Is the warm weather “bugging” you and your pets?

By Gail Schroder, DVM

I love warm, sunny, summer days. Guess who else does? Bugs! We live in harmony with so many flying, crawling, marching, and buzzing critters. If you’re not too grossed out by them, they can be appreciated as beautiful creatures that are essential for our ecosystem. That is, when they aren’t biting, stinging, or infesting you or your pets! So here’s what you need to know about how to keep everyone living in harmony together…

Did you know a flea can jump up to 100 times its own height? That’s equivalent to a human jumping 200 feet in the air! If you feel like your flea control just isn’t working as well as it used to, you’re not alone. There are concerns recently about fleas becoming resistant to some of the older flea control products. The good news is there are lots of newer products that work great. So ask your vet for something new if you’re not happy with your current product. My favorites are Bravecto or Comfortis, and Cheristin for cats with severe flea allergies who won’t eat a pill.

If you’re having problems with fleas, there’s a good chance you’ll run into the flea’s best friend, the tapeworm. Pets get tapeworms from grooming off their fleas, or from eating a mouse or other critter that carries fleas. If you see what looks like little rice grains or sesame seeds stuck to your pet’s bedding or fur near the anus, those are tapeworms. You can get a tapeworm dewormer from your vet or at most pet stores without a prescription.

Who’s the scariest parasite out there? Ticks of course! There are 20 different kinds of ticks found in Oregon, but only 4 of those will bite humans. Check out www.tickencounter.org for more info on ticks and a cool tick identification chart. (Or am I the only one who thinks that’s a fun thing to do…?) What’s the best way to remove a tick from you or your pet’s skin? One of my favorite gadgets is the Ticked Off tick remover, a $2.00 tool that painlessly removes the whole tick, and without having to touch the tick. Burning or using household tweezers is not recommended, as it could increase the chance of disease transmission to the host animal, and often leaves the head of the tick in the skin, which can cause skin irritation.

Even bees and wasps are an important part of our natural world. (Just don’t get in their way!) What do you do if your dog gets stung? I recommend giving your dog Benadryl to help prevent an allergic reaction. Give the size that is closest to your dog’s weight, rounding up to the nearest pill size. For example, a 50 lb dog needs 50mg of Benadryl. A 60 lb dog can get 75mg. Make sure to give plain Benadryl, not a multi-symptom cold medication. But if you notice any signs of a serious allergic reaction (such as swelling of the face, hives, coughing, or lethargy) take your pet to the vet immediately!

And don’t forget the Heartworm preventative for your dog! Heartworms are carried by mosquitos (in a tiny purse way too small to be seen with the naked eye.) Although rare in this area, the damage they can cause to the heart and lungs is completely preventable with that monthly pill.

And have a safe, itch-free, sting-free, bite-free, fun summer with your pets!