Protecting Pets from Fleas and Ticks

Dog Scratching with Fleas and TicksWith the return of warm weather, everyone wants to spend more time outdoors—including household pets such as dogs and cats. Like people, pets are also at risk for the serious health complications that can arise from tick and flea bites. Pet owners need to take the necessary precautions to protect their pets this spring.

Fleas and Ticks in Tennessee

Blacklegged deer ticks are known for spreading Lyme disease to people, but pets are also susceptible to this serious disease, along with American dog tick-vectored Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Pet owners in East Tennessee should be especially vigilant against American dog tick, the brown dog tick, and the lone star tick which are most likely to affect area dogs and cats.

Pets sickened with Lyme disease may suffer from fever, decreased appetite, painful joints, limping and lethargy. In severe cases, kidney disease can also occur. American dog ticks are larger than black-legged deer ticks and can cause tick paralysis when a female dog tick attaches near a pet’s spinal cord. Tick paralysis can lead to muscle weakness, loss of coordination and, in some cases, death from respiratory failure.

Fleas are another common pet pest that can cause serious health complications. The itchy red bumps left by fleas can lead to excessive scratching, anemia, dermatitis, and tapeworms. Fleas can also become a problem when pets bring them inside the home. Once there, they can reproduce in bedding, carpets or furniture.

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommends these tips for protecting pets from ticks and fleas:

  • Check pets frequently for ticks and fleas. Be aware of excessive scratching and licking.
  • Avoid walking dogs in tall grass, where fleas and ticks often hide.
  • Bathe pets after walks or playtime with other animals.
  • Frequently wash pet bedding, collars, and plush toys.
  • Wash bed linens and vacuum carpets, floors, and furniture frequently.

If you suspect a problem around your home contact us to talk over flea and tick treatments to protect your pet/s and your family.

June & July Worst Month for Ticks in Tennessee

The Crossville Chronicle reported last week on why June and July are such fun months for ticks in Tennessee.

Area Map Provided by Center for Disease Control
Area Map Provided by Center for Disease Control

Lyme disease, which is spread by black legged ticks (also called deer ticks or bear ticks), is rare in Tennessee, despite being the most common tick-borne disease in the United States. Here most reported cases of human infection are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) and Ehrlichiosis. The lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum, is the source of those diseases. (Lone star ticks are reddish brown in color with a white or light-colored spot on the back and a long snout.)

However, tick species-ranges are expanding, which has made effective treatment more difficult in recent years. Tick-borne illnesses now show up in areas where they were not previously found. Babesiosis, a problem caused by microscopic parasites attacking red blood cells, was not reported in Tennessee prior to 2009. Also, ticks are now more commonly found to be carrying (and transmitting) not just one but multiple diseases.

Tick activity starts when temperatures warm in spring and lasts until fall. In Tennessee, June and July have the most reports of tick transmitted infections. Tick numbers (and incidents of tick-borne illnesses) normally drop when the weather turns really hot and dry in summertime. However, tick levels stay higher than normal later in the season during years with plentiful summer rainfall and high humidity (like 2014).