalent now that we have thawed out.
One of nearly everyone’s most disliked insect pest, ticks can be potentially serious given the diseases that they carry. The most common in the Northeast is Lyme disease yet recently we have seen a major surge in a disease known as Anaplasmosis. Both of these conditions affect humans as well as animals so remember to take precautions both for your pets and yourselves. Ticks are as likely to hitch a ride on us as they are on our pets. Even though you may have indoor only pets, rarely does a season pass that someone isn’t shocked to find an engorged tick on an indoor cat. Though it may not be necessary to put preventative treatments on low risk pets, remember to take any and all precautions for yourselves when you venture outside. Long sleeves, long pants and clothing that is tightly bound at the extremities is helpful to prevent you from being the object of a ticks “affection”.
Most pet owners have had to deal with these ancient creatures at one time or another. Happily the old days of dips, shampoos, sprays and foggers have all but left us. In this more modern era these messy and somewhat toxic methods have been replaced primarily by “spot ons”. These are the topical medications most of us are familiar with such as Advantage, Frontline and Revolution that are placed along the head, neck and back of our cats and dogs. They are highly affected when used properly. However we frequently will see very ill pets (namely cats) where a medication was inappropriately used. Canine medications used on cats will frequently cause serious illness even death in some instances. Always be aware of the product you are using. A recommendation by your vet is a safe way to pursue parasite control in your pet companions. Remember fleas carry diseases such as bartonella (cat scratch disease) and tapeworms, both of which have human health implications.
The above describes what are commonly referred to as ectoparasites. We have now entered the heart of the tick season in New England. Though the fleas season has not yet arrived it is just around the corner. If you have discontinued your ectoparasite prevention program during the cold of this past winter it is time to start it up again. Remember it is always easier to prevent parasites than to eradicate them once your pets is infested. Your pet companions will thank you for that.