The summer brings about different problems that may not be a bother in other parts of the year. Below is a summary of important things to remember this summer.
Mosquitoes - These little pests can be quite annoying and cause itchy bites just like they do in people, but they also carry many diseases. The most recently discovered disease spread by mosquitoes is the West Nile Virus. Although dogs can be exposed to the virus, it is thought to be non-pathogenic to them, therefore causing no clinical signs. The most serious threat mosquito?s pose to dogs and cats is heartworm disease. In Oklahoma we recommend keeping your dog or cat on heartworm prevention year round. Our winters tend to be too mild to ensure that all the mosquitoes die. It has recently been confirmed that cats too can get heartworm disease. Feline Heartworm Disease is quite different than canine heartworm disease in that cats are not a natural host. The larva many times do not develop into adult worms, however they migrate to the lungs causing a lot of damage. Cats with heartworm disease are often misdiagnosed as having asthma, because there is not an accurate test used to detect heartworms in cat. This is why it is extremely important to keep your cat on heartworm prevention as well.
Fleas ? are also annoying and can overrun your house very quickly if prevention is not kept on your pet. When you see fleas running around on your dog or cat, realize that this is only 5% of the entire flea population. The other 95% are eggs, larvae and pupae waiting to hatch. It is easy to see how in just a short period of time, the flea population can explode. Fleas can also cause more than just itchy skin. They can cause an anemia or low red blood cell count if there are enough of them. Fleas can also cause tapeworms. If an animal ingests a flea that carries this they become infected. Tapeworms are an intestinal parasite and often times look like little rice segments in the stool. Luckily, there have been great advances in flea medicine and there are many safe options available.
Ticks - Ticks are a nasty little parasite that can also take over very quickly. Ticks are a blood sucking parasite that can cause anemia as well as several different diseases. Tick diseases can be difficult to diagnose and at times can be deadly. The most common tick borne disease seen in Oklahoma is Erhlichia. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lymes disease are also prevalent. One that is less common is Babesia. Many of these diseases require that the tick be attached and feeding for at least 48 hours. So, the sooner you find and remove a tick, the better for your dog. If you see a tick on your dog remove it by grabbing the tick as close to the head as possible and pull it out. If for some reason the head is not removed, it will act as a foreign body and the dogs immune system will work it out. There will most likely be an area of localized inflammation and swelling that will subside after a couple of days. There are many great topical tick preventions on the market to help protect your pet.