Though Vermont’s cold winters keep a lot of bugs in check, there are still many common ones that you and your pet may encounter. How do you know when to race to our ER or when to wait for your veterinarian? First, know your enemy, as horrifying as it is to see one of those creepy crawlies clinging to your pet don’t panic, most are simply and easily vanquished.
Ticks: Remove them by pulling from the base where it is attached. You can use tweezers or special store bought tick removers. It is always best to remove a tick as soon as possible to reduce the risk of transferring tick borne illnesses like Lyme. After you remove the tick, make sure to keep in mind to get your pet tested. The testing available may detect antibodies in the blood from 3 weeks to several months post exposure. Make sure to monitor your dog for the most common signs of tick borne illness such as; stiffness, painful joints, lameness, lethargy, and fever. Check with your veterinarian about preventative medication, we see far more emergencies due to tick medication applications than for ticks themselves.
Fleas: These tiny pests can only be treated and prevented with medication, and all pets in the house must be treated. Other than blood loss and anemia from severe infestations, a minor flea problem is not too concerning, but should be addressed quickly. Tapeworms are passed from pet to pet by fleas, so preventing the fleas also make tapeworm infection less likely. Some pets can be allergic, and develop skin issues. Again check with your veterinarian about proper medication and application, this is another toxicity we commonly see at BEVS.
Worms: Most worms hosted by our pets are difficult to see without a fecal exam. The most common worms we can see with our naked eye in dogs and cats are roundworms (look like pieces of spaghetti) and tapeworms (their segments look like rice grains). If you are unfortunate enough to discover these in your pets stool or on their rear the most important thing to remember is collecting a stool sample for your veterinarian, and remembering basic hygiene. Roundworms are transferred via the fecal oral route. Pick up after your pets “business” and wash your hands thoroughly afterward will prevent reinfection. They do not prefer humans as a host but it does happen. The best route to treat worms is having a veterinarian perform a fecal test that identifies the parasite which helps determine which deworming medication is most effective. Most dewormers work quickly and effectively but your veterinarian may recommend rechecking the stool to make sure the infection is cleared.
Hit and Run Stingers and Biters: These are usually bees, hornets or wasps. Most of the time you will see their mark and not the insects themselves. Pets can be allergic to bites and stings just like humans. They have similar reactions to allergic humans ranging from minor swelling, hives and itching to severe swelling and respiratory distress. If you are questioning the severity of a reaction do not hesitate to call your veterinarian or BEVS. It is always best to play it safe in this scenario as a bad reaction can become life threatening quickly.
written by Christina Kim