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Our Blog: February is National Pet Dental Health Month



What a winter we have had, or should I say, didn't have?!? It is time to address the subject of fleas and ticks. In this part of the country we can talk about this year round. It just doesn't get cold enough or for long enough to slow these blood thirsty insects down. The harmful effects of fleas and ticks can reach far beyond severe discomfort. Both fleas and ticks can carry serious diseases that are dangerous to both you and your pet.


Fleas

Other than itchiness, fleas can cause numerous health problems to a pet. Fleas can carry tapeworm larvae, which a pet can ingest and pass in its feces. Fleas can also carry the organism Bartonella henselae, which is one of the causes of “cat-scratch” disease in humans. Many pets are allergic to flea bites which, in as little as a single bite, initiate an intense allergic reaction, or flea bite dermatitis (infection of the skin).

Ticks

Ticks can be harmful in small or large numbers. They can transmit serious diseases to both animals and humans. Such diseases are: Lyme disease, Ehrlichia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These parasites can also present specific problems when they attach to a sensitive location, such as the ear or eye.


Signs of Infestation

Even if you have never physically seen a flea or tick on your pet, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. In pets with a darker colored coat, it can often be difficult to see these parasites. Other signs of flea or tick infestation on a pet are scratching, irritated skin, or pepper-like debris (flea feces, aka dried blood) in the pet’s coats. Another indicator that there is a flea or tick problem is if the you find a tick or small bites on yourself. Don't be fooled; cats who never go outside can still get fleas and dogs who just briefly go outdoors for bathrooms breaks are also at risk. It takes no time for a flea to catch a ride in the dog's coat, on our pant legs, or shoes.

Don't be careless by skipping flea, tick and heartworm preventive use in the "winter months". In our part of Missouri, it doesn't get cold enough for long enough to kill off these parasites. Ticks hide under leaf litter and come out on warmer days in search of a blood meal. They thrive in this part of the country. Fleas are no different, they present themselves during the winter months and once inside your home and on your pet, they will reproduce quickly. It is much easier and more cost effective to prevent the infestation that try to be rid of them later.


Flea and Tick Preventive

Thankfully there are a variety of flea and tick preventives available. There are topical products and oral products. Most of these products are given every 30 days. Among these products are NexGard, Revolution and Simparica. We have other products available through our online pharmacy.

It is crucial that products designed for dogs not be applied to cats and vice versa. The use of over-the-counter products on your pet can be less safe and less effective for some pets. Please call our office or stop by and we can answers any questions you might have. If you need help each month remembering to give the preventative to your pet; let us know and we will add you to our monthly reminder call list.



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