Springtime is the time for getting outdoors! And what could be better than hanging out on the deck or going for a walk with your four-legged companion? Of course, this season not only prompts us to come out of winter slumber and become more active, it’s also prime time for parasites.
While these pests are a year-round concern, there’s no doubt that warmer, humid weather brings them out in droves. Keep reading to learn more about these harmful bugs and how to keep your pet protected from parasites and the diseases they carry.
Common Pet Parasites
Fleas – This tiny parasite can wreak havoc on pet health and cause a major infestation that’s costly and inconvenient. Aside from being itchy, fleas carry Bartonella henselae (Cat Scratch Fever), tapeworms, and can cause a severe allergic response in pets. Because individual fleas can lay thousands of eggs, it only takes a few who make their way into the home on your pet to spread infection among unprotected household pets.
Ticks – Like fleas, ticks rely on warm-blooded mammal hosts for their livelihood, and this includes pets and people. These small parasites are actually arachnids rather than insects and are found throughout the United States. Because of our climate, many disease carrying species, including the deer tick, brown dog tick, and lone star tick, can be found in Alabama. While Lyme is one of the most serious and prevalent illnesses carried by ticks, these parasites are also responsible for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis.
Heartworms – Heartworm disease is found in all 50 states, but it’s particularly rampant in more humid, Southeastern regions. Heartworms are transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that transfers their larvae to an unprotected animal host. These larvae mature into adult worms and invade the vessels of the heart and lungs, sometimes resulting in hundreds of worms over the course of a few years. Heartworm is quite serious and can often be fatal – especially in cats.
Other illnesses that seem to be on the rise this time of year include leptospirosis, canine influenza virus and parvovirus. The increased number of cases is due in part to our pets being out and about and therefore more exposed to other animals at doggy daycare, dog parks, and kennels.
Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that spreads through direct or indirect contact (feces, people who have interacted with a sick pet, etc.). It can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Dogs at greater risk are puppies and adults who have not been vaccinated. This serious illness is often life-threatening, so check with the team at Town & Country to ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date.
Is Your Pet Protected From Parasites?
While we’ve focused on the onslaught of bugs during the spring season, we’d like to reiterate that parasites cause problems throughout the year. Fleas and ticks are found even during winter, particularly in our warm, humid environment. By maintaining year-round parasite protection, you’re ensuring better health and safety for two- and four-legged family members alike.