Are You Taking the Right Steps to Protect Your Pet from Fleas & Ticks?

With the beautiful spring weather upon us, many pets are spending more time outdoors.  This is wonderful for pets, as well as their owners, but it also exposes your dog or cat to common pests like fleas and ticks.

In order to keep your furry friend healthy and happy, you must maintain a clean and safe environment and pay close attention to any abnormal signs.  It is also important to bring your pet for regular annual or semi-annual checkups.  Fleas and ticks might seem like a mere nuisance and not cause for concern, but they can pose serious health risks for your pets.

Medical Conditions Related to Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks can cause life-threatening illnesses such as:

  • Anemia
  • Tapeworm
  • Lyme Disease
  • Erlichiosis

It is important to understand each of these conditions, including how to identify symptoms, the causes, the risks and the appropriate interventions.


Anemia is a deficiency of red blood cells in dogs or cats.  It is often caused by fleas, ticks, and hookworms, to which your pet can become exposed as they spend more time outdoors in the spring and summer months.

If you notice that your pet is unusually lethargic, it may be a sign of Anemia.  Symptoms to look for include:

  • Pale Gums
  • Weakness or Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Blood in Urine


Tapeworms grow in your pet’s intestines, and, if left untreated, can obstruct digestion, leading to serious health problems.  Tapeworms compete for the nutrients your pet needs to survive. Fleas can transfer Tapeworm eggs into an animal’s digestive tract. Some types of tapeworms can be transmitted to humans; so proper treatment and prevention protects your family as well as your pet.

While it may sound unpleasant, it is important to keep an eye on your pet’s stools for signs of tapeworms. You should also be concerned if:

  • Your pet is trying to relieve irritation by scooting around on its rear
  • You notice dried pieces of tapeworm around the anus, which resemble rice grains
  • You find segments of tapeworm in your pet’s poop

Lyme Disease

The bacteria associated with Lyme disease, Borrelia Burgdorferi, can be fatal to your pet.  The main tick that carries Lyme disease is the deer tick (or black-legged tick), but other types of ticks can also be carriers.

Unfortunately, many animals show no symptoms of Lyme disease, so the best way to make sure your pet is healthy is by taking them to the vet on a regular basis.  Some signs of Lyme disease that may become apparent include:

  • Sore, stiff joints, particularly in front legs.
  • Shifting-leg lameness (limping that switches from one leg to another)
  • Fever, lack of appetite or depression

Lyme disease can be treatable but the earlier it is caught the better the prognosis for the pet.


Erlichia is another bacterial infection that can be carried by ticks, particularly the brown dog tick and the lone star tick.  As with Lyme disease, Erlichia is also a risk for humans.

Here’s what to watch for:

  • Your pet appears weak or lethargic
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing or swelling of the limbs

Prevention is the Best Medicine

It may sound cliché, but the best way to keep your pet safe from all of the diseases associated with fleas and ticks is to prevent them from being transmitted in the first place.

Have your pet checked by a vet regularly to identify signs early on.

Some strategies to keep your pet safe include:

  • Using proper preventative medications will have a great impact on your pet’s fight against flea and tick infestation.  We can prescribe the most appropriate medications for your pet
  • Providing a clean environment for your pet
  • Ensuring your backyard is clear of fleas and ticks
  • Taking your pet for regular veterinary checkups and visits

Enjoy the outdoors this summer, and remember to keep your pet safe!