Due to the torrential rain we have experienced in North Texas this summer, there have been vast increases in the populations of fleas and mosquitoes. These tiny pests are not only annoying to us and our pets, but can also be dangerous.
Adult fleas infest pets commonly. Not only can this cause severely aggravating itching, but it can also lead to more severe problems. Adult fleas feed off of your pet’s blood, and severe infestations may lead to anemia.
Eating a flea may also cause your pet to become infected with tapeworms. Some animals are actually allergic to fleas, and the bite of a single flea will lead them to severe scratching, biting, hair loss, and self mutilation.
In addition, fleas may also bite any humans in the vicinity.
If unsure that your pet has fleas, look for signs like itching or “flea dirt,” which looks like coffee grounds against the pet’s skin. One flea on your pet means that there are far more in the environment. Only the adult form of the flea lives on your pet – the eggs and larval stages all exist in the environment.
Flea prevention is best achieved with products from your veterinarian, such as Advantage or Frontline. Over the counter products are also available, but are not as strong as prescription products, often do not last an entire month, and can actually make your pet sick.
Mosquitoes are among the most annoying of all insects: they also present the greatest health risk for cats and dogs. Mosquitoes are carriers for heartworms, which means that a mosquito’s bite also directly transmits the larval form of the heartworm into the victim’s blood stream.
Adult heartworms live in the dog’s heart, as well as the pulmonary vessels. The blockage and structural damage that they cause within the heart and pulmonary vessels directly lead to congestive heart failure and serious pulmonary lesions.
Because Texas is one of the most severely affected states in the country, dogs should be tested for heartworms annually to ensure their continued health and because early detection of an infection may help prevent further damage to the pet’s heart and lungs. Dogs that are early in the infection show no clinical signs at all. All dogs, whether they are primarily outdoors or indoors, should be kept on heartworm prevention year-round. Veterinary products such as Heartgard are the safest and strongest for your pet. Remember, prevention is far easier for your dog and cheaper for you than treatment!!