In order to ensure the well-being of our pets and ourselves, it is important to be educated on the best preventive and treatment options available to ensure everyone’s health and happiness.
Excessive scratching may be the first sign that your pet has an annoying flea problem. But it may also indicate a larger health issue. Fleas can cause a wide range of diseases that deprive your pet of energy, cause sores and affect overall health.
1.) Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD): Symptoms include excessive biting or scratching around
the tail, groin, backside, neck or back regions and scabs or bumps may develop.
2.) Anemia: Symptoms include pale gums, weakness and lethargy.
3.) Tapeworm: Symptoms include intense anal itching (scooting) or tapeworm segments (small, white, and rice-like) around the anal area or in the feces.
4.) Rickettsiosis: A disease caused by a rickettsial bacteria infection passed to humans by infected cats, which may or may not have clinical signs. Symptoms in humans include headache, fever, chills, skin rash, skin lesion, stupor, myalgia (muscle pain), joint pain, regional adenopathy (enlarged/swollen lymph nodes), and gastrointestinal symptoms.
5.) Cat Scratch Disease/Fever or Feline Bartonella: A disease caused by bartonella bacteria. Again, there are very few symptoms in cats if any, but the disease can be passed on to people through cat scratches, bites, or exposure to cat saliva. Human symptoms include bump or blister at the infection site, fatigue, fever, headache, enlarged/swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, overall discomfort, enlarged spleen (less common), loss of appetite, and weight loss.
How To Check For Fleas:
When checking for fleas, look for black specks (flea dirt) on your pet or on its bed. There are two easy ways to do this:
Step 1: Run a metal comb (available from your vet or pet store) through your pet's coat making sure that you touch the skin below. If the comb gathers black specks you may have found flea dirt.
Step 2: Place a white paper towel beneath your pet and rub your hands across its fur. If black specks fall on the towel, it may be flea dirt.
If you find live fleas with either of these methods, drown them in soapy water before they can jump back on your pet.
Ticks can transmit diseases that threaten your pet's life, and this is why prevention must be taken seriously.
1.) Lyme disease: Humans and dogs are infected when Borrelia bacteria, found in deer ticks, enters into their bloodstream. Symptoms include lameness, fever, loss of appetite, fatigue and enlarged lymph nodes. Lyme disease is the most common disease cause by ticks.
2.) Babesiosis: A disease that is transmitted to animals and humans by ticks infected with the Bebesia sp. Parasite. If infected, bebesia can cause coma and/or death if left untreated. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite and anemia.
3.) Ehrlichiosis: A disease transmitted to dogs by the Ehrlichia organism (between bacteria and viruses) found in the Lone Star Tick and the Brown Dog Tick. Symptoms Include fever, depression, lameness and loss of appetite. Ehrlichia can remain alive in the developing tick for up to 5 months; in other words, a tick infected in the fall can infect a dog the following spring. Ehrlichiosis symptoms are sometimes confused with those caused by rocky mountain spotted fever (see below).
4.) Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever:Another serious and deadly disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSP), is cause by the bacteria Rickettsia found in the Dog, Wood, and Lone Star Ticks. The disease can be transmitted to both humans and animals. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, coughing, bruising, lameness, depression, vomiting and diarrhea. Infects dogs and people.
How To Check For Ticks
Check your pet thoroughly every day to eliminate the serious risk for disease by incorporating it into your daily pet care routine. As you brush, pet and play with your cat or dog, pay special attention to the head, neck and paws, these are the areas where ticks prefer to attach themselves.
It is possible that you may feel a tick bump before you see the tick, but once detected, contact your local veterinarian for treatment. DO NOT attempt to remove a tick if you lack experience and knowledge about doing so. If done incorrectly, you can leave the head or other parts of the body behind embedded in the skin. Failure to remove the tick means failure to eliminate the threat of disease. For those experienced in removing ticks, remember to slowly extract the tick using tweezers, not your hands, save it in a bottle and bring it to your local veterinarian so that they can determine the species.
Flea and Tick Prevention
Animals that have exposure to areas or situations favorable to flea or tick populations are at risk for passing disease onto humans. Some disease symptoms are not visible, and while most diseases caused by fleas and ticks are treatable with antibiotics, simple and effective preventative measures used on a monthly basis can eliminate the risk to both humans and animals when used routinely. Thus, the important reason to use preventative measures with our pets that go outside or are frequently exposed to other animals.
Preventative treatments for fleas and ticks include monthly topical and/or oral doses of:
1.) Frontline Plus: Kills fleas and ticks on your dog or cat and prevents re-infestation. kills 100% of adult fleas on your pet within 18 hours and 100% of all ticks within 48 hours. Contains an insect growth regulator, S-methoprene, which kills flea eggs and larvae. (Topical use on Cats and Dogs)
2.) K-9 Advantix: Offers more comprehensive protection because it repels and kills fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Stops biting fleas within three to five minutes and kills 98-100 percent within 12 hours. (Topical use on Dogs Only)
3.) Advantage: Flea preventative only, does not kill ticks. (Topical use on Cats and Dogs)
4.) Revolution: Protects your pet from heartworms, fleas, and ear mites. Protects dogs from ticks and sarcoptic mange, and protects cats from roundworms and hookworms. (Topical use on Cats and Dogs. Prescription Needed.)
5.) Sentinel: Guards against heartworms, adult roundworms, adult hookworms and whipworms, and prevents the development of flea eggs. (Oral use in Dogs. Prescription Needed.)
