If there’s one pest that every pet owner knows and dreads, it’s the flea. As small as they are, fleas can be a major health hazard for dogs and cats. Fleas can survive very low temperatures, so they’re still very much a problem in the San Jose area all year round.
Fleas can irritate a pet’s skin and cause scratching, which leads to skin inflammation, infection and hair loss. Some pets are allergic to flea bites, so just one bite can set off a very uncomfortable skin reaction. Fleas can also infect pets with tapeworms and other diseases. If a flea infestation goes untreated, it can lead to life-threatening anemia; this is particularly dangerous for young puppies and kittens.
Fleas are small, so they’re not easy to spot. However, some warning signs include:
- Scratching or licking
- Visible rashes, scabs or hair loss
- Visible flea dirt– dark specks of dried blood left behind in the fur
There are many flea preventatives available. Products from your veterinarian are more effective than over-the-counter medications. We offer oral chews, liquid for the skin, and long-lasting flea/tick collars. We are happy to discuss which option is best for your individual pet.
Have you checked your pet for ticks lately? Although they are less common than fleas, ticks are present in the Bay Area. Most people discover ticks on their dog after going on walks, particularly through areas with a lot of grass or foliage.
Ticks can spread infections such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Babesiosis. Fortunately, these conditions are not common in the Bay Area. Ticks need to be removed safely and completely, and we are happy to help if you find one on your pet.
We offer prevention in the form of oral chews, liquid for the skin and long-lasting medicated collars. Ticks can survive year-round in the San Jose climate, so pets can still be affected in winter. If you take your dog for walks through grassy areas, hiking trails, or other nature areas, consider talking to your veterinarian about tick control options.
Heartworm is a blood parasite that infects dogs (and rarely cats). High risk areas include the Mendocino/Santa Rosa area, Santa Cruz Mountains, and parts of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Heartworm is spread by mosquito bites. Tiny worms in mosquito saliva travel through the pet’s bloodstream and eventually grow into adult worms in the heart and lungs. Mature heartworms can be up to a foot long, and they cause serious heart disease. Affected dogs do not show signs of illness until the disease is advanced, and they have permanent heart damage even after treatment.
Fortunately, heartworm is easily preventable with monthly tablets. We recommend heartworm prevention all year round as well as blood testing every 1-2 years for all dogs.
Intestinal parasites can be very common and pose health risks to both the pets and the owners. All puppies and kittens get parasites from birth, which is why we routinely deworm them at a young age. Pets with parasites may or may not have diarrhea or visible worms in their stool. Pick up animal waste promptly, use common sense when handling the stool, and wash your hands afterward.
Virtually all parasites can be eliminated with the proper identification and treatment. We recommend annual fecal exams and monthly prevention of roundworms, hookworms and whipworms.
If you would like to learn more about how we can help you protect your pet from fleas, ticks, worms and other parasites, call (408) 293-3448 to schedule an appointment.