It is said that April showers bring May flowers, but after near-record breaking rains along the Left Coast this winter, flowers aren’t the only beacon of spring and summer headed our way in the months to come. From Rancho Santa Margarita, CA to Bellevue, WA pet owners across the west and along the coast should be preparing for a heavier-than-usual influx of ticks and fleas.
At Wagly, we believe that year-round pet parasite prevention is a cornerstone of overall pet wellness. However, we also understand that many pet parents can (and do) let their pet’s regular course of parasite preventives lapse during the winter months. If you and your pet fall into this category, or if you’ve never explored the need for pet parasite control, now is the time to hop on the parasite prevention bandwagon. Here’s why…
Taking Control of Ticks
Ticks are one of the most common external parasites found on dogs and cats (among other mammals). These arachnid parasites are known as nature’s hitchhikers, as they tend to lay in wait on the tips of long grasses and low-slung branches, hoping to hop a ride (and catch a meal) on an unsuspecting warm-blooded creature that is passing by.
Once a tick has attached itself to its host (be it a dog, a deer, or a human), the parasite burrows its head into the epidermis of its prey and begins to feast on its blood. As if this isn’t bad (or gross) enough, there are a variety of tick-borne illnesses that these creatures may transmit to your pet during the feeding process.
Lyme disease is the most common illness associated with ticks. Commonly carried by the Deer Tick, Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that can infect dogs, cats, humans, and other warm-blooded creatures. Clinical signs of Lyme disease include:
- Depression and lethargy
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen and painful joints
- Eventual kidney failure
Lyme disease is most effectively treated with antibiotics and with prompt, proper treatment, your pet’s condition should start to improve within 48 hours.
Tick Check and Removal
Ticks can be found most anywhere outdoors, including your yard, the dog park, or anywhere you may hike or camp with your pet. If you and your four-legged friend have been out and about, please be vigilant about checking your pet (and yourself) for ticks at the end of the day.
Ticks may latch-on anywhere on your pet’s body, but will commonly be found around the scruff of the neck, the ears, the underbelly, and the “armpits”. If you do find a tick, you will need to remove it. To do so, you will need:
- A pair of hypo-allergenic gloves
- A set of tweezers
- Rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs
- A glass jar with a small amount of rubbing alcohol
Don the gloves and sterilize the affected area, using the cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol. Taking the tweezers, grasp the body of the tick and pull it straight out, being careful not to twist or turn the tick, as this may cause the body to pop off, leaving the head embedded in your pet’s skin (if this happens, please call us for next steps).
Once the tick has been removed, clean the area once again and drown the tick in the jar of alcohol. This is the most effective way to kill a tick. These creatures are built for survival and can even survive being flushed down the toilet! Likewise, we recommend not burning the parasite as a means of death, as the fumes can be noxious to both you and your pet.
Once your pet is tick-free, please call us for an appointment, as we will need to test your pet for signs of a tick-borne illness – this exam is included in your pet’s Wagly Health Membership.
Finally, keep in mind that it’s not just outdoor pets that are at risk when it comes to ticks. Ticks have been known to hitch a ride on the clothes or gear of an unsuspecting human, then find their meal on an even more unsuspecting indoor-only pet. Please do not assume that just because your pet doesn’t go outdoors that they do not need regular parasite preventives.
Fleas are the most common external parasite to plague companion animals. These wingless insects feast on blood as well, can jump up to two feet high, and are persistent in both outdoor and indoor environments.
Fleas thrive in warm, humid climates at temperatures of 65 to 80 degrees. Winter does not always kill fleas, especially in inland coastal regions, and many larvae can survive short periods of freezing temperatures as long as they are wrapped snugly in their cocoons.
Adult fleas spend most of their lives on their host animal, laying eggs in the fur. These eggs drop out onto rugs, upholstery, bedding and furniture, resulting in more fleas! These new adult fleas will, in turn, find their living host (either human or animal), and the cycle will continue.
A female flea will lay her eggs within 35 to 48 hours of its first blood meal, and will lay at least 20 eggs a day, half of which will likely be female. Should the cycle be allowed to continue, this spawning can eventually produce about 20,000 new fleas in 60 days! Fleas can live for as few as 13 days or as long as 12 months; and during that time, can produce millions of offspring.
Some pets have heightened sensitivity to the saliva of fleas, which can cause an allergic reaction known as flea allergy dermatitis, which can cause terrible itching in your pet, as well as other dermatological symptoms, such as hot spots.
In addition to preventive medicines, you can protect your pet from fleas by keeping your property clear of debris piles (a favorite outdoor breeding ground), and keeping your carpets, furniture, upholstery, and bedding clean and vacuumed on a regular basis. If a flea infestation does occur, you will need to treat both your pet and your home environment.
Wagly Pet Campus’ Can Help with Pet Parasite Prevention
We at Wagly cannot stress enough the importance of protecting your pet against parasites year-round, and especially in the coming months – this season is going to be a doozy! To incentivize its importance, Wagly Pet Campus’ are offering a 20% discount on all 6– and 12-month supply packs of parasite preventives for pets, now through June 30, 2019.
Please don’t delay in protecting your pet against fleas and ticks this season. Should you have any questions regarding prescription parasite control, please don’t hesitate to consult with the veterinary team at your nearest Wagly Pet Campus. Likewise, if you do encounter a tick on your pet or experience a flea infestation, please contact us for next steps and to schedule an appointment for follow-up veterinary care.