Fleas, heartworms, and ticks are three of the most common pests in the Richardson area that can cause problems for your pet. This post outlines how to detect and prevent each one and details the treatments and products we provide.
Fleas turn your dog or cat’s coat into their new home and, besides being irritating, they also pose a dangerous threat to your furry friend because they can transmit disease. Tapeworms, flea allergy dermatitis, anemia, and haemobartonellosis are all carried by fleas and can be passed on to your animal through a single bite.
It is important to check your pet for fleas regularly. If they’re scratching more than usual or have red pimples and bumps, this could mean fleas. You can do a visual check by looking for small, brown insects on thinly-haired areas when your pet is lying on its back.
Make sure that you treat your pet and clean your house on the same day. You need to do a deep clean on your home to get rid of any eggs. Vacuum all carpets, couches, under furniture, under beds, and especially around baseboards. After you vacuum, spray your house and yard with an insecticide that contains insect growth regulator (IGR). IGR works on flea larvae and developing eggs to ensure that they don’t grow to maturity. We recommend that you contact your local exterminator and have your yard and house treated safely. Most exterminators will have a 30 day guarantee for recurrence. Have them come out in two to three weeks no matter what because the encased portion of the flea life cycle could mean new fleas after you’ve dealt with the initial infestation.
The next step is to bring your pet into your vet for treatment. Your pet may still have pupal or cocoon stage fleas on them two weeks after you sprayed because pests in that stage are not affected by the chemicals. Once treated by a vet, your pet is walking around the house as a roaming exterminator with the medications we use to treat our pets. They include the IGR that is safe for us and our furry family. So although you may see new fleas after an infestation, the life cycle will have been interrupted and unable to reproduce. The remainder flea here and there will be just the naturally occurring ones from the outside that your pet will be a barrier for with the right preventions from your Veterinarian.
Ticks are another threat to your pet’s health that are common in the Richardson area. They can get on your pet after a run in the tall grass or brush and most commonly attach themselves to your pet’s head, neck, paws, or ears. Ticks can carry different diseases like Lyme disease, so it’s important to get your pet a blood test if they’ve had a tick to prevent any major complications.
You can use shampoos and collars for your pets that are designed to prevent ticks, but they aren’t the most effective means of preventing pests. Shampoos can be damaging to your pet’s coat and will only kill the pests on the pet at the time of bathing. There is no residual effect. Although tick collars can be very effective on ticks and fleas, most tick collars are fatally toxic to cats. They can also be a ligature hazard, so if you do use a dog or cat collar, make sure they have a safety pop off release. The most effective monthly preventives are topical treatments like Revolution for cats made by Zoetis and Frontline TriTak or NexGard by Merial for dogs. You can also help out your furry friend by keeping their outdoor play areas clean. In your own backyard, mow your lawn often and remove any tall weeds or brush. Do not leave out any food that might attract neighbourhood rodents carrying ticks. It is also important to avoid areas with long, tall grasses.
Removing a tick from your pet is fairly easy, but must be done with care. Have someone help hold your pet and then pluck the biting head and entire body from your pet using a pair of clean tweezers. Once you have removed and contained the tick, thoroughly clean both your hands and the bite area. Swab the area with rubbing alcohol after removing the tick. Don’t use alcohol before removing the tick, as it can stimulate the tick to regurgitate its stomach contents into your pet’s skin. Over the next few days, watch the area for any signs of infection. If there is anything that looks abnormal, bring your pet to a vet immediately to be tested.
Heartworms are especially common near the Gulf Coast. They can be transmitted to both dogs and cats from a female mosquito bite, but they’re most common in dogs. When your pet is infected with heartworms, the parasite enters their bloodstream as a microscopic worm. They are dangerous to your pet’s well-being because they block the flow of blood and cause inflammation in the lungs and pulmonary vessels.
There are several options available to prevent heartworms in your pets. We can prescribe oral tablets and/or topical solutions that you administer monthly. Some also include flea prevention in the same medication. It just depends on what environments your pet normally encounters, and we will recommend what’s best for you. If your pet coughs often, seems moderately tired after activity, or sometimes has trouble breathing, you should make an appointment for a heartworm test. Cats may also vomit, have a decreased appetite, and lose weight if infected. When symptoms persist longer than a few days, bring your animal in for a thorough examination with x-rays and ultrasound.
The treatment process for heartworms takes time with the help of a skilled veterinary expert. You will need to schedule several appointments for treatment and follow up x-rays, and regular checks are essential. A prescribed medication is also necessary to stop microfilariae (tiny larvae) in the bloodstream —these can develop into heartworms over time.
Above all else, prevention is the best medicine for protecting our pets against pests. We can teach you about high quality and affordable products that will protect your pet from pests. Give us a call to talk about a plan that works for you and your pet.