Keeping Your Pets Safe During Flea and Tick Season

Dog having a tick removed in a vet office

How to Keep Your Pets Safe from Lyme Disease and Other Illnesses During Flea and Tick Season

Warmer weather brings the return of fleas and ticks throughout the entire U.S. Fortunately, keeping your pet safe from these tiny but troublesome pests can be as easy as taking a few simple precautions.

Ticks Can Cause Long-Lasting Health Problems

Ticks are opportunists. They'll jump on the first warm body that passes by, whether that's you or your dog. The pests latch on to the skin and feed on your pet's blood. If they remain attached to the skin long enough, they'll also release the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria into your pet's body. Transmission of the bacteria can occur in as little as 24 hours.

The bacteria causes Lyme disease, an illness responsible for joint inflammation, pain, swelling, stiffness, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and other symptoms. Depending on how quickly treatment begins, dogs may develop chronic health problems as a result of a Lyme disease infection. Cats can also develop Lyme disease, although infections have only occurred in cats in laboratory settings so far, according to Cornell Feline Health Center.

Ticks can also transmit other diseases to animals, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and bartonellosis. These diseases can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from swollen lymph nodes to anemia and even death. Symptoms of tick-borne illnesses may not appear until several months after your pet has been infected.

If you examine your pet after a trip outside, you may see or feel ticks. Ticks like to burrow in out-of-the-way areas, such as between the toes, under the collar or at the base of the tail.

Do You Know How to Spot Signs of Flea Infestations?

Although flea bites usually aren't quite as serious as tick-borne illnesses, they can make your pet very uncomfortable. Since fleas reproduce fairly quickly, the entire family may soon start scratching. Fleas can also affect pet rabbits, guinea pigs, and other small animals.

Pets that have flea infestations may compulsively scratch, bite, or lick their skin, causing bald or raw spots. You may also notice flea "dirt," small black specks in your pet's fur. If an infestation is severe, or your pet is allergic to fleas, anemia can occur. Pets that are anemic may develop pale lips or gums, weakness, fatigue, and loss of appetite.

How You Can Protect Your Pet

Flea and tick preventive medications offer an easy way to safeguard your pet's health. The treatments kill adult ticks and fleas and also prevent larvae and eggs from maturing.

They're available in spot treatments, collars, sprays, shampoos, and other products. Before you use a preventive medication for the first time, check with your pet's veterinarian to make sure it's safe for your furry friend.

In addition to using preventive treatments, it's also important to:

  • Keep Fleas and Ticks Out of Your Yard. Applying flea and tick spray monthly to grasses, shrubs and plants kill the pests before they can attack your pets. Wait for the sprays to dry completely before you let your pet walk through your yard.
  • Remove Brush and Keep Grass Cut. Brush and debris create perfect habitats for many types of insects and pests. Removing it promptly can help you keep your pets and your family healthy. Fleas and ticks love long grass but keeping your lawn cut too short can be a problem too. If your grass is shorter than two inches, the spiders that prey on fleas will find new places to live.
  • Fence Your Yard. You may treat your pets for fleas, but do your neighbors? Visiting cats and dogs can leave behind fleas even if they're only in your yard briefly. Fencing your yard also keeps wild animals infested with fleas out of your yard.
  • Remove Ticks Promptly. The sooner you remove a tick, the less likely your pet will develop Lyme disease or another tick-borne illness. Grasp the tick's head with tweezers and pull it straight out of your pet's body. Take care to avoid crushing or twisting it. Once you've removed the tick, place it in a jar filled with alcohol.

Are you worried that your pet may have fleas or a tick-borne illness? Your veterinarian can help protect your pet.

Sources:

Cornell Feline Health Center: Lyme Disease

American Kennel Club: 4 Tips to Help Keep Your Dog Safe from Fleas and Ticks, 3/15/16

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Controlling Fleas and Ticks on Your Pets

ASPCA: Fleas and Ticks

Scotts: How to Treat Fleas in the Yard

PetMD: Tick-Borne Diseases and Your Pet

Call to schedule your pet's wellness or urgent care exam now: (952) 758-6722

Testimonials

  • We have been clients of New Prague Animal Care for over 13 years. They have provided exceptional and compassionate care for our “pack” (6 dogs and 3 cats). As a professional dog trainer, breeder of Best in Show and Master Hunter Retrievers as well an owner of multiple kennel/ doggy daycare facilities (30+ years), I have worked with numerous veterinary clinics both in the Twin Cities and nationwide. Dr. Steve and his crew rate among the finest I have worked with. The clinic has all of the fea

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  • My dad has taken all of his dogs there for years, and I take mine there as well. Dr. Lavalle's bedside manner is amazing, and his staff are so genuine and caring. I always have, and will continue referring people to take their pets here. They are hands down the best veterinary care in the area!

    - Amber C
  • Have taken our dogs to Dr. Lavallee for over 10 years and he is great with each of them. He and his staff are very caring and helpful.

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  • Middle of a snow storm a few days ago. My little puppy was injured. I live in Faribult. Vet offices were closed in town. They actually called me while in route to see if I was ok. They were so good with the puppy. The cost was very reasonable. Called today to see how everything was going. I really was very impressed with this office. I recommend this place.

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  • Awesome experience! My pets love the care they get from Dr. Lavallee and his staff! They are not just a number; they care for them like my babies are family! Would highly recommend them!

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  • Found a 6-wk old kitten on the side of the highway and brought it in at 7pm on emergency basis. I was blown away by the compassion of Dr. Johnson's team. What a great experience. True animal people!

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  • Moved to New Prague and found this place for our dog.. Such great service, friendly staff, amazing Dr. and very accommodating to all of our needs!! Highly recommended by my pet family!!!

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  • We love New Prague Animal Care, they are always so kind and caring, from the phone calls to when you walk in. We take our Siberian Husky Bandit in and he gets so much attention, well loved. We've had to take him in twice for emergencies, the in house testing was great, Dr. Johnson was able to resolve the issue almost immediately. I wouldn't take him anywhere else.

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