It’s finally Spring, and we know you and your pets can’t wait to get outside and run around in all that sunshine! Your pets just love being outside – playing fetch, going for hikes, rolling in the grass. They haven’t got a care in the world. However, as evolved and educated pet parents, we know there are some very important things to worry about: fleas & ticks and the diseases they can carry.
These Springtime pests like to hide out and wait for your furry family members to pass by so they can hop on and start wreaking havoc. So, what do you need to know to keep your pets safe?
Fleas have four stages in their life cycle: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adulthood. Each of these stages come with their own risks – eggs fall into your carpets, upholstery and yards; larvae seek out dark areas in your home to hide; pupae grow in cocoons for up to 9 days before emerging; adult fleas jump onto your pet and bite!
Speaking of jumping, fleas might be tiny but they are seriously strong. They can jump 4-5 FEET horizontally and up to a foot vertically!
Did you know that one single adult flea can bite your poor dog or cat up to 400 times A DAY? Ouch! Most pets have allergic reactions to flea bites and will start scratching at their fur and skin like crazy.
Fleas multiply faster than you think – each female flea can lay 40-50 eggs each day! With numbers like that, infestations can happen quickly if you aren’t prepared.
Some common flea-borne diseases include:
Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), though not a disease per se, this severe skin irritation sends many concerned pet parents and their furry kids to the vet. Some symptoms of it are severe itching, skin irritation, and papules (small inflamed bumps not filled with pus).
Anemia, an imbalance in the circulatory system, can be caused if your pet is attacked by too many fleas. Young pets plagued with fleas are particularly prone to iron-deficiency anemia.
Tapeworms can be transmitted to your pet through fleas if your pet is lucky enough to catch and eat a contaminated flea that’s pestering the pet. The tapeworm can hatch in your pet’s intestines and attach itself, and can cause vomiting and weight loss.
Cat Scratch Disease, though not a problem for your cat, can be a problem for you and the other humans your cat allows in the house.
If fleas weren’t enough for you to worry about, ticks are just as bad, if not worse! These little blood-suckers start as eggs that hatch into six-legged larvae. These larvae attach to their first host, usually a small rodent-type animal, feed, fall off, molt into nymphs and attach to a larger host. Once the nymph feeds and falls off its host, it molts one last time into an adult tick. This is the tick that lays in wait for your sweet, unsuspecting dog or cat to walk by.
And if you thought fleas multiplied quickly, one female tick can lay up to 3,000 eggs in her lifetime!
If you find a tick on your pet, after safely removing it, there are a few things to be on the lookout for:
Anaplasmosis, symptoms of which show up 10 to 14 days after the animal is infected, and can cause fever, depression, and lethargy. Your pet may be reluctant to move, weak or lame, and could have gastrointestinal and respiratory problems.
Babesiosis usually takes 1 to 3 weeks to appear, although symptoms may occur sooner. It starts with fever, decreased appetite, anemia, an enlarged spleen, and possibly brown urine. The pet may also vomit, faint, swell, develop bleeding in the skin and mucous membrane, and if severe enough, can have central nervous disorders.
Lyme Disease is another tick-borne ailment, and one you may have heard more about. It can take weeks to months to appear. One symptom is lameness that occurs in one leg for 3 or 4 days, then shows up in other legs at 2 to 4 week intervals. Other signs include fever, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes, and just a general discomfort in your pet.
Since these symptoms can take up to several months after finding the tick to present themselves, be sure to keep an eye on your pets even after you’ve removed the stubborn little parasite!
While complete prevention is ideal, check out the next post in this series to learn about our favorite flea and tick prevention and removal products.
by Pam Hair and Kate Bagliani