Fall is right around the corner, and while the weather is cooling down, the bugs are still around — even if you can’t see them.
The wet summer we’ve had has caused an explosion in the activity of pesky parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Not only do these tiny terrors make life miserable for those of us with two (or four) legs, but they can also be responsible for the transmission of some nasty diseases among people and pets.
Fleas are everywhere, and while they don’t transmit diseases, the discomfort they cause can be unbearable to pets.
Have you ever noticed your pet stop what he’s doing and then start frantically chewing his rump? He may have fleas, even if you’ve never seen one in his coat.
Fleas are sneaky little bugs that hide in hair coats, and can sometimes go undetected for long periods of time. In fact, many animals are allergic to fleas and may have hair loss and scaling or crusting of the skin, especially in their backsides, as a result of those allergies.
If you go
The 21st annual Lawrence Humane Society’s Bootlegger’s Fur Ball auction and fundraiser will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 25 at Abe and Jake’s Landing, 8 E. Sixth St. Attendees can get dolled up in glad rags for a night of fun to benefit lost, abused and homeless pets in Lawrence. General admission tickets for individuals cost $50 and 10-seat tables cost $500. A VIP ticket ($75) or table ($750) includes access to the VIP Prohibition Pre-Pawty starting at 6 p.m. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit lawrencehumane.org/furball.
To check your pet for fleas, purchase a flea comb from any pet store and gently brush your pet to check for live fleas and the debris they leave behind. Fortunately, flea control is easy and can be purchased through your local veterinary hospital.
Note: It is important to avoid flea treatments that contain pyrethrins as they do not work and can be very toxic, especially to cats. Additionally, flea collars generally do not work well and can also be toxic to pets.
Like fleas, ticks can also go unnoticed for long periods of time, and can burrow into small crevices on your pet’s body, where they’ll hide and feed. Some of their favorite hideouts are between skin folds, inside the ears, and in between the toes.
Unlike fleas, ticks can transmit a wide range of diseases that can make both you and your pet very sick, including: Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis. Many tick-borne diseases are contagious to people and animals, and some can even be fatal if left untreated.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, www.cdc.gov, to learn more about tick-borne disease.
Ticks aren’t the only bugs that carry diseases; mosquitoes are also responsible for transmitting infectious diseases (like West Nile virus) to people and animals.
Fortunately, new and improved dog products are on the market that repel mosquitoes, in addition to fleas and ticks, and will protect your furry family member from mosquito-borne illnesses like heartworm.
Working with your veterinarian to develop a prevention plan for your pet will prevent it from the discomfort these small (but mighty) parasites can inflict, and will also ensure that you and your family members — two- and four-legged alike — are not exposed to any dangerous illnesses. Remember to treat your pet monthly and discuss parasite control with your veterinarian.
— Jennifer Stone is the medical director and staff veterinarian at the Lawrence Humane Society. She has been a shelter veterinarian for more than a decade.