With spring nearing, it’s a good time to start thinking about all the parasites that begin to surface as the weather gets warmer.
Once again it has been an interesting winter with large temperature swings from the teens all the way up to the sixties. When it doesn’t stay cold for long periods of time and it warms up that much, it can allow many parasites to get a head start on the spring. So when spring is finally here for good, the parasites will be here in larger numbers and earlier in the season.
Therefore, this year may be as bad as last year, which saw a large number of parasites.
When talking about parasite prevention, there are many different types available. It is recommend that heartworm prevention be continued year round. Since most heartworm prevention helps prevent some intestinal parasites as well, coverage for these parasites(roundworms, hookworms, and possibly whipworms) will be year round too.
Flea and tick prevention is the one that gives most owners the problem of deciding when to start and stop. If pet owners stop prevention in the winter and don’t plan ahead or recognize that a problem has started, it can be a lot of work to get rid of these little pests once they have infested the pet, the home, and the yard. For this reason, many owners elect to stay on prevention during the entire year.
Some owners will give prevention until it is cold for the majority of the time and then restart before it gets consistently warm. Depending on the winter temperatures, this may only allow them to have a month or two off — which has been the case these past couple of winters. Waiting until there is a problem can make it very difficult to regain control of the situation.
Not only do owners have to deal with the actual parasites which can affect their pets, but they also have to handle the secondary illnesses and problems that occur from these parasites. If a dog or cat eats a flea, they can develop tapeworms. The tapeworm egg is inside the flea so when it is digested the tapeworm egg is left behind and grows inside the animals intestinal tract. This can ultimately lead to vomiting, diarrhea or weight loss. Ticks can transmit illnesses like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Not only can the pets get these illnesses but the pets can bring the ticks to their owners. Other parasites that can be around in high numbers in mild climates include scabies (mite) and ear mites. Scabies — also known as sarcoptic mange — is the mite that is contagious to other animals and to people as well. Even flies can become an issue to pets. Their bites can cause irritation and infection along the edges of animals’ ears. In weakened or unkempt pets, flies can lay eggs on the animals and maggots can occur. This can be a life threatening infection if not caught in time.
Spring is right around the corner so early planning for control of these parasites should begin soon. Hopefully this winter will be enough to keep this season from being as bad as it was last year. No matter how bad the season may or may not be, though, prevention is always needed and implementing it sooner rather later is very important.