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Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful. (Who sings this song in the summer???)

Humans:  It’s beautiful outside.  Let’s go to the park.  Let’s throw the frisbee.  Let’s go swimming.

Dogs:  It’s beautiful outside.  Let’s go to the park.  Let’s throw the frisbee.  Let’s go swimming.

Cats:  It’s beautiful outside.  Let’s sit on the deck and take a nap.  Let’s sit on the deck and take a nap.  Let’s sit on the deck and take a nap.

Fleas:  It’s beautiful outside.  Let’s bite a dog or a cat.  Let’s take a blood meal.  Let’s breed and lay eggs.  Let’s keep the pet up all night scratching and itching.  (Let’s also keep the human up all night listening to their pet scratch and itch.)  Let’s cause a terrible skin allergy.  Let’s  transmit tapeworms.  Let’s bite people and cause an itchy rash.  Let’s infest the house, the rugs, the carpet, the furniture, and the bedding.

Ticks:  Let’s find an animal to attach to.  Let’s take a blood meal.  Let’s get bigger and bigger until a human can see and feel us.  Let’s transmit Lyme disease and other diseases which could make a pet very sick.  Let’s give people Lyme disease or another tick transmitted disease.

Mosquitos:  Let’s bite a dog or a cat and take a blood meal.  Let’s inject that pet with heartworm larvae.  Let’s give that dog or cat heartworm disease.  Let’s get the animal really sick.

Dr. Dolin:  LET’S NOT!!!!

Not only do humans and our pets love the nice weather, so do fleas, ticks, mosquitos, and other seasonal insects.  The recent increase in warm weather allows these insects to complete their life cycle and continue to breed.  Years ago, we would consider these pests as nothing more than a nuisance.  However, it is now known that these external parasites can transmit very serious, and sometimes fatal illnesses to animals and people. 

For example, fleas will cause serious skin issues with your pet, transmit tapeworms, bite people, and infest your home.  Ticks transmit not only Lyme disease, but many other tick-borne illnesses as well, such as Anaplasma, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia, Babesia, and others.  Mosquitos transmit heartworms, an internal parasite that can grow very large and inhabit the heart and blood vessels.  All of these illnesses can make our pets very ill, and in some cases, they can be fatal.  In addition, some of these external parasites will bite people and transmit disease as well.

At Essex Animal Hospital, we would much rather prevent these parasites, rather than treat your pet (and your home) after they’ve become infested.  Although we can certainly treat any illness your pet may get from these parasites, it is much safer, and much less expensive to prevent them. 

In dogs, we recommend the use of Vectra 3D.  This product is a small quantity of liquid that is applied once a month to your dogs skin.  Once absorbed, it will kill, prevent, and repel, fleas, ticks, flies, mosquitos, mites, and lice.  I use it once a month on my two dogs and (knock on wood), they haven’t had any issues with fleas or ticks.  We also recommend the use of Tri-Heart, a once a month flavored chewable tablet that will prevent heartworm disease, as well as treating and controlling roundworms and hookworms.

In cats, we recommend the use of Revolution.  This product is a small quantity of liquid that is applied once a month to your cats skin.  Once absorbed, it will protect against fleas and heartworm disease, as well as treating and controlling hookworms, roundworms, and ear mites. 

If you are using an over-the-counter product, you must be very careful with their use.  Some of these products are highly toxic to pets.  Just because they are sold over-the-counter (without a prescription), it does not mean that they are safe or effective.  During parasite season, we regularly see cases of toxic overdose from certain over-the-counter flea and tick products.  They can be especially toxic to cats and smaller dogs. 

Similarly, some of these products simply don’t work very well, if at all (which I guess is better than being toxic).  We routinely see dogs and cats with fleas and/or ticks that are currently on the most popular and heavily advertised product on the market.  If you are using an over-the-counter product, please feel free to ask us about it, and we will give you an honest comparison to the products that we recommend and sell at our practice.

We strongly believe that when dealing with internal parasites (intestinal worms and heartworms), and external parasites (fleas, ticks, mosquitos), prevention is the key.  If your pet contracts any of these parasites, or the diseases they may cause, we can definitely treat them.  However, it would be much better for everybody (except the parasites) to prevent them.

So yes, the weather outside can be frightful, but let’s make it frightful only to the bugs!!!

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