Beware of Flea and Tick Infestations

UPDATED: April 09, 2014

Webster’s Dictionary defines infest (infestation) as: to spread or swarm in or over in a troublesome manner, or, to live in or on as a parasite. Wow, all veterinarians can relate and have memories and stories that would entirely support Mr. Webster’s definition.

One particular incident stands out in my mind: it happened several years ago about this time of year. A Boxer was presented to be very weak, anemic and very thin. This particular patient also had the most severe infestation of ticks I have ever witnessed. So many in fact, that we could not see into her ear canals! Between her toes there were ticks, she had them everywhere – and being a short haired breed they were very visible. It was very gross, and very sad to say the least.

When the owner was questioned, they said that this only happened within that last 2-3 days, as “a swarm of ticks just flew in and attacked my dog.” Now, if you have ever seen a tick this would be a great feat since ticks don’t have wings.  Rather than chastise this owner, our main concern was the well-being of this poor dog. Some tests were run, and she was very anemic, in part due to the overwhelming number of blood-engorged ticks, and also due to the ticks transmitting a disease called Ehrlichiosis. No other tick-transmitted diseases were found on testing.

The dog was hospitalized, the ticks were addressed, a transfusion was done (due to severe anemia), other support was given, and the Ehrlichiosis parasite was also treated. Fortunately, this dog did make a full recovery with time. Not only was this very unfortunate for the poor dog who suffered, but also a very costly neglectful situation.

Spring is upon us (finally here in the Midwest where I practice) and ticks are here. In some areas of the country this can actually be a year-round problem. They can transmit many diseases in as little as 48 hours when they grab a meal from your pet. Besides just being gross and disgusting, signs of tick-borne disease can be very difficult to detect in both pets and people. Therefore, flea and tick preventative measures are key such as: SENTRY Natural Defense or SENTRY Fiproguard Plus IGR as examples. These are inexpensive, effective, easy to apply and will help to ensure you won’t have a tick or flea infestation.

-Photo Credit: From flickr by Marilyn Jane

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