Spring Checklist for Pets
Heartworm is a serious parasitic disease transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. If a dog is found positive for heartworm, there is treatment available, unfortunately it is painful and expensive. Much more effective is the use of a preventative. Because the control of mosquitoes is difficult, a preventative treatment program is important. The first step is to stop by the office for a heartworm test to verify that no heartworms are already present. The doctor will then help you choose an appropriate prevention program.
Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick and can cause very serious health issues. If left untreated Lyme disease can potentially be life threatening. Due to the extremely high incidence of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases in our area, we highly recommend a three pronged approach for the protection of your pet’s health which includes: testing annually for Lyme disease (which can be done in just a few minutes here in the office), vaccinating for Lyme Disease and beginning a tick prevention program in very early spring continuing through early winter.
Fleas are more than just an itchy nuisance. They can spread tapeworms, and in cases where dogs and cats are allergic to the bites, just one flea can cause a very uncomfortable skin condition known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis. Bites or scratches from cats contaminated with flea dirt can cause Bartonellosis in humans, sometimes called cat scratch fever. Both topical and oral flea control products are available to kill fleas and disrupt their life cycle. We can help you choose the right product based on your pet’s and your family’s needs.
Getting fleas to flee and ticks to leave
There’s no shortage of flea and tick control products on the market– foggers, shampoos, collars, dips, spot-on treatments and oral preventatives. All are not created equal though, it is important to purchase your choice of products from your veterinarian or a source approved by your veterinarian. Many products that seem like a bargain simply do not work and have a higher rate of adverse reactions, costing you more in the long run. There are also herbal products that are quite effective if used consistently, sometimes daily depending on the circumstances.
The first thing to consider is the overall health and diet of your pet. Good nutrition along with plenty of exercise and fresh air are essential in building resistance to pests and diseases.
Regular bathing, grooming, combing with a flea comb and the use of repellants are very helpful in preventing flea infestations. If you already have a flea infestation, it is important to treat both your pet, your home and sometimes even the yard or premises to truly break the life cycle of the flea.
Wash the pet’s bedding in hot soapy water once a week and vacuum regularly, being sure to change the bag, outdoors and sealed in a garbage bag, after every use as the fleas can crawl back out of the vacuum bag ruining all your hard work. Steam cleaning your carpet is another effective way to kill flea eggs. You may also consider using borax or diatomaceous earth on carpets, hard floors and outside areas. These products dry the flea eggs and prevent them from hatching. Although diatomaceous earth is nontoxic, you should wear a mask when handling it and don’t allow your pet to breathe it. The tiny particles can be irritating to nasal and bronchial passages. DO NOT use the diatomaceous earth sold for swimming pool filters, as this is ground even more finely and can cause chronic lung inflammation. Borax, found in the laundry section of the grocery store, can be sprinkled on carpets and upholstery and left overnight. Keep pets and children clear of these areas and in the morning vacuum thoroughly.
Keep in mind that flea eggs are slippery and long-lived. Roll up bedding on the way to the washing machine, and when using a flea comb, keep a bowl of hot water on hand for drowning the little buggers. Vacuum in all the hard to reach places, and use a sheet for your pooch’s car rides that gets washed afterwards. Keep the lawn mowed short so the sunshine penetrates down to the soil. And most of all don’t get discouraged; your diligence will pay off. Remember, it can take up to 3 months to truly break the flea life cycle.