Most would say that the unseasonably warm weather that citizens of upstate New York have been experiencing this year has been unexpected but lovely. However ask your dog or cat and they wouldn’t think that this weather has brought loveliness. Instead for dogs and cats the unseasonably warm weather has brought the rapid arrival of cats and dogs nemesis, fleas and ticks.
Fleas are small, dark reddish-brown blood sucking insects, they are small but you will know you are looking at one when you see it. Their bodies are flattened on the sides so that they can get through the hair on the animal’s body. Their mouths are made especially for sucking blood.
Ticks are small, dark brown with eight legs but are not insects. They are closely related to spiders. All ticks are parasites. Cats rarely get ticks, they seem to prefer dogs. Humans can also get ticks but ticks don’t prefer humans.
According to the University of Florida’s electronic information data source, there are over 2,000 described species of fleas in the world. The most common domestic flea is the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis felis). The dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) appears similar to the cat flea, but is rare in the United States. Cat flea adults, unlike many other fleas, remain on their host. Females require a fresh blood meal in order to produce eggs, and they can lay up to 1 per hour! Adult fleas live anywhere from four to 25 days.
Katie Morrison, animal care assistant at the Irondequoit Animal Hospital has seen a drastic increase of fleas and ticks during these “winter” months.
“There has been a huge increase with ticks this year, and a lot of dogs are testing positive for heart worm,” said Morrison.
Common health issues that the Irondequoit Animal hospital has seen this year is secondary skin infects, allergies and parasites such as tapeworm causes by fleas.
Lime disease is caused by ticks and unlike fleas ticks along with their parasites can affect humans.
Morrison suggests to her patients to make it a priority to use monthly flea and tick preventatives along with heartworm preventatives.
“A lot of people think that flea and tick medication doesn’t need to be used during the winter months but the fact is preventatives should be used year round especially if the weather is warmer than 40 degrees,” said Morrison.
Not only should these medications be given to dogs and cats but also avoid at all costs wooded areas and tall grass.
Keep in mind that fleas and ticks can cause serious illnesses to dogs and cats and any and all precautions should be taken to ensure the healthy and happy life of your pet.