Spring weather can be wild and wacky, but one thing is for sure: warming weather means more time outdoors. But this better weather and outdoor time spring can also bring out nasty pests that harm our pets.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks can cause not just irritation but also great harm to our dogs and cats. According to Web MD, fleas, though tiny, can eat 15 times their own weight in blood, causing anemia in a dog or cat. At a minimum, fleas cause itching; they are known to be the most common cause of skin disease in dogs and cats. Ticks can bring Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever not only to humans, but to our pets as well.
With warming weather, many of our animals spend more time outside. Running through grass, exploring the wonderful Wyoming forests, and encountering other pets while outdoors can bring your dog or cat into contact with fleas and ticks. And your pets can bring these pesky critters into your home. But, you can restrain that exposure.
There are a myriad of preventive programs to curb these pests, and therefore, a pet parent's worry. Talk with your veterinarian about how to prevent fleas and ticks from infecting and affecting your dog or cat. You can purchase preventive measures from your vet directly or from a local pet supply store. You may also want to consult the Pet MD website for more information on fleas and ticks; the site includes a Flea and Tick Survival Guide: http://www.petmd.com/flea-tick-survival-guide#. Learn more about fleas and ticks and their affect on pets at http://pets.webmd.com/ss/slideshow-flea-and-tick-overview.
Flies and Mosquitoes
Fleas and ticks are not the only minute pests to be concerned about. Biting flies and gnats can be obnoxious to humans and their animals and may at times carry disease. Mosquitoes, too, not only pester people, but they also bother our animals. Fur provides some protection, but ears and noses are vulnerable. If you live near a water source or take your dog to your favorite fishing hole or to the lake, you should be concerned about mosquitoes and your pet. In fact, mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus as well as heartworm, a major disease affecting dogs; cats can also get it. Although Wyoming is not typically a heartworm prevalent state, incidents have risen during the past decade, according to researchers (view heartworm incident maps at https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/incidence-maps).
In addition to the diseases that our pets can obtain from fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, dogs and cats can be allergic to these tiny problematic creatures. My springer/cocker mix, Mary, for example is allergic to many environmental objects, including grass, some trees, and mosquitoes. The only way my husband and I knew what allergies she has was to get her tested. Yes, it's an outlay of money, but we now know how best to help her and we know to protect her from mosquitoes. So, when we plan to travel to a moist, humid climate or to a lake or river, my husband and I make sure Mary is protected from mosquitoes.
Being outdoors during spring and summer is fun for us and for our pets, particularly our dogs. But remember there are tiny creatures out there just waiting for a warm body, ours and our pets, on which to inhabit. Therefore, take the needed precautions and purchase those preventative remedies to keep your pet from being infected by fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Talk with your veterinarian and keep your furry friend safe this season!
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.