Don't Let The Bugs Bite

With summern comes pesky parasites that "bug" family pets. Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes will be especially bad this year because of a mild winter in some parts of the country, and a moisture-laden ground in other parts.

These bugs carry disease and cause constant scratching. For the cure, The Early Show got the following advice from veterinarian Dr. Jim Humphries.

Just a few years ago, flea and tick control was a laborious and expensive process involving sprays, bombs or foggers, collars, powders and lots of chemicals. It had to be done almost weekly in some areas of the country. Now Dr, Humphries says it is possible to get these parasites under "serious" control, and in some cases completely get rid of them!

Modern chemistry has given us several new compounds to effectively kill fleas, most of the time before they even have time to bite. Advantage, Frontline and Advantix, found at your veterinarian's office, not at pet stores, work on dogs and cats 8-10 weeks of age or older.

A few drops placed on the back of a pet's neck spreads in the oil layers of the skin and stays there. When the flea hops on, it is coated with the compound and dies within hours.

In the case of ticks, the new treatments work the same way, but you have to make sure you have a product that is labeled to work on ticks. Also. the tick needs to die and fall off within about 24 hours to prevent the transmission of Lyme Disease.

Humans can get Lyme Disease from ticks, too. There were 16,000 human cases of Lyme last year, and it is estimated that there are about 10 cases that go unreported for each case actually diagnosed!!

Lyme disease in dogs is even more under diagnosed because early symptoms are subtle. Now, there is a good test available as well as a vaccine for Lyme Disease.

Not every dog needs this, but it is highly recommended in the states where the Lyme Disease tick is found.

Mosquitoes can transmit the deadly heartworm disease and in horses and humans, the West Nile Virus. There are rare cases of West Nile in dogs. Dogs should definitely get the new "vaccine" for heartworm disease. And when walking with your dog, you should use some mosquito repellant for you and your dog. Repellants containing Deet are fine.

Your veterinarian knows what is needed in your case and in your area of the country. With these advances, it is more important than ever for you to visit the animal hospital, Dr. Humphries says.