It is a wonderful time of year again in western North Carolina.
We are approaching the season when it is finally warm enough to get out and explore our beautiful mountains. As the forests turn green and the wildflowers begin to bloom, Asheville residents are excited to begin getting out to hike, bike, and enjoy their outdoor living spaces. Especially with so many stuck inside through winter working and learning remotely, you can expect the trails to be especially busy this spring. Make sure your furry friend is ready for whatever the season has in store. Remember, it is never too early for flea and tick treatment.
Where Are Fleas and Ticks Found?
The short answer is that fleas and ticks are everywhere.
Fleas are a tiny parasite that survives by feasting on the blood of their hosts. They love to catch a ride and meal from furry mammals. They are big jumpers and have massive, strong claws (for something an eighth of an inch long) to hang tight to their hosts. Fleas will lay their eggs on your dog, cat, or you. Some species can lay dozens of eggs in a single batch. They hide in cool, moist places like tall grass, piles of leaves, and woodpiles.
Ticks are similar to fleas in the sense that they are parasites surviving on the blood of their hosts. They are all about trying to find a warm furry mammal to bite. While they will not be laying eggs and multiplying in the same manner as fleas, they often carry harmful diseases that can make your precious pest very ill. Ticks prefer cool, moist areas like grass, leaves, pine needles, shrubbery, plant beds, etc. They are not just in the woods or on the trail; ticks are all around your home. Your pets are as likely to encounter fleas and ticks in your yard as in the forest on a hike.
What Are the Dangers of Fleas and Ticks?
While fleas are tiny and ticks are not much larger, these little pests can, unfortunately, make you and your pets quite sick.
The Dangers of Fleas: Fleas are not necessarily as disease-ridden as ticks; however, they pose plenty of dangers to your pets.
- Fleas cause your pet’s skin to become incredibly irritating. A pet may scratch their fur off, trying to find relief.
- Flea irritation can lead to infections that can cause your pets to suffer.
- Fleas can lead to reduced appetite and even anemia in some pets, especially puppies and kittens.
- If your pet ingests a flea, it could get a tapeworm.
- There are some diseases carried by fleas that can even impact people.
- Fleas can begin hiding in your home and become an ongoing issue. They love to hide in carpets and rugs.
The Dangers of Ticks: In addition to causing irritation and potentially fur loss, ticks carry dangerous diseases.
- Lyme Disease can cause significant suffering for your pet. Symptoms resulting from Lyme include fatigue and lethargy, Increased gait, and swollen lymph nodes.
- Cytauxzoonosis is a parasite that is specific to cats. It can cause fever and loss of appetite, as well as coma, and even death in some cases.
Ticks and fleas pose threats to pet owners as well. Humans are susceptible to Lyme disease, and rocky mountain spotted fever from ticks, and of course, irritate from flea bites.
How Can You Protect Your Pet From Fleas and Ticks?
There are steps you can take to make your pets safer from fleas and ticks, including:
- Check Your Pets Daily: Examine your pet's fur thoroughly for the presence of ticks and fleas. Even indoor cats and dogs who rarely leave the home can be affected by pests that come in riding on you, your children, or other pets.
- Keep Your Grass Low: Ticks and fleas love to hide and wait for your pets in tall grass. In addition to mowing frequently, it is a good idea to bush hog growth in the fields in which your dogs like to play.
- Move Woodpiles: Woodpiles are a favorite hiding place for fleas and ticks. Try to keep your pets away from burn piles and firewood.
- Limit Outdoor Exposure: If you have pets that spend considerable time outdoors, you can change your routine to keep them inside more often.
- Flea and Tick Treatment: There is no better way to protect your pets from fleas and ticks than veterinary-recommended and administered flea and tick treatments.
Veterinarians agree that prevention is key to protecting your pets from the harm caused by fleas and ticks. While it may be enough to use a nine-month treatment in some places, ticks and fleas never really go away in our area. The brown dog tick, for instance, never goes away, even during winter. Make sure you ask your trusted veterinarian about year-round flea and tick treatment.
If you would like to make sure your cats, dogs, and other pets are protected from fleas and ticks and the diseases they carry, contact the team at Avery Creek Pet Hospital. We have been through many flea and tick seasons here in western North Carolina. We have seen firsthand the kind of impact these dangerous pests can have on our furry family members. We are committed to providing the highest quality protection against fleas and ticks. Reach out to Avery Creek Pet Hospital to schedule your pet’s wellness check-up, and make sure you ask about flea and tick prevention.