There is nothing better than the weather come spring in Sacramento; unfortunately, the bugs think so, too. Just as soon as we are ready to grill, go camping, or do yard work, do we find ourselves fretting about the insect world. And for good reason. Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can be the bane of time spent outside.
But these pesky ones can also be harbingers of disease and illness, as well as infestation, when they are able to thrive. Learn more about these parasites and ways you can keep you and your furry one protected.
The Tiny Flea
The flea is a small, flightless insect that is a part of the order Siphonaptera. Fleas transmit illness through their bite. They feed on warm-blooded hosts, which includes the family pet. Fleas may be small, but they are one of the most prevalent carriers of disease across the world. And once you have them, the infestation is hard to get rid of without resorting to chemicals.
Fleas can cause Cat Scratch Fever, Bartonellosis, plague, flea-transmitted tapeworm, tungiasis, a tropical ailment that is caused by a specific type of flea that burrows into the skin, and typhus.
Fleas are also responsible for flea-bite allergies, which are quite common in dogs. This form of allergic reaction can lead to skin conditions and infection.
The Trouble with Ticks
Tick-borne diseases are something we hear about often because of the long term health problems associated with them. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and canine ehrlichiosis are an unfortunate problem we face as ticks remain active throughout the warmer winters. Some of the diseases carried by ticks can be transferred to humans, such as Lyme.
Ticks are actually tiny arachnids, rather than insects. They, like fleas, feed off a host animal. Ticks appear as small dark multi-leg spiders, but when attached and feeding, they balloon up to 5 times their normal size.
Ticks are prevalent in heavily wooded areas and hide in the fur, usually behind the neck, under the ears and tail, in the groin and armpits, and at the base of the tail.
You probably don’t need an introduction to how bad the mosquitoes can be in our area. Mosquitoes carry diseases to humans, cats, dogs, horses, and other animals. Mosquitoes thrive in warm, wet environments, but due to the increasingly unpredictable winter weather patterns, they exist year-round in most regions.
The most common disease carried by mosquitoes to cats and dogs is heartworm disease.
They do this by way of a bite, which contains miniscule larvae. The larvae enter into the bloodstream and begin to develop into adult worms in the heart and lungs. The entire process takes about 3-4 months, while the heartworms then continue to reproduce.
Heartworms are dangerous to pets because the signs or symptoms sometimes aren’t there until a pet suddenly becomes very ill or dies (more likely in cats). Heartworm in dogs can be treated, and surgery may be required, making it a costly and painful disease to treat.
The Importance of Prevention
Preventing disease in pets requires vigilance and an understanding of how parasites cause harm. Many pet owners make the mistake of assuming that their pets are safe because they are indoor only, or parasites are only a seasonal problem. In fact, many parasites, including mosquitoes, can thrive throughout the winter and it only takes one bite to transmit a disease.
To better protect your pet from fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes…
- Keep your pet on a year-round parasite preventive program, including heartworm
- Have your pet screened for internal and external parasites annually during their wellness examination
- Inspect your pet after returning from outdoor activities, looking for ticks and other parasites
- Keep yards trimmed and weeded to minimize the presence of parasites and wild animals who carry parasites
Would you like more information on fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes? Your team at East Sacramento Veterinary Center is here to keep you and your pet from being bugged out this season. Please contact us for an appointment.