If you are a pet owner, then it is highly likely that you are aware of the threat that ectoparasites such as ticks, fleas, and mites play in the health of your pet. These parasites are some of the most common enemies of mammals all over the globe due to their versatility and wide host range. Pest prevention is a universally practiced field in the veterinary world and there are countless remedies for diseases and infections that these vermin cause, however, it is vital to know the signs and symptoms of these pests in order to halt the spread of any infection before it gets too serious.
Quite possibly one of the most efficient vectors in the biological world, ticks are blood sucking parasites that carry many diseases that are harmful to pets and humans. The more common diseases that they spread include Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Some of the lesser known, but still severe, diseases they spread include anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis. In humans, symptoms from these diseases include fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, nausea, and in severe cases, organ failure and death. In pets, similar symptoms arise, including arthritis, lack of appetite, fever, and exhaustion.
Ticks are most active during the spring, summer, and fall seasons, with most species going dormant in the winter, with the exception of certain adults. In the United States, ticks are most commonly found in the Southeast, Pacific Northwest, and the Northeast. Common ticks in the United States include the American Dog Tick, Brown Dog Tick, Lone Star Tick, and the Black-Legged Tick.
The lifecycle of ticks consists of four stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. In order for ticks to progress in their lifecycle, they must feed on blood from a different host at each stage of the cycle. When a tick seeks to attach itself to its prey, it uses its hind legs to cling on to branches, leaves, and other natural objects in the hopes of an animal brushing up against it, where it then attaches itself to the prey. If you have indoor pets or do not live near wooded areas, then ticks don’t pose much of a threat to you or your pet, but if your pet is outside often and you live near forested areas, then you should do a routine check of your pets for ticks.
Like ticks, fleas feed on the blood of mammals and have four stages to their life cycle. In the summertime, the flea lifecycle takes significantly less time to develop, as ideal temperatures (in Fahrenheit) for their survival are in the 70s and 80s. The first stage of the life cycle happens when the female flea lays her eggs in your pet’s fur. Over time the eggs will fall out and spread out in or near the environment that your pet lives in (especially carpet). Once the eggs hatch, the larvae stays hidden in carpet and furniture for several weeks where they feed on dry blood, flea feces, and pre-digested blood. The next step is the pupae phase, where the fleas become encased in cocoons where they remain dormant until a host is near. Once they rise from the cocoon, the flea must feed within several hours, where it will find a host and then repeat the life cycle process.
Symptoms that arise from flea bites include excessive scratching and biting, irritated skin, and hair loss. If you notice that your pet is exhibiting any of these behaviors there is a significant chance that they have fleas. If you notice that your pet is displaying these behaviors it is important to contact your veterinarian quickly because fleas can be a difficult species to rid from your home.
How to Avoid Ticks and Fleas
There are many steps that you can take to prevent these pests from making your pet their home sweet home. The following preventative steps are easy to incorporate:
- Bathing and grooming your pet on a regular basis
- Vacuuming and washing the sheets multiple times a month
- Keeping your lawn clean and cut – don’t let your grass overgrow
- Giving your pet pest medication provided by the vet that can reduce the chances of getting ticks and fleas
Dogwood Vet Can Cure Your Pest Problem Today
At Dogwood Vet, we have served countless patients who have brought their furry friends in for pest remedies. If you notice that your pet is exhibiting any of the symptoms that we listed above, then we highly recommend that you bring them in immediately so we can determine if they are victims of fleas or ticks. The sooner you catch these pests, the easier they will be to eradicate. Contact us today at (919) 942-6330 if you have any questions about pest remedies or would like to schedule an appointment for your pet.