Heartworms, Fleas, Ticks……..They’re Here Now!

While we have all been complaining about the spring weather that just didn’t seem to want to show up, thoughts of fleas, ticks and the diseases they carry have very much been in the background. Of course there have been some occasional pockets of these nasty little pests but by in large we have gotten away with a March (very cold), April (very warm but often dry) and early May (cold and nasty) that have kept the insect population at bay. Well, things have now changed. Today it is in the mid 70’s, tomorrow the mid 80’s and Thursday perhaps 90. Even though it is a dry weather pattern, there is plenty of moisture around in the form of ponds that are overflowing, creeks and streams that are running and standing puddles in many areas that seem to be going nowhere. All of these factors are a perfect storm for ticks, fleas and mosquitoes to reap the benefit.

To recap what many of you already know, heartworm is a threat from mosquitoes so any increase in this population enhances the risk for your dog and cat. Fleas are the vector of transport for Bartonella, the bacteria that causes Cat Scratch Disease in people, a potentially serious disease. Bartonella can also affect dogs although they don’t seem to be as much at risk as cats. However, we have recently seen two cases of liver disease that we suspect were made more serious by co-infection with Bartonella. Lastly, ticks are always a risk for transmitting Lyme Disease to pets. More recently, as I have written in this blog, Anaplasmosis has become a substantial threat for dogs. This bacteria, also carried by ticks, can cause a variety of illnesses. In more recent months we actually diagnose Anaplasmosis in dogs much more frequently than Lyme disease at a rate of nearly three cases of Anaplasmosis to every single case of Lyme Disease.

With the above in mind, make sure to start your flea, tick and heartworm control programs immediately, if you haven’t already. There are many safe and effective choices available including oral medications, topical medications, collars and even sprays depending upon your preference. If you are unsure what is best for your pet, feel free to contact us. The warm weather is finally here……delay no longer. Have a great second half of spring.