Protecting your dog when the heat and rain breed parasites

Heat and rain bring parasites that can plague your dog. Photo: Getty
Heat and rain bring parasites that can plague your dog. Photo: Getty

Parasites proliferate when rainy season arrives and temperatures rise, posing a threat to our animal companions.

The coming season is a time to take special care of your cat or dog, which are vulnerable to ticks, fleas and heartworm, the latter of which is spread by mosquitoes.

Ticks

Bathing animals regularly helps control the presence of ticks.

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“It is impossible that they do not have” ticks right now, Alberto Us Segovia, a doctor at the Merida Veterinary Clinic, told Diario de Yucatán.

“Before, in the cold season, they stopped reproducing and the population decreased a little. Now, with heat all year, they are reproducing constantly,” he says.

High temperatures create a favorable environment for the proliferation of the ectoparasite, a parasite that lives on the host’s exterior. The consequences for the animal’s health range from dermatological problems to infectious diseases.

When constantly drawing blood, a tick can cause anemia, a decrease in red blood cells; or thrombocytopenia, low platelets. When the pet defends itself by scratching, the resulting wound could become infected.

The most worrisome risk is the transmission of bacteria that cause diseases such as erichia, anaplasma and piroplasm.

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Fleas

Us Segovia says that the most common consequences of fleas are dermatological problems. While some pets are able to tolerate flea bites, others can develop allergic dermatitis and suffer from sores and skin loss.

That the flea, unlike the tick, is not a great threat to human health. But if the pet usually climbs on the furniture or the bed, fleas could be spread to people.

Mange

More difficult to fight, mites can tunnel under the skin causing mange.

Mange is caused by several species of tiny mites that can reside in your dog’s skin and hair follicles.

“They are more difficult to fight, since they are making tunnels under the skin,” says veterinarian Us Segovia.

To treat a dog with mange, a bath with the same tick medication is not enough. Stronger medicine, specific to mites, is required.

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Heartworm

Mosquito bites, more common in rainy season, are more than annoying. To your pet, they can be fatal.

Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal disease. It is caused by foot-long worms that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body.

A dog is a natural host for heartworms, which can live inside the canine to adulthood, mate and produce offspring.

“If we do not undertake a regular deworming, it can develop and cause heart problems to puppies,” warns the veterinarian.

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Signs of heartworm disease may include a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite and weight loss. As heartworm disease progresses, pets may develop heart failure and the appearance of a swollen belly due to excess fluid in the abdomen.

But sometimes a dog seems perfectly healthy, and the problem is detected during a routine visit to the vet.

Prevention

Beyond having your dog or cat wear a tick-and-flea collar, Us Segovia advises pet owners bathe the dog regularly, either at home or at the veterinarian’s office, with tick control products. Pets should have basic blood tests two to three times a year, he said.

And take care of yourself, as well. Brush and trim your own hair to reduce the likelihood that you’re personally hosting ticks or fleas. —Valentina Boeta Madera, Diario de Yucatán

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