Dogs and cats are not just pets. They are treated like members of the family. And like any member of your family, it’s important to keep your companion animal healthy and free of parasites.
It is fairly common for a dog or cat to become infested with an internal parasite at some point in its lifetime. Parasites can affect your pet in a variety of ways, ranging from simple irritation to causing life-threatening conditions if left untreated. Some parasites can even infect and transmit diseases to you and your family.
At some point in their lives, many pets experience discomfort caused by external parasites such as fleas, ticks, or mites on their skin or in their ears. These parasites can be extremely irritating to pets and can cause serious skin problems or even carry disease. Modern medicines make treatment, control, and prevention of many external parasites much easier than in the past
Fleas thrive when the weather is warm and humid. Fleas may be a seasonal or year-round problem. Your pet can pick up fleas wherever an infestation exists, often in areas frequented by other cats and dogs. Adult fleas are dark brown, no bigger than a sesame seed, and able to move rapidly over your pet’s skin.
Once the flea becomes an adult, it spends virtually all of its time on your pet. Female fleas begin laying eggs within 24 hours of selecting your pet as a host, producing up to 50 eggs each day. These eggs fall from your pet onto the floor or furniture, including your pet’s bed, or onto any other indoor or outdoor area where your pet happens to go. Tiny, worm-like larvae hatch from the eggs and burrow into carpets, under furniture, or into soil before spinning a cocoon. The cocooned flea pupae can lie dormant (inactive) for weeks before emerging as adults that are ready to infest (or re-infest) your pet. The result is a flea life cycle of anywhere from 12 days to 6 months, depending on environmental factors such as temperature and humidity.
Because much of the flea’s life cycle is spent off of your pet, treating only your pet will not eliminate the problem. If you kill the adult fleas but do not kill the eggs, larvae and pupae, your pet will become re-infested when these fleas become adults and the cycle will start all over again. Therefore, in addition to treating your pet, reduce the flea population in your house by thoroughly cleaning your pet’s sleeping quarters and vacuuming floors and furniture that your pet comes in contact with frequently. Careful and regular vacuuming/cleaning of the pet’s living area helps to remove and kill flea eggs, larvae, and pupae.
Your veterinarian can help prevent, accurately diagnose and safely treat parasites and other health problems that not only affect your dog or cat, but also the safety of you and your family. Call us if you have any questions or concerns.