Fleas can cause problems for pets ranging from minor to life-threatening disease. Not only can these parasites cause severe itching, irritation, and allergies, but they can also transmit tapeworms and parasitic infections as well and blood borne diseases that have zoonotic potential. Fleas can infest dogs, cats, ferrets, mice, and rats. And fleas don’t just stay on pets; they can bite people, too. For more information, contact us or see the flea article in the Pet Health Library on our site.
You don’t want these blood-sucking parasites on your pet or in your home. We can help keep them away or help you get rid of them if they’ve already found their way inside.
Call us to find out how to eliminate and control fleas or to start your pet on a preventive today.
When they bite, mosquitoes can transmit heartworm infection. And those heartworms can wreak havoc on your dog or cat. These parasites can severely and sometimes fatally damage the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Some pets may not show any signs of infection; in those that do, symptoms can vary widely.
In dogs, signs of heartworm disease can range from coughing, fatigue, and weight loss to difficulty breathing and a swollen abdomen (caused by fluid accumulation from heart failure). Canine heartworm infection can also lead to a life-threatening complication called “caval syndrome” (a form of liver failure); without prompt surgical intervention, this condition usually causes death.
Ticks are skin parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts. Ticks like motion, warm temperatures from body heat, and the carbon dioxide exhaled by mammals, which is why they are attracted to such hosts as dogs, cats, rodents, rabbits, cattle, small mammals, etc. The bite itself is not usually painful, but the parasite can transmit diseases and cause tick paralysis, which is why tick control is so important. (Removing the ticks leads to rapid improvement of the paralysis.)
The minimal amount of time it takes for an attached tick to transmit disease is not known. The time it takes to transmit diseases is affected by the type of disease organism, the species of tick, etc. However, in general, if a tick is removed within 16 hours, the risk of disease transmission is considered to be very low. Therefore, owners can usually prevent disease transmission to their pets by following a regular schedule to look for and remove ticks.
Tick Life Cycle
Most types of ticks require three hosts during a two-year lifespan. Each tick stage requires a blood meal before it can reach the next stage. Hard ticks have four life stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Larvae and nymphs must feed before they detach and molt. Adult female ticks can engorge, increasing their weight by more than 100 fold. After detaching, an adult female tick can lay approximately 3,000 eggs.
During the egg-laying stage, ticks lay eggs in secluded areas with dense vegetation. The eggs hatch within two weeks. Some species of ticks lay 100 eggs at a time, others lay 3,000 to 6,000 per batch. Once the eggs hatch, the ticks are in the larval stage, during which time the larvae move into grass and search for their first blood meal. At this stage, they will attach themselves for several days to their first host, usually a bird or rodent, and then fall onto the ground. The nymph stage begins after the first blood meal is completed. Nymphs remain inactive during winter and start moving again in spring. Nymphs find a host, usually a rodent, pet, or human. Nymphs are generally about the size of a freckle. After this blood meal, ticks fall off the host and move into the adult stage. Throughout the autumn, male and female adults find a host, which is again usually a rodent, pet, or human. The adult female feeds for 8 to 12 days. The female mates while still attached to her host. Both ticks fall off, and the males die. The female remains inactive through the winter and in the spring lays her eggs in a secluded place. If adults cannot find a host animal in the fall, they can survive in leaf litter until the spring.
Keep ticks off your pet by keeping your dog or cat on a tick preventive. Even indoor-only pets are at risk because ticks can hitch a ride inside on your clothing or shoes. Tick preventives are safe and effective at controlling ticks and the diseases they carry. Call us to get your pet protected today!
Don’t panic if you find a tick on your dog or cat, even if your pet is on a preventive. Some preventives kill ticks after they’ve come in contact with your pet. Ticks can hide under your pet’s fur, so as an added measure of protection, we recommend checking your pet for ticks every time your pet comes in from outside. And don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you might have.