Yesterday I saw a dog that was experiencing intense itching. I looked at the dog and found fleas, although I knew the owners had purchased a flea and tick preventative from me. When I asked them when they had last applied the product they replied, “We thought flea season was over.” I hear this all the time during the Fall and Spring. Remember, fleas and ticks thrive best when the temperature is in the 50s to 60s and it’s wet. Lewis and Clark wrote in their journals about how bad the flea problem was in the Northwest. Why? Up there it’s cool and moist almost all of the time, just like Vermont in the Spring and Fall. I can’t emphasize it enough: Keep your animal protected. You and he will be a lot happier and healthier for it.
As if fleas, Lyme disease and just the nastiness of ticks weren’t enough to prompt you to use flea and tick control, now there are two more diseases to worry about: Ehrlichia and Anaplasmosis. These are tick-borne diseases that are beginning to be seen in Vermont.
Ehrlichia can affect dogs and cats, initially causing depression, fever, weight loss, discharge from the eyes and nose and a whole host of other problems. These initial symptoms can last one to two weeks and after that the animal can become severely anemic, have severe weight loss, bleeding tendencies and become very susceptible to secondary bacterial infections
Anaplasmosis only affects dogs and is more prevalent in the Fall months when the particular tick that carries it is most active. With anaplasmosis owners will notice fevers, loss of appetite, lethargy and a reluctance to move. On the inside the dog’s white cell count will be severely decreased. This will cause the dog to be more susceptible to other types of infections. Unfortunately, no vaccine exists for either of these diseases, so our only way to prevent them is to keep ticks from infesting your dog and cat.
I’ve said it before but I will say it again. Over-the-counter flea and tick medications may seem like a good deal because they are cheap. They are cheap for a reason: They don’t work. I know that the products you can get from your veterinarian are more expensive but this is one of those cases where you get what you pay for. Please consult your veterinarian to determine the best flea and tick preventative for your pet.