Warm spring weather is (hopefully) just around the corner. That means it’s time to move it outdoors and enjoy it! From hiking and walking to trips to the dog park, my furry friend, Wiley, and I spend as much time as we can outdoors when it is nice out. The warm weather doesn’t just bring green grass and flowers, however, it also means biting bugs that can harm people and dogs and cats, like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.
Just like humans, our beloved pets are at risk for vector-borne disease.
Fleas are one of the easier pests when it comes to determining their presence. Both dogs and cats are allergic to flea saliva and will scratch and chew when they have fleas. And just one flea can bite nearly 350 times in one day! While it is uncommon, fleas can transmit disease to dogs, cats and humans alike.
When it comes to ticks, your pet isn’t going to let you know that it has one because it doesn’t make them itch as much as flea bites. They may not look like they are being harmed or bothered by anything, but that may not be the case. Ticks transmit Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis dogs. There is even an illnesses called tick paralysis that can harm our four-legged friends.
When it comes to protecting your pets from flea and ticks, it’s about controlling the pests and being vigilant. Talk to your veterinarian about topical medications or collars. Additionally, there are flea and tick treatments for your yard that will help. At Mosquito Squad, our traditional barrier spray eliminates adult ticks on contact. We also have additional applications we use to combat ticks more aggressively as well as fleas. Even when your pet is protected with medication or yard treatments, they should be checked after spending time in areas where ticks and fleas are known to be. For example, Wiley had topical treatments, but still had ticks last year after hiking. If your dog or cat has a tick, remove it using tweezers and place it in a plastic bag in case it is needed for testing. If they have fleas, they will need a flea bath and you will need to check to see if your home needs to be sprayed.
When it comes to mosquitoes, they transmit one of the most dangerous vector-borne diseases for some animals: heartworm. The roundworm travels to the heart where it matures and grows. If it isn’t treated, heartworm can be fatal. It is highly recommended that animals take a heartworm medication. It should be prescribed after a heartworm test has been done on the animal.
Symptoms of canine heartworm are coughing, not wanting to exercise, fainting and a rapid heartbeat. Feline heartworm symptoms include coughing, vomiting and depression.
Professional mosquito control will also help protect your pets from heartworm by cutting down on your property’s mosquito population. The mosquito spray that we utilize eliminates mosquitoes on contact and provides continued protection for up to 21 days.
If you have questions on how to protect your pets from vector-borne disease, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.
Earlier this week one of my coworkers had to take her dog, Belle, to the vet for a routine checkup. While testing Belle’s blood for her annual heartworm test, the vet ran tests for Lyme and Ehrlichiosis because of the high number of ticks this season. While Belle wasn’t displaying any symptoms of a tick-borne illness, tests showed that she did indeed have Ehrlichiosis. Luckily, Belle is on her way to a full recovery through a series of antibiotics.
Ehrlichiosis is transmitted to dogs through the bite of brown dog ticks. Brown dog ticks are present throughout the United States and primarily feed on dogs, but do sometimes bite people. Unlike other ticks, they are commonly found indoors hiding in cracks, under rugs and furniture and on walls. Brown dog ticks are often called kennel ticks because they were commonly found in kennels across the U.S.
Once infected with Ehrlichiosis, there are three phases of the disease. The first, the acute state, starts a few weeks after transmission and lasts for up to a month. While some dogs may have lower blood counts during this time, the most common symptom is fever.
The second phase is called the subclinical phase and has no outward symptoms. In many cases, dogs stay in this phase for years, if not the rest of their life. While they are infected with the bacteria, they show no outward signs and some canines are able to successfully fight off the disease.
The third and most serious phase of Ehrlichiosis is the chronic stage. Dogs in the chronic phase will show symptoms including, weight loss, pale gums, lameness and coughing. In rare cases, when the dog doesn’t respond to treatment, Ehrlichiosis can be fatal.
Belle’s vet told my coworker that this year, as compared to the past, has brought a higher number of Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis diagnoses in canines. While dogs respond well to treatment for both diseases, the best way to protect your furry friend from becoming ill is to protect them against tick bites. Topical tick medication will kill (and sometimes repel depending on your brand) ticks when they bite your dog. If you want added protection, try tick control in your yard. Mosquito Squad’s barrier spray and tick tubes will get to the ticks, before they get to our dogs. Contact your local Squad if you want to learn more about our tick control options.
If you are worried that your dog may have contracted a tick-borne disease, make sure to ask your vet to do a blood test on your next visit.
And just because no dog post is complete without a picture of a dog and I don’t have a picture of Belle, here’s one of Wiley and his big ears.
Saying I’m a dog lover is most likely an understatement. My wonderful dog, Wiley, is arguably the most spoiled dog in the greater Richmond area, maybe even Virginia. I mix his food with cut up hot dogs, he sleeps on the bed and can often be found on my lap, belly up getting a good scratch. Did I mention he’s 45 pounds and not the normal lap-dog size? What can I say? He’s my constant companion and I do my best to keep him both happy and healthy, including protecting him against and checking for ticks.
Ticks carry many diseases that can affect our pets, including Lyme disease, heartworm and ehrlichiosis. A colleague of mine sent me a great site a few weeks ago, DogsandTick.com, that teaches owners how to prevent tick bites, notice symptoms of illness and what treatments are available. I suggest every dog owner take a look.
Most dog owners apply monthly medications to prevent ticks or put a dog collar on them, unfortunately neither are 100% effective. Another way you can protect your pets and yourself from ticks (and at the same time enjoy the outdoors for longer) is with a barrier spray from Mosquito Squad.