Our client, Sadie, chilling safely indoors.
We seem to have a catch 22 situation going on here in the Crescent City when it comes to our weather; either conditions are too wet - which means lots of mold and ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes, or too dry - meaning hot, humid, and without rain. Both these situations are prime conditions for allergens and other health concerns, including and especially fleas.
Even if your fur baby doesn't spend prolonged time outdoors in leafy or grassy areas, chances are you do - and that could mean picking up a hitchhiker in the form of a flea or tick when walking through or brushing up against tall grass or weeds. All it takes is one, and if eggs get inside the house...
Flea bites are a top cause of allergic reactions in pets, and if unchecked can lead to other problems such as dermatitis or even infection. Because bites are not easy to spot on companion animals it's important to check your pets regularly (see the link below), especially if you see an increase in licking, biting or scratching at their skin. Don't forget - fleas can also spread tapeworms so it's important to be vigilant!
Our client, Olive, enjoying some time in the yard.
According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) there are more than 70 species of mosquitoes capable of transmitting heartworms, and believe it or not, people can be infected as well. Even though like cats, incidents of heartworms in humans is way less than in dogs, multi-pet households will do well to take preventive measures.
Heartworm facts; click for enlarged view
Since mosquitoes can transmit serious diseases to humans as well, you'll want to do everything you can to discourage them from visiting your home, but take care using repellent sprays and lotions. The last thing you want is for your fur baby to become a victim of accidental poisoning.
Ticks may not be as big of a threat to indoor animals as fleas and mosquitoes, but they are still of concern to every pet parent of a dog, especially those who take their BFF on outings such as hikes and camping trips. In addition to Lyme disease, ticks carry bacteria that can lead to other illness, and it's possible for a single tick to infect a human or animal - including non-canines - with more than one disease.
Tick populations continue to increase and the CAPC is predicting higher than normal incidents of Lyme Disease for this year. Fortunately there was only one positive case found in Orleans last year, (none so far this year) but the disease was found in a couple surrounding parishes so keep that in mind if planning a hike, camping trip, or other outdoor adventure.
The 2018 CAPC Lyme and Heartworm Disease forecasts.
Other biting and sucking insects of potential concern to pet parents include lice and mites. Though generally less common of a problem than fleas and ticks, these critters can come into the home as hitchhikers or slip in through cracks on their own. Their effects range from skin irritation to the causing of diseases and transmitting tapeworms.
Our curious clients, Pizza and Sonny, peering outdoors.
It should be noted that parasitic diseases can be passed on to us accidentally by our own pets as well as strays and ferals through contact with garden soil and sand boxes. Click this link to learn more about two prevalent parasitic U.S. diseases.
Things to remember:
--Use a heartworm, flea & tick preventative monthly to protect your dog or cat. If one brand isn't working try a different one. Talk to your vet about which treatment is right for you pet. The prescription brands, while more expensive, are usually the most effective and safe.
--Keep pets clean and healthy to lessen their risk of exposure, and never bring a bird's nest found outdoors into the home.
--If your pet is scratching a lot, repeatedly licking and chewing its paws, don't just blow it off; have a look - even if they are not suffering from a parasite reaction/infestation it be sign of an allergy.
--Make your yard less hospitable to ticks by keeping the grass cut and keeping weeds under control.
--By the way, all those feral chickens roaming around the city? They could be carrying bird mites.
--If you live in an apartment building pests can spread to your home from other units.
--While many allergies are seasonal for both pets and people, your fur baby can experience year round symptoms.
--Anything you put on your skin, from sunscreen to mosquito repellent, can end up on your pets as well and even potentially in their mouths.
Spring Has Sprung
The Heat is On
Springtime Pet Care
Spring Health Tips
ASPCA's Hot Weather Safety Tips
Favorite Hiding Places of Fleas and Ticks
What Does a Flea Bite Look Like?
5 Ways Indoor Cats Can Get Fleas or Ticks
7 Ways to Mosquito-Proof Your Apartment