It is officially spring and my preparations and patience waiting for the snow and ice storms were not needed. I feel it is only remotely possible to have a winter-like storm now, so, I say let’s prepare for warmer weather.
Because of the lack of freezing temperatures this winter, everyone is anticipating a very “buggy” summer. The first infestation that will target pets is the tick population.
That’s why it’s important to rake up all the dead leaves and other debris and dispose of them, for that is where the ticks have been wintering over and the tick eggs are concealed. Keeping the grass clipped and the fence rows clear also will help eliminate a problem with ticks this spring.
If your pet comes home scratching and you find a “seed tick,” remove it with tweezers or a hemostat and kill it in a small container of rubbing alcohol. Then, carefully check your pet for additional baby ticks.
All these undeveloped ticks want is a meal of blood from your pet so they can progress to their next stage of growth. Now is the time to stop them.
Ticks carry several diseases that can infect humans as well as pets. I’m sure most people living in rural areas have heard of Lyme disease, which produces a reddish “bulls-eye” where the tick was attached to the skin.
In case anyone finds an attached tick, it is best to see a doctor by the next day in case the tick was carrying the Lyme disease organism and has passed it on through the bite.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is another disease carried by ticks and this organism has spread across the United States. Tularemia is passed on to rabbits the tick has feasted on, so both the rabbit and the tick must be handled carefully since humans can get this disease, too.
Soon after tick season starts, comes flea season. There are four stages of growth in a flea’s life cycle: the egg, larva, pupa and adult. Flea eggs often are deposited on the pet, but will fall off to the ground or carpeting.
A one shot elimination program is impossible since the eggs will hatch after the adults have been killed; the larvae will pupate and new adults will emerge from the cocoons. To get rid of a flea infestation takes repeated treatments and vacuuming each week for four to six weeks.
It is important to keep watching for these critters since they can transmit the dog tapeworm when they bite to suck blood. There also are other infectious diseases fleas can carry.
There are various products available to control fleas. I like those that inhibit the flea’s life cycle, preventing it from maturing so it can lay eggs. Ask your veterinarian for suggestions if you see a number of fleas on your pet after an excursion. Don’t wait.
One new idea I read about is to catch the lone flea your pet brings home by using sticky tape. I’ve tried masking tape and it worked for me.