Flea and tick season is still upon us. The mosquitos have been dreadful in the wake of recent rains. This time of year, our pets are at risk of being bitten by fleas, ticks, mosquitos, and biting flies. Not only are these bites uncomfortable, these bites can transmit Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, Babesia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and heartworm disease. Ingesting fleas (cats and dogs may do this during self-grooming) can also transmit tapeworms. Having fleas and ticks on our pets brings these parasites into our homes, yards, and even beds. Humans can contract diseases from these parasites too – these vector-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Many of you, our pet owning clients, are intent on keeping their pets and their environments parasite free. In doing so, you may enthusiastically want to use one or more flea/tick/heartworm prevention products. Most heartworm meds are oral. Some flea and tick meds are oral and some are applied topically. The advantage of topically applied products are that they repel not only the fleas and ticks and prevent biting, they also repel other biting insects like mosquitos and biting flies. In preventing the bite, these repellant products also help prevent the transmission of rapidly spread diseases like heartworm disease. The advantage of oral medications are they cannot be rubbed or washed off, preventing exposure of humans (especially little humans aka children) to these products. In some cases, oral and topical flea/tick medications can be used concurrently.
Most important of all, please, PLEASE, please read the label – for information on how to use the product, the minimum age and weight for each product, how often to repeat the use, what parasites are controlled, what the side effects of medications are, and whether these are labelled for use in not only pregnant and nursing dogs, but any dog, male or female, used for breeding. These indications are important even if your female dog is not currently pregnant or nursing but if you intend to ever use her for breeding. The same goes for the male dogs – some products may affect semen quality.
Additionally, there are increasing reports that these products, to achieve maximum efficacy, should be used all year round. Yes, even in Wisconsin. We know there aren’t mosquitos in Wisconsin in winter, but the products are more effective if the blood and tissue levels remain high year round. And according to Wisconsin entomologist Phil Pellitteri, ticks can be active on a January day if the sun is out and it is 40 degrees. That can and does happen more years than not.
Remember – read the label and use products on the correct species (dogs and cats are not created equal), at the correct dose and interval, for the correct parasites, and only use products labeled for use in breeding, pregnant, and nursing animals for ANY dog, male or female, if you have them in a breeding program!