As summer fades to fall, you should not skip your pet’s flea and tick prevention because of the colder weather. In fact, ticks are more active in the fall, and more likely to infect your pet with an assortment of illnesses. Even with frigid temperatures, fleas and ticks can still thrive and flourish, especially when they slip indoors, set up shop in your carpet and under your furniture, and wait until conditions are right to emerge and feast on your pet. 

Pet owners often believe their pets are safe from parasite infestations as the colder weather sets in, but that’s not the case. Avoid the panic caused by a flea invasion, the hurried trip to the local pet store for flea treatments, and the expense and hassle of an exterminator by administering year-round prevention.

How much does flea treatment cost?

Oh no. You accidentally missed a dose of flea and tick prevention, or thought it was too cold for parasites, and decided to wait till spring for your pet’s next dose. Now, you’re faced with an infestation. You have an uncontrollably itchy dog who shares your bed and keeps you awake all night with her scratching. Her hind end is hairless from her chewing. Your feet and ankles are covered in welts. These fleas must go, but at what price? The costs:

  • Hartz flea collar: $3.43
  • Flea shampoo: $4.99
  • Exterminator: $270
  • House foggers: $15
  • House spray: $25
  • Yard spray: $30
  • Antibiotics, shampoo, and steroids for flea allergy dermatitis: $150
  • Bravecto: $55
  • Your pet—and you—sleeping soundly in your bed: Priceless

Have you struggled with a flea infestation before? It’s incredibly time-consuming and expensive to eradicate these pests from your home, your yard, and your itchy pet. You can easily spend $500 on subpar flea treatments, with the possible need for follow-up home or pet treatments to fully eliminate the problem. Or, you can buy peace of mind for a tenth of the cost. One Bravecto chew protects your pet from fleas and ticks for three months. 

What diseases can my pet get from fleas and ticks?

In addition to the cost of treating your home, fleas and ticks can take a toll on your pet’s health. The most common diseases these parasites transmit include:

  • Lyme disease — Transmitted by black-legged ticks, or deer ticks, Lyme disease cases are on the rise in dogs and people. Many dogs have a subclinical infection, meaning they do not show signs until they are stressed or their immune system is compromised, but if your dog has an active Lyme infection, you may notice these signs:
    • Shifting leg lameness
    • Decreased appetite
    • Lethargy
    • Fever

The Lyme bacteria sometimes travels to the kidneys and causes inflammation in the blood filtration system. If left untreated, kidney failure will eventually set in, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and increased urination and thirst. Take care if your pet is diagnosed with Lyme disease, because that means ticks carrying this potentially deadly disease are in your area and can infect you, as well.

  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever — Carried by the American dog tick, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) can also be deadly. RMSF causes signs similar to Lyme disease, and may also cause limb or facial swelling, coughing, abdominal pain, nosebleeds, and focal hemorrhages in the eyes or gums. With signs like these, it’s easy to see why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call RMSF one of the deadliest tick-borne diseases in the Americas. 
  • Flea allergy dermatitis — While flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is not a life-threatening condition, it can make your pet miserable. Some pets are so sensitive to flea saliva that they can erupt in an allergy flare from only one flea bite. Pets suffering from FAD show hallmark allergy signs, such as:

    • Itching
    • Hair loss
    • Red, inflamed skin
    • Pustules
    • Hot spots
    • Change in skin color
    • Licking or chewing

Hair loss around the hind end is a textbook FAD sign. Fleas enjoy hanging out along the lower back, on the tail base, in the groin, and along the belly, causing a pet to chew and scratch until her hind end is hairless and inflamed. 

  • Tapeworms — Tapeworms are intestinal parasites made up of segments resembling grains of rice that are filled with egg packets. The flea larvae eat the egg packets, and then hatch and grow inside the flea. When a pet ingests an infected flea through grooming, the tapeworm is released into the intestines and attaches to the lining. While tapeworms are rarely serious, they can be irritating and cause your pet to lick, chew, or scoot her hind end along the floor. Severe infections can make your pet lose weight or vomit up worms. 

These are a few of the diseases your pet can get from fleas and ticks if she is left unprotected. Prevention is the best medicine—and the most economical—for your beloved companion. You are welcome to stop in our clinic and discuss flea- and tick-prevention options to ensure your pet’s safety year-round.