6.) Capstar: Begins woking within 30 minutes to kill fleas on dogs and cats. Capstar will kill more than 90% of adult fleas within 4 hours on dogs and 6 hours on cats. Pets may temporarily scratch as a result of the fleas dying. (Oral use in Cats and Dogs)
7.) Program: Inhibits/prevents the development of flea eggs, but does not kill adult fleas. Program is safe and effective in preventing and controlling flea populations. Use along with Capstar for a complete flea management program. (Oral use in Cats and Dogs)
8.) Program Oral Suspension: Controls fleas in cats by inhibiting/preventing the development of flea eggs, but does not kill adult fleas. Program oral suspension is safe and effective in preventing and controlling flea populations and most often combined with Capstar for a complete flea management program that kills adult fleas. (Oral use in Cats Only)
9.) Preventic Tick Collar: kills and detaches ticks, but does not kill or control flea populations. As long as your pet is wearing the collar, prevention lasts for up to three months. Collars also prevent new ticks from attaching and feeding within 48 hours after application. (Use on Dogs Only)
Mosquitoes carry diseases transmissible to humans, as well as several diseases and parasites that dogs, cats and horses are very susceptible to. Simple and easy preventative measures used on a monthly or yearly basis can reduce and/or eliminate the risk to animals when used routinely.
1.) Heartworm: A life-threatening disease caused by a roundworm transmitted through the bite of a mosquito carrying the larvae of the worm. Heartworm disease is dependent on both the mammal and the mosquito to fulfill its lifecycle. If the worms have infected an unsuitable host such as a human, the worms usually die. The disease in dogs and cats cannot be eliminated but it can be controlled or prevented with pills and/or injections.
Stage 1: The young worms (called microfilaria) circulate in the blood stream of the dog and must infect a mosquito in order to complete their lifecycle. Mosquitoes become infected when they blood feed on the sick dog.
Stage 2: Once inside the mosquito the microfilaria leave the gut of the mosquito and live in the body of the insect, where they develop for 2-3 weeks. After transforming twice in one mosquito the third stage infective larvae move to the mosquito's mouthparts, where they will be able to infect an animal.
Stage 3: When the mosquito blood feeds, the infective larvae are deposited on the surface of the animals skin. The larvae enter the skin through the wound caused by the mosquito bite. The worms burrow into the skin where they remain for 3-4 months.
Most dogs and cats with heartworm infection do not show any symptoms until the disease becomes severe. At that stage, symptoms may include difficulty breathing, coughing, tiredness, reduced appetite and weight loss, vomiting and gagging (usually only in cats), lung, liver, kidney, or heart failure, leading to death
2.) Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE): A mosquito-borne disease transmitted to humans and horses through a mosquito bite. Symptoms may or may not be visible and include fever, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, and lethargy. Within two to four days, the illness may progress into disorientation, irritability, seizures, and coma.
There is no treatment for WEE, however, there is a vaccine available for horses to prevent western equine encephalitis. Please contact your local equine veterinarian for vaccine information and other preventative recommendations.
3.) Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE): A mosquito-borne disease transmitted to humans and horses through a mosquito bite. Symptoms may or may not be visible and include fever, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, and lethargy. Within two to four days, the illness may progress into disorientation, irritability, seizures, and coma.
There is no treatment for EEE, however, there is a vaccine available for horses to prevent western equine encephalitis. Please contact your local equine veterinarian for vaccine information and other preventative recommendations.
4.) West Nile Virus (WNV): A mosquito-borne disease transmitted to humans and horses through mosquito bite. The disease causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include Stumbling or tripping, Muscle weakness or twitching, Partial paralysis, Loss of appetite, Depression or lethargy, Head pressing or tilt, Impaired vision, Wandering or circling, Inability to swallow, Inability to stand up, Fever, Convulsions, Coma, and Death
There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus, therefore, good mosquito control, and routine vaccinations are needed for the prevention of disease caused by the West Nile virus. Please contact your local equine veterinarian for vaccine information and other preventative recommendations.
Mosquito-Borne Disease Prevention (Small Animal)
1.) HeartGard Plus:A real-beef chewable tablet for dogs that provides protection against heartworms (Ivermectin - a broad-spectrum antiparasitic medication used to prevent heartworms). HeartGard Plus also treats and controls roundworms and hookworms (Pyrantel Pamoate - an anthelminthic, used to prevent roundworms and hookworms). (Oral use in Dogs Only. Prescription Needed.)
2.) HeartGard: Chewable tablet used to prevent heartworms by eliminating the tissue stage of heartworm larvae for a month after infection. (Oral use in Dogs and Cats. Prescription Needed.)
3.) Revolution: Protects your pet from heartworms, fleas, and ear mites. Protects dogs from ticks and sarcoptic mange, and protects cats from roundworms and hookworms. (Topical use on Cats and Dogs. Prescription Needed.)
4.) Sentinel: Guards against heartworms, adult roundworms, adult hookworms and whipworms, and prevents the development of flea eggs. (Oral use in Dogs. Prescription Needed.)
*Please note that routine veterinary care is needed to keep pets strong and healthy. Monthy, yearly or bi-annual screening is needed to ensure a clean bill of health. Heartworm testing should be done on a yearly basis for small animals in order to obtain prescription preventatives.
Mosquito-Borne Disease Control/Prevention (Equine)
- Keep horses stabled during dawn and dusk, when
mosquitoes are most active
- Turn off lights that attract mosquitoes at night
- Use fluorescent lights, which do not attract mosquitoes
- Keep screens in stable windows
- Eliminate common mosquito breeding areas
like shallow stagnant water and puddles
- Empty water collecting in buckets, tarps or tires
- Clean water troughs once a week
- Use mosquito repellent
*Specific equine vaccination prevention and disease screening should be discussed with your local veterinarian to ensure the best preventative measures.