“The Good Word” by Dr. Carol Good – Rockford Animal Hospital

*Fleas, Ticks and Mosquitoes, Oh my!*

     Spring time is here! After the long, dark, cold winter, finally the sun is staying longer and the snow melts. “House for Sale” signs pop up in yards overnight like dandelions and insects become active both indoors and out.

Some insects are just annoying, like Japanese Lady bugs and Box Elder Bugs. They fly around my house and every day I have to sweep up their little bodies on my kitchen floor. Other bugs are more serious, like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. These insects not only have painful bites, but they are also capable of passing serious diseases to both humans and dogs.

The types of fleas that infect our dogs primarily come from possums, raccoons and other pets. The first two critters are nocturnal and run around our yards at night, seeding the area with flea eggs. These hatch and then the adult fleas jump on our pets as they go out into the yard. From there, the fleas ride them into our homes and begin to feed and breed. In just a few days, our homes become a flea nursery. Fleas cause allergies, anemia, and tapeworm infections. They also spread diseases like Tularemia and Bartonellosis.

Ticks don’t have any particular preference where they feed. They will choose many different hosts throughout their life spam, ranging from tiny mice and deer, to birds, pets and humans. Although they are in greater numbers in the spring and fall here in Rockford, there is really not a month of the year when ticks are not active. They are hard to kill and even more difficult to repel.

There are many bacterial diseases spread by ticks including Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Anaplasmosis. All of these diseases infect humans as well as dogs.

The last member of this nasty trio is the mosquito. I have reported sightings already this month. Where ever there is a bit of standing water, the lowly mosquito will breed. In pets, it is responsible for the spread of Heartworm parasites and their corresponding disease. They also spread West Nile Virus to dogs and people.

It isn’t enough to just kill these insects. We need to stop them before they bite and spread disease. This is why it is so important to use a product that has repellant properties and prevents biting. After all, you and I don’t use mosquito spray to kill mosquitoes. We use it so we don’t get bitten. That’s because it hurts and makes our skin itch. It could even make us sick. The same principle applies to dogs.

Not many of the products sold to kill fleas and ticks on dogs will prevent biting. Currently, there is only one product that will kill and repel all five of the most common biting insects (fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, biting flies and lice). That product is Vectra 3D. It is a topical product that is applied to your dog’s skin in a line over their spine once every 30 days.

It dries in 6 hours because it is water based. That means you can put it on before bedtime and by morning not have to worry about touching a wet spot on your dog’s body. After 6 hours, it is water resistant, so your dog can swim in a lake or get a bath with no loss of potency. If your dog swims in a chemically-treated pool, the Vectra 3D will wear off faster and you will need to apply it every 15 days. Pool water does this to all the topical products, so remember this.

Vectra 3D is available from your veterinarian or a veterinary pharmacy. So, if your dog is going outside now to enjoy the great spring weather, don’t forget to make sure they are protected against biting insects. They will be happier and more comfortable, just like you.

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