Now that it’s finally spring, fleas and ticks are out in even greater number. It’s important for all pet owners to understand these parasites as well as the symptoms they transmit. Although these parasites can be annoying and even deadly, taking a proactive approach to parasite management will ensure they don’t harm your pet.
Symptoms of Fleas in Companion Animals
Fleas are wingless creatures that can survive for up to 12 weeks. Although they are microscopic in size and usually not visible to the human eye, fleas can jump as high as two feet. They attach to your dog or cat because they can’t survive for long or reproduce without a living host. The following symptoms are common indications of a flea infestation:
- Sneezing, watery eyes, or a runny nose
- Licking, biting, or scratching more than usual
- The appearance of sand grains or dark specks in your pet’s fur
- The appearance of tiny white eggs in your pet’s feces
- Patches of missing fur
- Scabs or hot spots
- Pale appearance to the gums
Fleas continually reproduce after locating a living host. They can store blood at a rate that’s 15 times the weight of their own body, which puts your pet at risk of anemia from the blood loss. If your dog or cat is already prone to allergies, he could develop allergic flea dermatitis due to flea infestation. This can cause serious health complications.
A Tick Bite Can Be a Death Sentence
Ticks typically live in bushes, trees, and grass. Unfortunately, this makes it easy for them to land on your pet’s body without you knowing it. A tick is a parasite that requires blood from its host for survival. Although ticks are larger than fleas, you probably won’t notice one on your pet until it has become engorged with her blood. This is called the incubation period. During this time, your dog or cat could develop tick paralysis, Lyme disease, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It’s important to check your pet for ticks daily so you can remove one before it has the chance to inflict such damage.
The most common symptoms of a tick bite include appetite loss, fever, swelling, arthritis, and general lethargy. The exact symptoms often depend on which type of disease the tick has transmitted to your pet.
Do Your Part to Prevent Fleas and Ticks
Keeping your grass, trees, and bushes well-maintained in the warm weather months is essential to cut down on the tick population. It’s also a good idea to use a special flea comb on your pet daily. If your pet spends time outdoors, be sure to wash his bedding and toys in hot water once a week.
If you don’t already have your pet on year-round flea and tick control, we recommend that you start now. Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo would be happy to recommend a parasite prevention plan based on your pet’s lifestyle and other individual factors.
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