Simple Steps to Prevent Illness Can Save You Money – and Heartache

UPDATED: March 30, 2014

Fleas and ticks are far more than tiny nuisances. These parasites can quickly catch a convenient ride on your dog or cat, and, if unchecked, can infest your home, putting both you and your pets at risk for serious illness.

I remember the first time I found a tick on our dog. I was about 10, and we’d moved out to the country. While petting our miniature schnauzer, my fingers felt a curious lump. Upon examination, I found a hideous, eight-legged “bug,” the size of a grape. It was warm to the touch (filled with blood) and my mother quickly removed it and washed the wound it left behind. Not knowing better, I stepped on the swollen parasite and gagged at the subsequent explosion.

Fast forward: While taking a zoology class at the university, I found myself exposed to way more information than I ever wanted to know about internal and external parasites. (It nearly put me off sushi for life.) I quickly decided then that the best thing to do about fleas and ticks was keep them off my pets and out of my house.

Not only are ticks just…gross…they’re a disease-spreading vector. They can carry a host of diseases that can sicken (if not outright kill) you and your pet. Tick-borne illnesses that affect humans include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (which, by the way, generally peaks in June and July), Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Erlichiosis and Tularemia (just to name a few.) Symptoms and complications from these illnesses vary from mild to severe and, in some cases, can be fatal.

Because of their size, fleas might seem to be less offensive than a bloated tick. But fleas can quickly cause an infestation in your home, and spread equally threatening diseases.

Consider this: We think of bubonic plague (the “Black Death” of the Middle Ages) as an ancient, life-threatening disease. But plague is still with us and fleas help spread it. The Centers for Disease Control note the most common cases of plague in recent years have occurred in northern New Mexico and northern Arizona; southern Colorado; California; southern Oregon, and western Nevada. (Bubonic plague made the national news last year when a Colorado girl contracted the disease.)

Fleas also are vectors of Murine Typhus, spotted fever and even “cat scratch fever.”

Now, let’s think about cost.

By simply keeping these tiny terrors off your pet (and off you, and out of your house), you fight the threat they pose to your health.

Preventative treatments can include anything from yard sprays and home powders, to the wide variety of squeeze-on preventatives, sprays, collars and dog and cat powders and shampoos that battle these bugs. Depending on your situation, you may need to treat for pests that are already present, or treat to make sure that, if your pet is exposed to fleas or ticks, the preventative steps you’ve taken will stop the bugs before they ever get a chance to get a blood meal.

The costs for preventative treatments will vary, but an ounce of prevention is definitely better than a pound of cure, in this case.

Compare that to the cost of medical or veterinary treatments. A simple office visit (for either you or your pet) can cost well over the amount of a squeeze-on flea and tick treatment. For humans, adding the cost of testing, diagnosis, the cost of medications, such as antibiotics, and even time missed from work all adds up quickly. While some diseases do respond to antibiotics, in some cases, long-term complications can make these diseases even more costly.

Even worse, medications may not be available. For example, on June 7, USA Today reported that the most common antibiotic used to treat Lyme disease, Doxycycline, is on the federal drug shortage list.

What’s the best bet? Play it safe. Follow CDC precautions to keep fleas and ticks off you, and apply flea and tick preventatives like PetArmor Plus IGR to keep pests from latching onto you pets.

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