With the colder months approaching, you may think now is a good time to hold off on purchasing and giving your pet flea and tick preventative as most plants and grass begin to die preparing for winter. However, as the fall leaves continue changing from green to amber and begin falling from their tree limbs, your backyard becomes the perfect environment for ticks to thrive. While it might be tempting to save a few bucks on a couple of doses of medication, you may end up spending way more in treatment if your pet were to be bitten by one of these blood-sucking disease-carrying pests.
How are ticks dangerous to my pet?
Ticks are parasites, which means they thrive off the blood of their hosts. They produce a sticky substance that allows them to latch onto the host (your pet) and often these spots can become inflamed and irritated on your pet’s skin. Some female ticks can also produce a substance that can cause temporary paralysis in your pet, though this is extremely rare. In other rare cases, ticks can suck enough of your pet’s blood to cause deficiencies such as anemia.
That being said, most ticks themselves aren’t very dangerous to your pet, but the diseases they carry are. The two most common diseases associated with ticks are Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Both diseases can cause lameness in your pet and in cases of Lyme Disease, arthritis. These diseases can be very harmful and painful to your pet.
How can I protect my pet?
As it is with any disease, the first step to protecting your pet is through vaccination. Depending on where you live and the time your pet spends outdoors, you may consider getting the Lyme vaccination. If you travel to areas where Lyme Disease is prevalent, your pet should be vaccinated. Talk with your veterinarian about whether or not it is recommended to include this vaccine in your pet’s annual vaccinations.
The best way to protect your pet from the dangers of ticks is by putting him on a flea and tick preventative. The most effective preventatives are given orally and usually come in the form of a flavored chew or tablet. Most pets actually enjoy the taste! If your pet doesn’t tolerate oral medication well, there are also topical applications available, though they are not quite as effective.
Keep in mind that preventatives are not just for animals that spend a lot of time outside. Your pet can still be susceptible to these diseases by attracting fleas and ticks from the comfort of your own home.
Aside from the dangers of ticks we’ve mentioned, flea infestations can also be a pain to deal with, especially if you are dealing with carpet or if your pet spends time on your furniture. In other words, save yourself the time and headache of cleaning up after the mess fleas and ticks can make and put your pet on a flea and tick preventative.
Here at New Hope Animal Hospital, we aim to help keep your pets safe all year round. If you have questions about your pet’s health care or would like to schedule an appointment to receive flea and tick preventatives for your four-legged friend, contact us today.