WARSAW — The days are starting to warm up as spring approaches, and springtime is tick-time, which means it’s time to start taking preventative measures, especially for those who can’t take those measures themselves; family pets.
One tick-borne illness is Lyme disease, which is transmitted by the deer tick. According to Dr. Katie Van Dyke, Lake City Animal Clinic, Lyme disease symptoms in pets comes in two different forms. One form is arthritic-type signs: Limping, fever, favoring a leg and swollen lymph nodes. Sometimes symptoms can be mistaken for old age.
The second form affects the kidneys and the animal will exhibit signs of kidney disease: Excessive fluid intake, decreased appetite, weight loss and lethargy, just to name a few.
Van Dyke says northeastern Indiana is becoming a hotbed of tick activity, but proper preventative measures can safeguard the family pet against the disease. Van Dyke said there is a Lyme disease vaccine, but is not in the “core” vaccines given to pets in their routine shots. She recommends the vaccine for dogs that live around tall grasses, for hunting dogs or those that like to go on long walks in wooded areas.
The tick isn’t the only parasite that is prevalent in the springtime; the mosquito is another parasite your pet needs safeguarded against.
Heartworm disease is mosquito-borne and it infects a cat or dog with foot-long worms that live in the heart or lungs of an animal and can lead to lung disease or heart failure. “Pipes get clogged [from the worms] and they go into failure because of it,” Van Dyke stated.
If a dog does become infected with heartworms it is usually treatable, but not so with cats. A cat’s physiology is not an ideal place for worms to inhabit, unlike a dog. In a dog, worms will grow to adulthood and breed, but not in a cat. In a cat the worms cannot breed and will die, but they can still leave respiratory damage behind.
Van Dyke said, “It’s easily prevented through a vet with a once a month injectable heartworm medication that lasts six months.” She said the injection will also take care of intestinal parasites.
Paw Rescue gives a few tips on how to protect your pets:
- Use heartworm preventatives.
- Keep pets indoors in the evening when mosquitoes are usually more active.
- Change outdoor water bowls, as [standing] water is a breeding ground for the mosquito.
- Do not use any products that contain DEET, as pets are sensitive to it and may develop neurological problems from its use.
- “Avoid using pest control products with concentrated essential oils such as tea tree, pennyroyal and d-limonine. These concentrates have caused weakness, paralysis, liver problems and seizures in pets, plus their effectiveness is not proven.“