page contents

Cats and Dogs, Critter Chatter, Healthcare

CRITTER CHATTER: Spring Parasite Prevention

The Paw Print

Essential Pet Blog


golden long coated spaniel dog lying under a tree, scratching. spring parasite prevention

“It’s spring again. I can hear the birds sing again”

Lou Rawls, It’s Spring Again

Spring is the best. Even though old man winter recently dumped snow and ice on nearly every corner of the country, you soon will be waking up to singing birds and fragrances of jasmine and freshly cut grass. Unfortunately, with warm weather, creepy crawlies and pesky flying irritants can gang up to cause troubles. If you know what summer parasites to look out for, you and your pets needn’t hide in the house and miss out on seasonal fun.


Fleas are the top summer annoyance and especially problematic in the areas of high humidity. Many animals are particularly sensitive to the bite of even a single flea, a bite that can cause skin irritation, hair loss, excessive scratching, and general discomfort. Fleas can transmit a surprising number of diseases to animals and humans, including Murine typhus, Mycoplasma, Cat Scratch Fever, and tapeworms. There are lotions, sprays and shampoos to get rid of fleas, but the best way to prevent a flea infestation is to never let it start. In areas of moderate temperatures, flea prevention is a year-round job. Preventive measures include chewable pills, topical “spot-ons” and flea collars. Check with your veterinarian which brand is most effective in your area and NEVER USE A DOG PRODUCT ON A CAT. Thorough cleaning of carpets and pet beds help kill fleas and larvae.


Ticks also enjoy warm summer months and relish hiding in tall grass and wooded areas from where they can latch on to an unsuspecting animal (or human). Ticks are especially dangerous because they can transmit diseases such as Rocky Mount spotted fever or Lyme disease. As with fleas, there are many options to prevent ticks from becoming a problem in the first place, and many of the same preventatives against fleas work for ticks. Lyme vaccines are available, but their use is somewhat controversial.  It’s a good idea to carefully check your animal (and yourself) for embedded ticks after a walk in the woods or through tall grass.


Mosquitoes are more than just annoying because they can transmit the West Nile virus and heartworms. Topical lotions, shampoos and flea and tick collars help repel mosquitos and prevent the diseases spread by them. Make sure they are pet safe. Dogs and cats should be kept inside during the busiest mosquito feeding hours, especially at dusk. Clean up areas where mosquitos breed, such as standing water. Veterinary prescribed monthly heartworm medication prevents heartworm disease (and protects against roundworms and hookworms.)


Worms and other intestinal parasites are more readily transmissible in warm months because of increased pet-to-pet contact and outdoor activities. Except for finding tapeworm packets around pets’ anus, most worms remain hidden in the intestinal tract and are only identified by a microscopic stool examination. Don’t treat your animal for a worm infestation unless you really know if your pet is infected and can identify the specific type of worm. Your veterinarian is the best source of information in treating intestinal parasites.


Leptospirosis is a disease transferred by drinking water from a lake or puddle containing infected urine from wild animals or another dog or cat infected with the bacteria. Most dogs are vaccinated against this parasite as puppies and with annual boosters, but you need be diligent where your dog swims and drinks water.

Spring is a great time to be outside with your dog or cat. Just stay alert to warm weather pests so both you and your dog or cat can hear the birds sing again and have parasite-free fun.


a vet and his dogABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Brown holds a Doctorate Degree in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of California at Davis, a Master of Science Degree in Animal Science and Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Physiology from the University of California.  Following discharge from the Air Force as a Captain, he owned and operated the largest veterinary hospital on Cape Cod for almost twenty years. Brown is the past President of the Yavapai Humane Society Board of Directors, Branding Committee Chairman for National Animal Supplement Council and member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  He writes and lectures frequently on the benefits of natural and organic foods and supplements for animals and lives with his wife and a Golden doodle named Charlotte.

Please share this post