YARMOUTH, Maine, Aug. 07, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Fleas are a warm weather nuisance and disease-bearing ticks are a year-round threat to pets and their owners whenever temperatures rise above freezing, reports Yarmouth Veterinary Center. Tick bites are particularly dangerous, because they carry bacteria causing painful and fatiguing illnesses such as Lyme disease.
"Summer is an active time for both kinds of parasites," says Dr. Louise LeBoeuf, DVM, of Yarmouth Veterinary Center. She adds that summer's increased outdoor activity raises pet exposure. "Fortunately, you can minimize flea and tick bites easily," Dr. LeBoeuf says. Steps to take include treating pets with insecticidal medications once a month.
For dogs, Dr. LeBoeuf suggests a chewable tablet called NexGard. It is safe for canines that are more than eight weeks old and weigh at least four pounds. Dr. LeBoeuf recommends Frontline Gold for cats. It is an insecticidal oil applied once a month to the skin between the cat's shoulders -- a location that is difficult to lick.
Pet owners can also keep parasites under control by regularly examining their pets' skin.
For fleas, it is particularly important to check moist areas such as armpits, ears, groin and anus. Running a fine-toothed flea comb through fur and down to a pet's skin also may produce evidence, including tiny black specks of excrement referred to as "flea dirt."
Dr. LeBoeuf notes that although fleas may not be visible, it is possible to observe pet behavior for their presence. Rashes and nonstop scratching or batting at ears are signs.
"Ticks generally are easier to locate than fleas," Dr. LeBoeuf says, "because they are usually larger. They also don't move much once they bite and attach themselves."
Checking for ticks involves combing fingers through a pet's fur to feel for tiny bumps that need inspection.
Owners should give particular attention to signs of red, irritated skin and to dark, moist areas that these dangerous insects prefer. Similar to fleas, they may be so good at hiding that veterinary inspection is necessary to find them.
Tick removal requires grasping it close to the pet's skin with fine-tipped tweezers and pulling it straight out.
"Don't crush or twist the tick," Dr. LeBoeuf warns, "because that can cause it to release bacteria into your pet's bloodstream. Put the tick in alcohol to kill it; then wash your hands thoroughly just in case you picked up any bacteria from touching it."
More information about fleas, ticks and other pet health issues is available by contacting calling Yarmouth Veterinary Center at (207) 846-6515. The full service clinic is open for veterinary visits Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon. Additional information can be found on their website at http://yarmouthvetcenter.com/.
Yarmouth Veterinary Center, (207) 846-6515
Source: Yarmouth Veterinary Center