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Parasite Patrol: Rescuing Your Pets From Pesky Pests

Summer is upon us, and that means we’ll be spending more time outside for the next few months. Unfortunately, the warmer weather and increased humidity provide the perfect conditions for fleas and ticks to survive and breed. “Pet owners should check their pets regularly for ticks, even if they are using a preventative, after any outdoor activity that is in a grassy, brushy or wooded area,” says Tracy Whetstine, a retail specialist at Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply.

“Common areas to find ticks are between the toes, inside the legs, around eyes and ears and under the tail. Ticks should be removed by the head to eliminate the possibility of disease or infection.”

The threat is real

It’s important to remember that  parasites can  not only be extremely irritating to pets , but they  can also cause serious skin problems and  other conditions, including Lyme disease. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, fleas bite animals and suck their blood. Young or small pets with heavy infestations may become anemic. Some pets can develop an allergy to flea saliva , while others can become infected with certain types of tapeworms if they ingest fleas carrying the eggs.

Whetstine says owners need to know how to recognize fleas or ticks on their trusty companions.

“Be aware of excessive scratching, licking or chewing or tiny red bumps on the skin. Also, check the skin for red or irritated areas.”

As for preventive  measures and treatments, Whetstine notes, “There are several flea and tick prevention options on the market, including topicals, collars, sprays and shampoos. Check with your veterinarian to find the one that is best for your pet.”

Covering all the bases

A crucial error many pet owners make is  treating the pet, but not the  environment. If you kill the adult fleas but don’t eliminate  the eggs, larvae and pupae, your pet will become re-infested when these fleas become adults and the cycle will start all over again. 

“Pet beds should be washed in hot water, and carpets and furniture vacuumed at the same time the pet is being treated,” Whetstine explains. 

“Another common mistake is not properly administering the product or missing a dose. Follow the directions carefully, and set reminders on your calendar.”

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