Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Flea & Tick Season is Approaching!

Spring is in the Air! The Time to Protect is NOW!

Spring is here and with the warm weather you and your dog are likely to be outdoors more and more. Fresh air, sunshine, you and your dog – life just doesn’t get much better than that! You know what else is out there enjoying the warm weather with you? Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. Oh, and let’s not forget about your lawn and garden.

Fleas & Ticks
Fleas and ticks will emerge from their dormant life cycles and begin their full life and breeding cycles. Fleas generally begin their optimal life cycle when the temperature is above 70°F and as the humidity increases. The full breeding cycle peaks with temperatures (70°F to 85°F) and high humidity (70%). An adult flea can lay 15 to 20 eggs per day and over 500 in her lifetime. One flea can become as many as 100,000 in just 30 days in ideal conditions! The best cure is prevention.

There are many preventive medications available on the market today. Speak to your vet about an appropriate preventive flea and tick medication for your dog. Although there are many brands of over-the-counter flea and tick products available at supermarkets and pet supply stores, it is critical to read their labels and consult with your veterinarian before using them on your dog. These products may contain ingredients that could harm pets and children. You can visit the HSUS website to learn more about flea & tick products.

Lawns & Gardens
Spring is often a time when people fertilize their lawns and work in their gardens. BEWARE! Plant food, fertilizer, and insecticides can be fatal if your pet ingests them. In addition, more than 700 plants can produce physiologically active or toxic substances in sufficient amounts to cause harmful effects in animals. You can visit the HSUS or ASPCA websites for a list of common poisonous plants.

Mosquitoes transmit heartworm – a fatal disease. Heartworm is transmitted to animals through a bite from a mosquito containing the infected larval form of the heartworm. When an animal is infected, the heartworm larva can grow and develop into worms. These worms live inside blood vessels within and surrounding the heart and lungs. The adult worms mate inside the blood vessels, and their offspring—which are called microfilaria—circulate in the bloodstream. These microfilaria can be picked up by another biting mosquito, and then passed to another animal.
Once infected, animals with heartworm can be treated if the disease is caught in time, but there are several drawbacks. The treatment, although effective, is painful, expensive, and can have side effects. If the disease goes untreated, the results can be fatal. The best cure is prevention.

If your dog has not been on year-round heartworm preventive medication, NOW is the time to bring your dog to your veterinarian for a blood test and then start him on preventive medication. Dogs must be tested to ensure they don't have heartworm before putting them on preventive medication. If your dog has been on year-round medication but it has been 2 or more years since his last heartworm blood test, you should bring your dog to your veterinarian to be tested again before continuing medication. By federal law, heartworm preventive medicine is only available through a prescription.