pug with stuffed flea toyFleas and ticks are those pesky little bugs that attack our pets and spread disease. They are plentiful here in central Virginia, especially as the weather begins to warm up, and cause lots of problems for our pets.

At Earlysville Animal Hospital, we have great monthly oral products for dogs to prevent fleas and ticks. For cats, we still need to use either topical products or modern and specialized flea and tick collars. Ask us what parasite preventatives we recommend for your pet!

Fleas are the most common external parasite of dogs and cats in the United States. Because of their life cycle, it takes several months to control them once a pet has fleas so prevention is definitely the best way to go.

Flea bites cause an itchy rash that is worse if the pet is allergic to fleas. Heavy infestations cause anemia and death, especially in puppies and kittens. They also spread disease including tapeworms, hemoplasmas, plague, tularemia, Rickettsia typhi, Rickettsia felis and Bartonella.

As bad as fleas are, ticks may even be worse! They also suck blood when attached to your pet and the bites can be itchy. More importantly, they commonly spread disease.

In our area, Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are common diseases spread by tick bites. Lyme disease is so common here that one out of six dogs tested in Albemarle County in 2015 was positive for Lyme. Cats are susceptible to the rapidly deadly disease, Cytauxzoonosis, from the bite of a Lone Star Tick.

For more information, including prevalence maps that show incidence of disease in the USA, Virginia, and each county in Virginia, visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council's website here.