Yikes! It is Flea and Tick Season!
by Beef Bad Rap Wellington, the PHS Roving Reporter
I was out around Potsdam the other day, sniffing out fire hydrants and tree trunks, and noticed some of my canine and feline friends scratching themselves raw from flea and tick bites. And, yes there are ticks in the North Country. I usually do not pay much attention to the problem because the nasty little critters do not bother me. Miss Anne here at PHS keeps me safe all year long with a prophylactic treatment once a month that Doc Vet supplies her.
Clearly, some owners of my friends do not take the necessary precautions and everyone one starts to suffer. Wait until those owners try to get those little biters off their ankles and out of their carpets or worse yet need to be treated for Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, encephalitis, or tape worms.
I have sniffed out some useful information for dog and cat owners. WebMD has some great information at: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dog-ticks-and-fleas. Additionally, you can search around the site of Dr. Jon at the Pet Place for good information: http://www.petplace.com/.
Flea and tick control is extremely important. But when is the best time to start using a monthly flea and tick medication on your dog or cat?
The answer is - it depends. Recommendations are different, depending on where you live.
In southern states with warm climates, fleas are a year-round problem. If you live in a warm climate, year-round medication is recommended.
Many parts of the Midwest do not have a consistently cold climate during winter months. In these states, veterinarians also recommend year-round treatment.
In the northern region of the country where winters are consistently cold, you should begin applying a topical medication in March or April, before flea season begins - and you should continue monthly treatments until it ends. In these areas, it is extremely important to start treatment sooner rather than later since it is much easier to prevent a flea infestation than it is to treat one. Flea season lasts about 4 months, with September often being the worst month of the year.
How wet or dry the climate you are in also has a huge effect, especially on fleas. Fleas thrive in damp, humid and wet areas like we have experienced in the North Country this spring.
Still, these recommendations may not be enough. No matter where you live, if your dog or cat has brought fleas into your home, they can live and breed inside a warm house all year round. And flea infestations are a real nightmare.
Fleas multiply at an unbelievably fast rate. If you had just one flea in your home, in 2 months you could have up to 3 million fleas!
To be safe, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) (http://www.capcvet.org/) recommends that you administer a monthly preventative flea medication all year round.
Fleas can also transmit dangerous parasites and diseases to your dog, including anemia and bacterial diseases. If you aren't already using a monthly flea and tick medication on your dog, start now. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on a brand that is best for your pet.
Ticks pose a real health risk to your dog or cat and to you. If your pet brings a tick inside, it can also feed on YOU! Ticks carry many dangerous diseases like Lyme disease (which causes lameness), Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis, encephalitis and anemia. There are monthly topicals on the market that protect against fleas, ticks, biting flies, lice and mosquitoes (which carry Heartworm disease and West Nile Virus).
Generally, these topical medications are safe for dogs and puppies 7 weeks of age or older and they are available without a prescription. One application lasts a full month. Some are waterproof, so there's no need to reapply after bathing or swimming.
Parasite control is too important to take chances. Please follow the CAPC's recommendation and start your pet on a good parasite control medication today.
For the best local information available on control of fleas, ticks, and other parasites on your pet, check with your local veterinarian.