Spring is here! A welcome season after a winter that set new records for cold, ice, and simply bizarre weather patterns all across the nation. While those of us in snow country are thrilled to see the snow and ice disappear, and our pets likewise enjoy safely spending more time outdoors again, nasty critters lurk in greater quantities when warmer weather comes around once again in spring.
Pets and Pests
Fleas and ticks are potential concerns if we don’t properly protect our pets. Even though fleas and ticks can and do survive year-round, they are more active in warmer weather months and climates. In addition, mosquitoes arrive in warmer weather, and likewise become a concern for our pets’ health.
What Is the Danger?
Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes represent threats to our pets. These pests, plus intestinal parasites, can cause serious illnesses, diseases, and even death if we don’t properly protect our pets with preventative measures.
According to Dr. Perzak, DVM, these pests and parasites can cause the following problems for our cats and dogs:
- Fleas: Allergic skin disease or dermatitis, anemia, tapeworms, and other increasingly serious diseases.
- Mosquitoes: Heartworms.
- Ticks: Painful reactions to the tick bite itself at the site of attachment; and more serious diseases and reactions, such as Ehrlichia, often co-existing with Lyme disease; Lyme disease; and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
How Do We Protect Our Pets?
Veterinarians recommend preventative measures to best protect our pets from pests such as fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. In addition to using high quality products to deter or kill these pests and their eggs, vets also recommend washing pet bedding weekly, and vacuuming rugs or mats that our pets use.
While some vets recommend standard flea and tick protection in popular approved brand names, they caution against “copy cat” inferior brands that are potentially dangerous for our pets.
Other vets, such as Dr. Becker, DVM, recommend natural, non-toxic protection for our pets.
Flea and Tick Protection Options
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states it’s a personal decision as a pet owner to decide the best preventative product to use to protect your pet from fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, based on your vet’s recommendations and how well you know your own pet. Here are some options, along with important considerations for their use.
Flea and Tick Products with Chemicals
Pay attention to the following warnings:
- Don’t interchange products on dogs and cats.
- Use the proper dosage for your pet’s weight.
- Don’t split or combine dosages.
- Watch for signs of poisoning in your pet: salivating, skin irritation, dilated pupils, shivering or tremors, or vomiting.
Preventative measures incorporated in an overall “pet protection program” against pests include the following:
- Provide your pet with a balanced diet of appropriate food to ensure optimal health and prevent weakened, more susceptible conditions.
- Bathe, groom, and brush your pet regularly; use a flea comb, if necessary.
- Keep the indoor environment clean and pest-free: wash pet bedding, vacuum drapes and rugs, and change vacuum bags frequently.
- Maintain the outdoor environment: keep grass cut, rake and dispose of leaves, and remove standing water.