The F-word

March 27, 2018

While spring may bring warmer weather, longer days, and an overall sense of relief from winter, it also brings increased health risks to dogs and cats. Along with higher temperatures and wetter conditions, spring leaves your pets extra vulnerable to parasites and infections. During the month of March, our blog posts will be centered around Spring Wellness. Let’s begin with the dreaded F-word for pet parents: Fleas.

Fleas are small, flightless insects with parasitic tendencies. This means they depend on a host for survival; in many cases, this host is your dog or cat. Fleas feed on blood throughout the day, causing hair loss, skin irritations, persistent itching around the tail, ears, and neck and in severe cases, anemia. Even more concerning is the fact that fleas are hosts themselves and are known to transmit an array of parasites and diseases including tapeworm, heartworm, and typhus.

While the adults are small, fast and prefer to stay on their host, the eggs and the larvae can often be found in and around where your pet sleeps. Occasionally, you can see the adults around the base of the tail. They will be round, flat, and the size of pepper, usually assuming a dark brown or reddish colour. The fleas cause small, slightly swollen red bites, and contain one small puncture mark in the centre.

There are many easy ways to prevent fleas from infecting your pets and your home. Using a medicated flea preventative is the most effective way to ensure your pets will not become a flea circus. Keeping cats indoors will both protect them, and the millions of wild birds and mammals killed by domestic cats each year. Keeping your home and property clean, as well as consistently inspecting your pet for signs of fleas and keeping them treated throughout the year, will help contribute to your home being flea-free!

But what to do if your pet already has fleas? No need to panic – it’s a relatively easy fix that won’t break the bank. Connect with one of our veterinarians to discuss which products and which form of treatment works best for you and your pets. A vet will want to know if you have multiple pets in the home, if they go outside often, if they’re on any medication, as well as who and what they interact with on a daily basis. In some cases, treating your home will also be necessary. Products can be purchased at your local veterinary clinic as well as some specialty pet stores. It is important to get a recommendation from a professional prior to spraying your home or property with any kind of chemical to ensure they are safe for everyone in the area. Connect with a veterinarian and learn more about these less than friendly parasites so you’ll never have to utter the feared F-word again!