Warm weather brings out the insect nuisance for pets

Published 10:58 am Sunday, May 1, 2016

By Carey Sharp

Mower County Humane Society

The rain has been falling and April showers will bring flowers. For pet owners, however, rain and warmer temperatures will also bring fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.

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These little critters are not only annoying but can have a detrimental impact on the health of a pet. Now is the time to take preventative measures to protect their health and well being.

Mosquitoes are not only a buzzing nuisance, but they can transmit deadly heartworm disease to a dog with one bite. Once the worms hatch and begin to grow, they infiltrate the dog’s heart, arteries, and lungs. As the disease progresses, it can lead to extreme lethargy, loss of appetite, breathing problems, and death. An infected dog can also infect a mosquito, continuing the vicious cycle. Heartworm disease is very rare in cats, but can occur.

There is a treatment for heartworm disease, but it is expensive and very tough on the infected animal. It’s a series of injections that require an animal to remain quiet and calm for weeks. Any overexertion during the treatment could cause serious side effects.

Heartworm is preventable. Once a blood test determines that a pet is not infected, it can be started on a heartworm preventative. There are many products available and the preventative is much less expensive than the actual treatment.

The bite of a tick can infect a dog with Lyme disease, a tissue infection. It can cause joint pain and loss of appetite. Severe cases can lead to kidney failure. Lyme disease can be detected by a blood test and is treatable with antibiotics. There is a vaccine available to prevent it.

The same blood test that can detect heartworm and Lyme disease also tests for other tick borne illnesses such as anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis. These are infections of the white blood cells that can cause lameness, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Both infections are treatable with antibiotics, but there is no preventative vaccine.

Fleas can be a year long problem for both dogs and cats. These bloodsuckers can cause anemia and tapeworm. Some animals can develop severe allergic reactions to the bites, leading to skin infections.

Proactive prevention is the key. There are many products available to repel ticks, fleas, and even mosquitoes. Please talk to a veterinarian about the wide array of choices and what is best for each individual animal. Pets depend upon their people to keep them healthy, happy, and comfortable.

The MCHS is grateful for donations in the name of Mark and Gretchen Ramlo, Carol Mullenbach, “Norton,” “Angus” Clark, Michael Paulson, Don Pohlman, Thomas O’Connor, Milton Truman, Kenneth Otto, Dick Guckeen, Gale Williamson, “Jazz” Culton, Robert Kottner, and Stan Fink.