Consistency Counts: Maintaining Flea and Tick Defense 365 Days a Year

dog scratching in fall.

We live in a “fix it” society, which means we typically only address problems when they happen. The problem with this is, of course, it’s typically more expensive to solve issues than prevent them from occurring. This is certainly the case with pets and the parasites that feed off them. Not only is it more cost-effective to establish and maintain year-round prevention, a consistent approach to parasites promotes overall health and wellness

Don’t They Die Off After Summer?

Despite popular opinion, parasites remain a threat to pet health all year long. Sure, some will die off after their numbers peak in summer. But because we don’t have long, freezing winters here, parasites never fully disappear. In other words, our temperate climate provides adequate food sources for parasites all year long. 

Your Pet Doesn’t Want Fleas

Fleas are terribly annoying and inconvenient, but they can also cause painful allergies, too. Many pets are allergic to flea saliva deposited on the skin at the bite site, which causes them to excessively scratch, bite, and lick the skin. Hair loss, bumpy skin, and secondary skin infections are common side effects of flea allergy dermatitis. Fleas can also infect their hosts with tapeworms, and cause anemia in some pets. 

Why Ticks Are Bad

Ticks spread Lyme disease, as well as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis. These illnesses can be difficult and costly to treat, and require ongoing veterinary care. Symptoms of these illnesses range from mild to severe, and some symptoms can be life-threatening. 

Ticks need about 36 hours to transmit disease to their host. Always inspect your pet after any time outside and fully remove ticks immediately.

When ticks latch onto a pet that is up to date on all of the vaccinations and parasite prevention medication, they will not be able to infect them—but they don’t die immediately. They could still take advantage of a blood meal before the medication kills them. Gross!

An Eye on Heartworms

A mosquito carrying baby heartworms, or microfilariae, can deposit these directly into their host’s bloodstream during feeding. Over time, the baby worms move to the heart, lungs, and surrounding arteries where they grow and reproduce. 

Heartworm disease is untreatable in cats. While there is a treatment for dogs, there’s no guarantee that the extent of damage caused by heartworms can be fixed. Coughing, lethargy, weight loss, and reluctance to exercise are common indicators that the disease is present. Heartworm disease can be fatal. 

Before a pet is given any preventive medication for heartworm disease, they will need to be screened. If a heartworm-positive pet receives a preventive, they could go into a shock-like state due to a massive die-off of the worms living off them. 

Are You Convinced?

Year-round flea and tick prevention is the best, and only, way to go. If you need further convincing, consider that your pet’s medication can also protect them from intestinal parasites, including tapeworms (as discussed above), hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, and more. Check out our wellness plans to see how we include and structure parasite prevention. 

If we can assist you with any questions about pet parasites, please call us at (916) 737-5670. Our staff is always here to help at East Sacramento Veterinary Center