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Norwich Bulletin - 5/1/2005

Tis The Season

The season is right around the corner - no, not Christmas and not even summer - it's the scary time of the year for outside cats and dogs - it's flea and tick season! In fact, even the indoor cats have to worry if they share their home with dogs who spend time out of doors.

Our pets are only thinking about the warmth of the sun, the trees and the lush grass that will soon be everywhere - the indoor/outdoor kitties know that soon their will be mice and birds and squirrels everywhere - just for them. And the dogs will be running through the fields, chasing Frisbees and balls with their owners and enjoying long walks through the woods. And the fleas and the ticks are lying in wait!

Thousands of flea eggs are getting ready to hatch, just waiting to invade your cats and dogs. We all know what fleas can do to your pet, your home and, even you or your children. Flea bites cause severe itching for everyone. Dogs and cats scratch and chew themselves until they are missing hair and end up with inflamed skin. A large infestation of fleas on your pet can cause anemia. Anemia causes weakness, weight loss and decreased appetite - depending on how long the condition has been going on, your animal companion could require simple antibiotics or a blood transfusion. Kittens can even die from this if the infestation is severe enough!

Fleas are also the cause of tapeworms - another problem pet owners face. If a cat or dog eats a flea while grooming or chewing, and if the flea is infected, your pet then becomes a host body to tapeworm. And then there are the fleas that cause heartworm in our beloved pets - a dangerous and potentially fatal worm, with a somewhat painful treatment.

And don't forget the ticks - they may be blind and deaf, but they know when a warm-blooded body brushes up against them. And they also can cause lyme disease for our canine pals. And when these little leeches are sucking the blood out of our pets, they too, can be causing anemia and other problems for our pets.

Summer is not necessarily a healthy time for our animals and it is up to us to protect them. The easiest way to prevent any of these pests from infecting your cat would be to keep it indoors. However, that isn't possible with dogs and even many cats (like mine) have a cat safe fenced in area that allows them to climb trees, chase bugs and sun on the rocks. Therefore, they must be protected from early May to mid November.

I used Frontline or Revolution on all of my animals because it is easy and effective. My cats are wormed each Spring and late Fall and I clean their ears every month to check for ear mites. If the cats and dogs are going to be outside, there is a chance that they can pick up any of these parasites. Frontline and Advantage are now available through the internet at reduced costs. I do caution my readers not to use over the counter topical spot treatments as there are many cats that can use vet prescribed treatments but are severely allergic to the ingredients in the over the counter medications. Allergies that have resulted in tragic deaths.

Less expensive and less effective methods of flea control are collars that repel fleas, shampoos, sprays and periodic dips. It is important to make sure you do not use products on cats that are intended for dogs or vice versa. Read labels - be careful and do not ignore the fleas. Once they get on your pets and into your home, you then have a real problem for everyone.

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