March is Flea and Tick Prevention Month! Fleas and ticks are not just a nuisance, but pose serious health risks to both animals and humans. Some of the diseases that fleas and ticks can transmit to animals and humans include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Bartonellosis and others. Here in Georgia, we have fleas year round. Ticks can also be found in the winter months in the south. We recommend keeping your pet on flea and tick prevention during the entire year. It is critical that you protect your pet from these parasites for your pet’s health, as well as yours. Even if your pet does not go outside, fleas and ticks will come indoors and actually prefer it indoors. Fleas can live for as few as 13 days or as long as 12 months. They can produce up to 50 eggs a day! Fleas are most commonly noticed on pet’s abdomens, base of tail, and neck. Symptoms to look out for are scratching, licking, or biting at skin, hair loss, scabs or hot spots, droppings or “flea dirt” in the hair, flea eggs (tiny white grains), pale gums, tapeworms, and allergic dermatitis. Tapeworms are flat intestinal parasites that are made up of small segments. Tapeworms attach to the wall of the small intestines using hook-like mouthparts. The adult worms may reach up to 8 inches and break apart in segments when being shed. They appear like grains of rice or cucumber seeds. As the tapeworm segment dries, it becomes a golden color and eventually breaks open, releasing the fertilized eggs into the environment. The eggs are then swallowed by immature flea larvae. Once inside the larval flea, the tapeworm egg continues to develop as the flea matures into an adult. When a dog or cat bites at the fleas, they can ingest them and in return, ingest the tapeworms. In puppies, heavy tapeworm infestation can be more serious. Lack of growth, anemia and intestinal blockages can occur. Because fleas drink blood, they can also cause severe anemia in puppies and kittens. While you can’t get tapeworms from your dog, if you ingest an infected flea then you may become infected. A few cases have been reported in children. Some pets may be allergic to the fleas saliva which sets off an allergic reaction called allergic dermatitis. Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) or flea bite hypersensitivity is the most common dermatologic disease of domestic dogs and cats in the USA. When feeding, fleas inject saliva that contains a variety of histamine-like compounds. Pets can develop lesions from scratching and chewing so much. Some may even need a steroid to help with the itching. Fleas will also jump on humans and cause small red dots from biting. Eggs can drop out of your pets hair and onto rugs, beds, and get in crevices in floors. It is recommended to treat the home environment and in some cases, the yard as well. Ticks are another parasite that feed on blood and can transfer serious diseases. Ticks bury their head into a host’s skin when they bite and then gorge themselves on blood. While they prefer to attach close to the head, neck, ears and feet, they can be found anywhere on your pet’s body. Complications associated with ticks are anemia, tick paralysis, skin infection, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Bartonella. All are zoonotic diseases. Symptoms of Lyme disease are depression, swelling of the lymph nodes, loss of appetite, fever, kidney failure, and swollen or painful joints. Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever are lethargy, anorexia, blood in the urine or stool, difficulty with blood clotting, discolored spots on the skin, swollen lymph nodes, or inability to walk or stand normally. Symptoms of Bartonellosis are also discolored spots on the skin, difficulty with blood clotting, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, muscle pain, swollen or painful lymph nodes, and shivering. The best way to prevent these diseases is with prevention. For dogs, we offer a once a month chew, once a month topical, or three month chew. For cats, we offer a once a month topical or a three month topical. These will all kill live fleas and ticks as well as prevent any new infestations. If you have any questions or to get your pet started on flea and tick prevention, please call us at 706-629-5060 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mar 06 2019