A TIME FOR PAWS
New Treatments to Combat the Parasites that Attack Your Pets
Summer is over and schools are back in session. For most of us that means we stop our summer routines and start thinking about the fall. However, that does not apply to our pets. Often, the worst time of the year for external parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes is during the fall months. Until cold weather hits, these annoying creatures will continue to multiply. A couple of good freezes are needed to break their breeding cycles. Depending on environmental issues, such as amount of rainfall, there can be a big upsurge in these parasites in September, October, and early November. They have been reproducing all summer and laying too many eggs to count. New research is even showing that some ticks survive well into the winter season.
For many years, we tried to control fleas and ticks with collars, shampoos, and dips. This was a battle we did not win, because we were not preventing the parasites from reproducing and laying eggs. Then we changed to a better approach by attacking the egg producing ability of these parasites. This helps decrease the number of eggs that can hatch out and grow into adults. The next great breakthrough was when we got topical medications that killed fleas and ticks and repelled mosquitoes for a month. Now, we have progressed to oral chewable treats that will kill fleas and ticks for one to three months, depending on the product you chose.
Preventing fleas and ticks from taking blood meals and, thus, not allowing them to all those eggs is a big deal. It greatly limits the number of parasites in the environment that can reproduce and blunts the exponential growth pattern that we, otherwise, would see in the fleas and ticks. Given the persistence of these harmful creatures, we often need to stay on prevention products year-round in this more temperate part of the country.
You might ask why fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are so bad to have around. Obviously, mosquito and flea bites itch. We have all experienced that. But think about your pets. Their higher body temperature attracts fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes to them more than to humans. Your pet is taking the fall for you. And we must not forget about all of the diseases that fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes carry. Many of these diseases are very serious, such as heartworms carried by mosquitoes, Lyme’s disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever carried by ticks, and blood parasites that cause anemia carried by fleas, and several of them are transmissible to people.
So, don’t forget to keep your pets happy and healthy by giving them their routine doses of heart worm preventative and flea and tick preventative. They will be safer, happier, and healthier. And you will have the added benefit of making your life safer by reducing exposure to these annoying creatures.
Dr. Dick Hay is a veterinarian at TotalBond Veterinary Hospital at Davidson and has lived in Davidson since 1989 with his wife Pam, a retired Davidson College biology professor. They raised two wonderful children in Davidson, Sarah and Ben. Dr. Hay is a Davidson College graduate from the Class of 1977 and received his MS and DVM degrees from the University of Georgia. He is active in the community, having served on several nonprofits boards, including many years with the Davidson Housing Coalition.