If you haven’t already noticed, ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes are ready to take advantage of warm blooded animals and people; especially now that the weather is warmer and the air is more humid (actually, did you know that you really have to worry about them all year long?). Are you ready to do battle with these unwanted pests to protect you and your loved ones (including pets)? Here’s why you need to take them seriously and embrace prevention.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) is a non-profit dedicated to educating professionals like veterinarians and the general public like pet owners about parasites that impact the health of dogs, cats, and people. They predict that this year will be a bad one for ticks in several states, including Ohio. See the link above for the most up to date data. They can spread several diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis. While treatable, it is much better to prevent a tick bite than to treat a resulting disease because once symptoms occur they can be hard to diagnose and more expensive than prevention. Avoiding tall grasses where ticks like to live is one way to prevent tick bites.
Fleas are another problem. They can transmit diseases like the bubonic plague. Thought that was a disease only for the history books? Not so. Luckily, the organism that causes the plague (Yersinia pestis) isn’t commonly present in Northeast Ohio, but it is found in other parts of the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that less than 20 naturally occurring human cases of plague are reported in the United States each year, usually in rural areas of the Southwest (e.g. New Mexico, California, Colorado, and Texas). With appropriate flea prevention methods, you shouldn’t have to worry about them. On an interesting side note, fleas prefer to feed on pets or wildlife, but people will do in a pinch.
Mosquitoes are not only pesky biters of human flesh; they can transmit heartworm to your dog or cat. These worms literally live in the heart of your pet and can cause severe heart disease that can kill your pet. While treatable in dogs, treatment is expensive. There are no good treatments for heartworm in cats. Knowing how to prevent mosquitoes from breeding is key; they like to breed in still pools of water, like in unused tires left outside in the rain, or small wading pools that aren’t changed out frequently. Of course there are preventative medications for your pets, as prescribed by your veterinarian, for accidental mosquito bites.
Notice a trend? Embracing prevention is better and cheaper than treatment. One Health Organization is dedicated to making sure all pet owners can prevent diseases like those caused by parasites. For more information, please visit www.OneHealth.org.
Thanks for reading,
Dr. Anna M. van Heeckeren, MS, DVM
Founder, President, & CEO of One Health Organization