Spring has arrived! With longer days and warmer weather also comes a number of challenges for responsible pet owners. Here are a few Spring hazards to be aware of, and what you can do to protect your precious pet.
There are many different parasites that can affect our animals. All of them carry diseases and can make our animals sick, but there are some which are considered to be more serious than others. Some of the most common pet parasites include:
Fleas. Fleas are microscopic parasites that burrow down into your pet’s fur and feast on their blood. They breed at an astronomical rate, meaning a couple of fleas quickly become an entire infestation. Flea bites cause intense itching and irritation, and many animals are allergic to flea saliva, which only exacerbates their condition. Fleas can also carry diseases, like tapeworms, and will also bite human family members. Getting rid of a flea infestation is particularly challenging, so it’s best to prevent them altogether.
Ticks. Ticks are another parasite that live outside of your pet’s body. They start off very small, about the size of a poppy seed, but swell with blood as they spend several days drinking from your pet. They also carry many diseases, including Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis. Many of the diseases that they carry can have serious consequences for your pet. Again, prevention is better than cure.
Intestinal worms. There are many different types of intestinal worms including tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. They all live inside your pet’s digestive system and are transmitted through contact with the stool of an infected animal. Again, they can make your pet quite unwell and be very debilitating, so regular deworming is recommended.
Heartworms. Heartworms are different to other worms in that they are spread by mosquitos carrying infected blood. When they bite your pet, they deposit immature heartworms into their bloodstream. They spend the next 6 months maturing and travelling to the blood vessels of the heart and lungs where adult heartworms live and reproduce. An adult heartworm can grow up to 12 inches long and a severely infected pet could have as many as 100 heartworms. Without treatment, heartworms are nearly always fatal. This is because as their numbers swell, they block the blood vessels, preventing proper blood flow. Preventatives are crucial to keep your pet safe, and these are widely available.
It isn’t just parasites that you need to worry about in the Spring and Summer months. Poisoning is a very real risk all year round, and particularly when your pet is spending long periods of time outside. There are many substances that are toxic to animals, who don’t have the common senses or skills needed to learn to stay clear of them. These include slug bait, weedkiller, lawn feed, cleaning products and more. Some plants and flowers, including the lily, are also highly toxic to many pets.
Common signs of pet poisoning include:
Loss of appetite
Coughing up or vomiting blood
If you are concerned that your pet may have consumed something that they shouldn’t have, don’t hesitate in contacting your veterinarian in El Paso as soon as you can. Don’t be tempted to induce vomiting, and instead follow the instructions that you are given by your veterinarian.
You may be surprised to learn that there are 20 species of venomous snake found in North America. Snake bites are a common cause of veterinary visits. If you find a snake near your home, it’s best to keep your pet well away from them, and call someone to remove it if you can. If you are concerned that your pet may have been bitten, take them to your veterinarian immediately.
If you would like more information on Spring pet hazards, or would like to speak to an experienced veterinary team, please call us at (915) 545-1148 to reach El Paso Animal Emergency.