July 17th, 2019

external parasites web pageELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times


With the warmer weather coming through the area, more pets and their owners will be out and about walking the streets. However, those pets could be bringing home something else after that evening walk through the neighborhood. 

Ticks, oak mites and other external parasites are currently beginning to make themselves known again, and it is important for pet owners to take precautions to limit that exposure. 

“Fleas are just now starting to become a problem for us and the season runs from the beginning of May until about October. We’ve had some cases in already and we’ve also seen some tick problems as well,” Dr. Dick Herbel with the Kansas Avenue Veterinary Clinic said. “Ticks aren’t as  prevalent in this area since it’s a pretty dry country but if you’re near a spot with a pond or really high weeds, those areas seem to have more problems than others and both fleas and ticks can be quite devastating. Usually if there’s a problem with pets with fleas or ticks and once you see them and need to treat them, there’s three things to treat: the pet, the yard and the house. You have to address all three of those to contain the situation and there’s some very good products for fleas and ticks now including pills and topical medicines to apply to the pet. There’s also a 3-month treatment now for cats for fleas and ticks. You also have to be careful with what you buy because there could be some reactions to the chemicals in the medicines so then you have to consider bathing and combing and then treating the environment and the house. It’s also possible it will get bad enough to where you’ll need to call an exterminator to treat the yard and the house. We’ve had some cases where homes have been infested and people have used over the counter products and while there’s many of those products that work very well, there could still be some residue or parasite eggs.”

And with the warmer weather just starting to come through, Herbel said now is the time to take some of those preventative measures for their pets. 

“Usually about now is a good time to start medication for the adult pets for prevention because a lot of medicines kill and repel parasites,” Herbel said. “So now is a good time to start that and it’s also important to make sure the weeds in the yard are trimmed down and cut, and there are also products that can be put on your yard. It’s also important to prevent pets from being exposed to other pets who may have parasites and it’s good to check your pets about once a week anyway. And biting and scratching is because the fleas will actually inject saliva into their bites and that can cause a reaction for the pet that makes them keep itching, so they might also need treatment for that.”

What should pet owners be on the lookout for should their canine or feline friend bring home some extra companions?

“Any sign of itching, scratching, redness, irritation, hair loss, those are all signs of a problem that could require attention, and you can also look at your pet and see what’s going on,” Herbel said. “Sometimes they’re hiding in difficult to reach spots and cause other problems. We’ve had several pets who have come in and had several ticks removed. Ticks can get bad enough to where they suck out enough blood to cause anemia and I’ve had some cases with fleas with the same thing, but that’s also typically with a heavy infestation. We’ve had some pets come in here who you can’t pet without running into a tick or swarm of fleas – some come in and shake their heads once and then there’s ticks everywhere all of a sudden.”

With this year especially expected to be a heavy one for ticks and other external parasites, Herbel offered some last advice for pet owners. 

“If you’re unsure about what to do, contact your veterinarian and they’ll be glad to help,” Herbel said. “There’s many different products that are good that can be used. Not every vet carries every product because of inventory circumstances, but there are many to choose from. Also be aware the chemicals in these medicines can cause reactions so be aware there could be side effects, that varies from pet to pet. And when you’re applying those chemicals, be sure to wear gloves because there could be reactions for humans too, so make sure you’re applying everything correctly and safely.”

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