Summertime Threats From Pet Parasites

Posted on: 8 June 2017


As the weather gets warmer, both pets and their owners are ready to enjoy the beauty of nature. However, behind the beauty lurks danger in very small packages. Parasitic insects can cause serious health problems for both pets and their owners, so extra vigilance is required to keep everyone safe.

Ticks and Lyme Disease

While Lyme Disease is endemic in certain areas of the country, it can be contracted anywhere where black-legged ticks are present. These ticks are often found on white-tailed deer, so they are often called "deer ticks" where deer are prevalent. These ticks are very small and dark, and almost imperceptible upon casual inspection. 

While ticks cannot jump or fly, they can attach themselves to pets or their owners when the victim walks through tall vegetation or thick brush. A bite from a tick infected with Lyme Disease may not be readily apparent on your pet, but it will appear in a bulls-eye pattern on a pet owner, with a red dot surrounded by both a white and red ring.

The most common symptoms of infection in a dog is lethargy, changes in eating habits, and possible lameness in their leg. However, infection with Lyme Disease often comes with no initial symptoms but can manifest itself later in more serious health issues such as kidney disease. While cats are not prone to Lyme Disease, both dogs and cats are susceptible to some types of blood-born pathogens from ticks, so treatment for tick prevention is essential to keep your pet safe.

Fleas and Mange Mites

Both of these pests can cause intense discomfort and possible infections in your pets. Pets with allergies to flea bites are particularly susceptible to negative reactions, which can manifest themselves as large patches of scaly skin and open wounds from scratching around the lower back and tail regions.

While flea infestations are more easily recognized because of their jumping movements and their propensity for biting pet owners as well as their pets, mange mites are almost microscopic is size, and can only be recognized by the symptoms of their infestation. Mange mites produce much of the same misery as allergies to flea bites, including intense itching around the tail and ears, and rough scaly skin along the lower back near the tail.

Over-the-counter flea control products are often inadequate for pets that are particularly vulnerable to flea bite allergies, so a visit to a veterinarian like Lamb's Gap Animal Hospital is essential for both flea protection and mange mite infestation.


Heartworm larva are spread by mosquitoes, so the humid and rainy weather of summer is the primary time for heartworm infections. These worms grow inside the heart and blood vessels and can be deadly to both dogs and cats. 

While heartworm medication and prevention is essential in protecting your pets from these potentially deadly parasites, you should have your pet tested each year for heartworm antigens, which indicate the presence of heartworms. No preventative medication is completely effective in stopping a heartworm infestation, so annual testing at your local veterinarian is much more preferable than a trip to an animal hospital for a possibly fatal infestation.