Dogs can be a target for many different parasitic diseases no matter where they call home. Topical flea and tick control play a vital role in the prevention of most of these canine parasitic diseases.
After any outdoor activity, carefully inspect your pet for any signs of these parasites.
Let’s face it. Fleas are a nuisance not only to pet owners but they are especially a pest to our beloved pets. The itching, scratching, and constant chewing that goes along with it is irritating as well.
It is hard to notice any fleas on animals with black fur so one trick to check for fleas on our pets is to place them on a table with a few white paper towels underneath them and take a flea comb or any type comb and start combing their fur.
If you notice any little grains of black dirt, then there are fleas around. You can also check their bedding for any of the grainy black specks.
The black specks of dirt you see is actually flea poop. On animals with white fur fleas are of course very easily seen. The specks of black dirt can also be seen easily. Flea poop turns red when water hits it.
Even though fleas spend most of their life cycle off of our pets, they still pose a health threat to them since fleas love to hop on dogs and cats and camp out there.
The life cycle of fleas begins with the eggs, which turn to larvae, then larvae turns to pupae, then pupae turns to the adult flea.
Once a male and female flea have sex (I’m not sure if it’s missionary style or doggie style), soon after mating, the male flea dies.
The female will continue feeding off an animal gorging on blood for approximately 10 days. Once she is full, she hops off the animal to go lay her eggs.
During a period of about up to four weeks, she can lay thousand and thousands of eggs and once she lays all of the eggs, the female dies soon afterwards.
Then the whole life cycle begins with all the other adult fleas that are out there already and have laid their eggs.
Even though you may not even notice your dog or cat scratching does not mean that they do not have fleas. The animals that do scratch at the fleas are the ones that have an allergy to the fleas.
Fleas are nasty little critters and they can cause anemia in our pets when the flea problem goes unnoticed. Flea anemia can be fatal to pets of any age.
Pale gums are a sign of possible flea anemia. If your pet does have a lot of fleas be sure and look at their gums and if the gums are pale, take your pet to the vet immediately.
Many people use flea collars to rid their pets of fleas but flea collars only work from the neck up so you are throwing your money away bu using flea collars.
If your pet chews on himself / herself and if they have any fleas, if they eat a flea then tapeworms will occur. Tapeworms cause no health threat to animals but they just look nasty.
Segments of tapeworms can be seen in feces and around your dog’s or cat’s anus. They look just like a grain of white rice.
Your local vet can give you a tablet to give to your pet for tapeworms called Droncit. It is dosed out according to the animal’s weight. Animals can also get tapeworms from eating crickets and June bugs.
Mosquitoes cause heartworm disease. A mosquito bites a dog that is already carrying the heartworms, which stay in the bloodstream in the larvae stage, which are baby heartworms.
Now that the mosquito has ingested the larvae, then this mosquito will go bite another dog, which injects the larvae under the skin.
The baby heartworms, or larvae, live in the bloodstream for around four months then they migrate their way up into the dog’s heart, and once they are there.
They develop into adult heartworms and stay all around the heart and stay there where they will eventually suffocate the heart which could cause difficulty breathing and will eventually lead to death if left untreated.
The cost of a six-month supply of heartworm preventative is a great amount less than the treatment for heartworms.
I live in an area of North Texas where the winters do not get very cold and if the temperature does dip below freezing, it does not stay that way long enough to make me decide to stop giving heartworm preventative to my pets.
Mosquitoes are here year round where I live. Wintertime here in Texas is usually far less bitterly cold than it is in New York City, so I keep my pets on heartworm prevention year round.
Choosing whether or not to give flea and heartworm prevention year round to your pets really depends on where you live and what the climate is like during wintertime.
But do not stop giving your pets any heartworm preventative without first talking this over with your local vet.
These nasty critters thrive on blood. They attach themselves head first down into the skin and stay there and dine on your dog’s blood.
Ticks carry and transmit Lyme disease both to dogs and humans, but is most commonly known to occur in dogs.
Ticks need blood to survive. In a typical two-year cycle, the tick must have three blood meals. The life cycle begins in the spring of the first year when adults lay their eggs by the thousands on the ground around the end of May.
Then in the first or second month in August these eggs hatch into six-legged larvae, which are about the size of a period in a sentence.
This is the stage at which the ticks receive their first meal of blood and is typically from mice, chipmunks, and birds. At this stage in the cycle, the larvae may be infected with the Lyme disease bacteria.
After feeding for several days, the ticks become fully engorged and drop off the host, usually into leaf litter. They will remain dormant until the spring of year two when the larvae molt into eight-legged nymphs, which are about the size of a poppy seed.
Even though the nymphs mainly feed off of mice and chipmunks, during this season of the year is when people and their pets stay outdoors longer and become an unsuspecting host to these.
Nymphs are very difficult to see and once they feed for four to five days, the nymphs will drop off their host and eventually molt into eight-legged adults.
At the last of the summer and going all through the fall, the adult ticks make their way to much larger animals which is usually deer and then the ticks begin to mate.
At this stage is when pet owners will begin noticing ticks on their pets and themselves. The female ticks will attach and feed for up to a week off their host, which is either a deer or dogs and cats and once the blood sucking is done after three weeks time.
The ticks drop off and lay up to 3,000 eggs, which will not hatch until the springtime. Now the entire two-year cycle of the tick begins all over again.
If you do notice any ticks on your pet here is what you can do. Just spray some flea spray directly on the tick and let it drop off the dog/cat on its own.
If the tick does not drop off the animal after it dies, you can pull it off yourself. If you do not have flea spray you can soak a cotton ball in alcohol and squeeze the alcohol on to the tick and then take a pair of tweezers or use you fingers and make certain that you are right next to the skin by the head of the tick and then pull the tick off.
Check the area where the tick was removed and watch for any redness or swelling and if any is noticed this will tell you that the head of the tick was not removed.
I worked as a veterinary technician for 10 years & learned a lot of valuable information.
I am not a licensed vet but I did learn many useful tips and information during my years working for one. The above information is intended for educational purposes only and shall not take the place of seeking professional advice from a licensed veterinarian.