Seasonal Care

Spring Diseases and Outdoor Critters

Two dogs playing in a filed

Spring is the time of year that brings longer days and warmer temperatures. And with the thaw, pesky critters often become more active and carry with them the potential for preventable diseases. Read on to discover some common bugs and critters that may be harmful to your pet and how to best protect them.

Ticks and Lyme Disease

Although ticks are active most of the year, spring is a time when they become more active as the weather warms up. Ticks can be found in tall grasses, forest floor leaves and brush. It may surprise you, but ticks can be found in your backyard as well as forests and wooded areas. Your pet may encounter these tiny parasites as you spend more time outdoors.

Tick-borne illnesses can be serious. Lyme disease, one of the most common tick-borne illnesses, is a bacteria that can be transmitted to dogs and other animals by certain ticks1,2. Lyme disease resulting from tick bites has been detected in nearly all 50 states, but those who live in the Upper Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions have a higher risk of being exposed to ticks and should take extra precaution.

Fleas and Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Fleas are similar to ticks in that they become more active during warmer temperatures and are capable of living in nearly all types of environments. In fact, most pets are susceptible to fleas, even indoor pets. That's why many veterinarians recommend flea preventatives for all pets in a household, regardless of if they go outside.

Fleas can be a major problem for dogs, cats and the whole family. Simple itching caused by fleas can be irritating enough for a dog or cat. But fleas can cause more serious health problems, too. Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is the most common dermatologic disease of domestic dogs within the United States3. Cats are at risk of developing FAD4 too. Fleas are also responsible for transmitting the dog tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) to dogs, cats and even humans. In addition, fleas can spread bacterial diseases5,6.

Mosquitoes and Heartworm Disease

Spring is a time when both people and pets are at risk for mosquito bites. Heartworm disease is especially dangerous for pets due to parasitic worms that are spread through mosquito bites. It's important that pets are protected with heartworm preventatives year-round. Whether they take an oral supplement, use topical solution, or receive an injectable from their veterinarian, it is also vital that they are screened for heartworm disease during their semi-annual veterinarian appointments.

How to Best Protect Your Pet

Although spring is a wonderful season for temperature changes and more time outdoors, it is also a time when your pets are more susceptible to diseases from outdoor creatures. Be sure to ask your veterinarian if a flea and tick product, like Bravecto®, or heartworm product, like Tri-Heart® Plus, are the best preventative measures for your pet.

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/tick-borne/
  2. https://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/AnimalTransmittedDiseases
  3. Fisara, P., Sargent, R. M., Shipstone, M., von Berky, A., & von Berky, J. (2014). An open, self-controlled study on the efficacy of topical indoxacarb for eliminating fleas and clinical signs of flea-allergy dermatitis in client-owned dogs in Queensland, Australia. Veterinary Dermatology, 25(3), 195–e49. http://doi.org/10.1111/vde.12132
  4. Rust, M. K. (2017). The Biology and Ecology of Cat Fleas and Advancements in Their Pest Management: A Review. Insects, 8(4), 118. http://doi.org/10.3390/insects8040118
  5. Blagburn BL, Dryden MW. Biology, treatment, and control of flea and tick infestations. Vet Clin N Am Small Anim Pract. 2009;39(6):1173-1200
  6. Dryden M, Rust M. The cat flea: biology, ecology and control. Vet Parasitol. 1994;52:1-19

Bravecto is for dogs and cats 6 months of age or older. Bravecto Chew and Bravecto Topical for Dogs is approved for pregnant, breeding and lactating dogs. Bravecto Chew: Side effects may include vomiting, decreased appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, excessive thirst and flatulence. Bravecto Topical for Dogs: Side effects may include vomiting, hair loss, diarrhea, lethargy, decreased appetite, and moist dermatitis/rash. Bravecto Topical for Cats: Side effects may include vomiting, itching, diarrhea, hair loss, decreased appetite, lethargy, and scabs/ulcerated lesions.

All dogs should be tested for heartworm infection before starting a preventive program. In a small percentage of ivermectin/pyrantel treated dogs, digestive and neurological side effects may occur.

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