Protecting Your Pet from these Pesky Parasites            

With fall in full swing, your pet is at risk from those annoying pests that love to bite.  While many parasites can harm your pet, the top three on this list are fleas, ticks and mosquitos.  All of them feed on the blood of animals, causing discomfort and resulting in the spread of disease.  The good news is many diseases can be avoided if you are diligent about providing appropriate preventatives before those nuisances have a chance to bite. Every few years, new preventatives are developed.   Each has its own unique way of protecting pets.  The multitude of topical, chewable and tablet forms of preventions can leave pet parents confused.   Some thwart flea infestations, some kill fleas and ticks, others prevent heartworm disease.  Go over the options with Dr. Chapman.  Ask for advice.  Your vet knows your pet and any allergies or illness which might make one product more desirable.  Before discussing products, let’s learn a bit about those pesky parasites. Perhaps the best known is the flea. The female can only lay eggs after a blood meal in which she can drink up to 15 times her own weight.  She begins laying up to 50 eggs a day within 36 to 48 hours of feeding.  These eggs make up about 50 percent of an infestation in a home. The eggs hatch to the larvae stage in a few days to a few weeks depending on temperature. The third stage is the pupae stage lasting, if necessary, up to 155 days without feeding.  These two stages make up 45% of an infestation.  This cocoon (pupae) stage is the most difficult to kill.  Eventually the adult flea emerges from the cocoon.  Adult fleas make up only 5% of an infestation. Adult fleas jump on your pet and bite in an effort to feed.  The cycle continues.  Imagine one or perhaps hundreds of fleas biting and the discomfort that causes.    One of the most common skin diseases in pets is known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis.   As the flea bites, its saliva gets in the wound area.  When an animal is hypersensitive, histamines are released by the immune system.  This causes a red, itchy bump to form at the site of the bite.  FAD symptoms include scratching, digging, hair loss, and scabs.  This can lead to a skin infection, leaving your pet suffering in pain.  The good news is this is preventable. I have heard people say “My cat never goes outdoors so I do not worry about fleas”.  In fact, a pet does not have to go outside to be exposed to a flea.  Fleas can jump on our shoes, socks and slacks as we walk near grassy areas.  Humans unwittingly bring fleas inside where they jump onto the carpet, furniture, and eventually make their way to the dog or cat.  If you see one flea, there are probably hundreds more you don’t see.  The adults lay their eggs, which then fall off into carpeting, hardwood flooring, furniture, and bedding.  The eggs go through the cycle eventually becoming adults that jump back on to the pet.   Once fleas have taken up residence, it can take up to three months or more of diligent treatment to get rid of them.  Not only does the pet need treatment, the home will need special care as well.   The easiest way to avoid any infestation is to keep all of your pets on prevention all year long. The next pest is the tick, a nasty arachnid that feeds on the blood of animals and humans.    In our area, the deer tick, with its two-year life cycle, can transmit debilitating and sometimes life-threatening Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses once it has taken a blood meal and engorged on its host.  If you spot a tick engorged on your pet, it is best to let your pet’s veterinarian remove it.   The improper use of tweezers can cause the head to break off under the skin causing swelling and infection. Dr. Chapman recommends annual testing for Lyme and other tick borne iseases. He has seen a significant increase in positive tests. Left untreated, Lyme Disease can cause long term, progressive illness that can eventually lead to joint pain and injury, kidney failure as well as other debilitating symptoms.  Our practice carries Bravecto, a flea/tick chewable that lasts for 3 months as well as Nexard, a chewable that lasts for one month.  For cats we carry topicals Nexgard Plus, and Revolution Plus..   He will know which option is best for your pet.  For you dog family member, please discuss Lyme vaccination as a second layer of prevention. Our last insect is the mosquito, whose bite can transmit heartworm disease to dogs and in rarer cases cats..This type of worm lives in the heart and in the surrounding blood vessels. It is not found in the pet’s stool.  Symptoms of the disease are coughing and lethargy.   Once the heart is infected with the worms, the treatment can be very costly.   If the disease is left untreated, the pet may die. Heartworm disease is easy to prevent.  Your veterinarian can run a simple blood test (4DX tests for Lyme, other tickborne diseases and Heartworm in one test that takes 10 minutes for results) to make sure your dog is not infected. Then discuss the best protection for your pet.  We carry heartworm preventatives Heartgard Plus, Interceptor Plus and Sentinel Spectrum and the topical Revolution. We also offer an injection of Proheart6 given by Dr. Chapman which is more convenient as it works for six months.  Discuss all options with Dr. Chapman and choose the best protection for your pet family. This article is for educational and entertainment purposes only and Union City Pet Hospital does not endorse any specific product.  As with medications, although side effects are very rare, they can occur.  The reader should consult a licensed veterinarian for any medical or pharmacological information.



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