Earlier this month, the CDC reported that diseases from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have tripled in the U.S. between 2004 and 2016. We could’ve told you that!
Pet owners in New England are well aware that these pests, particularly ticks, are more prevalent than ever. This corresponds to an uptick (pardon the pun!) in the diseases that these vermin carry among both humans and our beloved pets.
#3 Where will my pet contract fleas & ticks?
Fleas: fleas travel indoors easily. While fleas prefer humid climates and temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees, they can live in temperatures as low as 33 degrees for up to five days! Flea eggs can live year round in protected areas like crawl spaces or porches. Once inside, flea eggs drop onto rugs, beddings and furniture. An adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day - yuck!
Ticks: sadly, it’s safe to assume that if you let your pet outside, they are being exposed to ticks. Your pet can pick up ticks in long grass, the short grass in your yard, the woods and even from the brush next to paved surfaces.
#4 What do I do if I think or know my pet has fleas or ticks?
Fleas: be on the lookout for droppings or “flea dirt” in your pet’s coat and/or tiny white flea eggs; skin reactions and excessive licking, scratching or biting; hair loss; scabs or hot spots; pale gums or worms in your pet’s stool. If observe any of these symptoms, call us immediately at 978-369-3505 to make an appointment. We'll prescribe treatment and talk to you about how to rid your pets and your house of fleas.
Ticks: most ticks are visible to the naked eye but can be hard to spot if they’re buried in the fur of your pet. Check your pet for ticks once a day, paying special attention to a tick’s favorite hiding places: between toes, in "armpits", the neck, around the eyes and inside ears. If you find a tick on your pet, remove it as soon as possible. If it hasn’t attached itself yet, there is no risk of tick-borne illness for your pet. If it has attached, grasp the tick with a pair of tweezers as close to the site of attachment as you can and pull straight back.
If you have found an attached tick, particularly one that is engorged, the MSPCA advises noting the date and time to discuss with your veterinarian.
Continue watching for joint pain, which may manifest as lethargy, lack of appetite, reluctance to stand or lie down, crying painfully, walking gingerly or limping, especially on more than one limb or on a different limb from one day to the next. NOTE: Symptoms may not appear until several weeks after exposure.
If you observe any of these symptoms following a tick bite, contact us immediately to make an appointment. Typically tick borne-illnesses respond well to a course of antibiotics, so don’t delay in contacting us!
#5 How can we prevent flea & tick-borne illnesses?
At CAH we take a multi-pronged approach to protecting your pets from tick-borne diseases like Lyme and anaplasmosis. We vaccinate dogs against Lyme disease, test all at-risk pets for tick-borne diseases annually and we strongly recommend that clients give a flea & tick preventative year round. Fleas and ticks aren't killed by the frost and jump to life in 40 degrees or lower. While it's not above 40 degrees 365 days per year, it absolutely gets above 40 degrees every month of the year. Prevention is safer, easier and less expensive than treatment, not to mention much easier on your beloved cat or dog!