In addition to more sunshine and flowers, the warmer spring weather means more pesky parasites. Flea and tick populations will be increasing as the winter chill gives way to longer, warmer days. Pet owners should make sure their dogs and cats are protected against these parasites to preserve their health. Fleas and ticks can cause allergies, irritation and bacterial infections such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Babesiosis.
Just because you don’t see fleas doesn’t mean your pet isn’t at risk. Remember, only 5% of the flea’s life cycle is spent as an adult actually on your pet, while the remaining live in the environment around your pet. A single flea can lay hundreds of eggs in her lifetime, and the flea eggs fall off your pet spreading around your home in carpeting, cracks in the floor, pet bedding and any place your pet frequents. Because fleas multiply quickly, things can get out of control if nothing is done to prevent or treat the situation.
Ticks are not actually insects but are classified as arachnids, along with spiders. There are over 850 known types of ticks worldwide, but some of the ticks that commonly infect our pets here in the US are the brown dog tick, lone star tick, deer or black-legged tick, and American dog tick. Ticks are typically very small, about the size of a sesame seed and will appear brown or reddish-brown in color. Tick activity varies widely depending upon the abundance of available hosts and the vegetation in a specific area, with the highest concentration usually found in thickly vegetated areas. While dogs are the preferred host, ticks can feed off humans as well as pets. Once a few ticks are inside your home, the infestation can grow rapidly and the brown dog tick can actually complete its life cycle inside your home.
The best way to protect pets from the diseases ticks may carry is to make sure they are protected from external parasites every month, year round. By the time you notice fleas or ticks in your home, eradicating the infestation will be more difficult, take longer, and you will need to treat your home as well.