Monthly year-round external and internal parasite prevention is an essential component of basic animal husbandry. We share our home and our lives with our pets. By reducing their risk of contracting and harboring potentially harmful parasitic infections we improve the quality of their lives and ours.
High quality effective SAFE parasite preventatives are readily available and the staff at VCA Central Kitsap Animal Hospital are available 24/7 to discuss existing options.
Fleas are external parasites that can wreak havoc on the health of our companion animals as well as ourselves. Lifestyle and activity can increase the risk of contracting these parasites, however ALL PETS, including those that never leave the home, have risk, especially in regards to fleas. In Washington State, fleas are considered a year-round concern. Seasonal prevention use is not an appropriate practice as it may allow for the breeding cycle to restart and for repopulation to occur. A flea life cycle is usually over within 3-4 weeks, however can extend for almost a year depending on environmental conditions. Visible fleas, those seen on our pets, actually account for the smallest percent of the population and can be easily missed or assumed absent to the untrained eye. Visualization of fleas is an indicator of an established larger population of developing fleas in the home or yard.
Fleas feed on blood. Their preferential food is from our dog or cat, but if necessary they will feed upon us. People who are ???????flea allergic??????? may feel these feedings when they occur on themselves, but as we are not the normal host for the dog and cat flea, human flea bites are usually a sign an overwhelming flea infestation rather then an early indicator. Heavy infestations on our pets can lead to severe blood loss or anemia, and in some cases, even death. The act of feeding can also be painful or uncomfortable, causing our pets to scratch or chew at themselves. This can lead to excessive tooth wear and dental disease in addition to traumatized skin and secondary infections. Animals who are allergic to flea saliva will be even more sensitive to the presence and effects or fleas in their environment and will suffer increased ill effects.
In addition to the problems they cause by their feeding behavior, fleas carry a variety of diseases and parasites, some transmissible to us. Flea-borne or transmitted diseases include but are not limited to Bartonella (Cat Scratch Fever), Typhus, and Plague. Fleas also carry and transmit tapeworms.
Ticks are more of a risk for animals with access to outdoors and who live in more rural areas with wildlife. Seasonal tick prevention use is an acceptable practice in Washington State at this time, HOWEVER with more temperate winters, the appearance of ticks on our veterinary patients have been noted earlier and earlier each year, leading to the suspicion that year-round prevention use may be on the horizon.
There are a variety of species of ticks in our environment and depending on their stage of development, they may present in a variety of sizes. Ticks are attracted to carbon dioxide (gas produced when you exhale) and will seek out a living breathing host to feed upon. After finding a host they will attach and feed. Tick bites are not felt thus do not prompt a pet or person to scratch. When the tick has fed to fulfillment, they will detach and fall off.
Ticks carry a variety of diseases that can be transmitted to their host, animal and human, through their feeding behavior. Anaplasmosis, Babesiosia, Ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Rickettsiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tickborne relapsing fever, and Tularemia, are some examples of tick-borne diseases found within the United States.