The Warm, Wet Spring is Causing Bug Problems For Dogs

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COLUMBIA- Spring arrived early this year, causing some problems for your furry friends.  The early, warm spring causes more breeding time and increases the lifespan of fleas and ticks. 

The lack of extremely cold weather meant there weren't any deep freezes to kill off bugs.  These bugs live in grass and a dog or human can pick up fleas or ticks by just walking outside.  One Columbia veterinarian, Maren Bell Jones, said it's long grass is the area where most mosquitos live.  "The grass gets really tall really quickly in even your backyard or frontyard, so those kinds of pests: felas, ticks, all sorts of bugs can really take off this time of the year," said Bell.

At dog parks and other areas where there are a lot of dogs, animals can also catch fleas from each other.  Not only can dogs spread fleas and ticks to cats and other household pets, but they can also spread to humans.  If a dog becomes invested with fleas, these bugs can take over your home.  If one flea fully matures it can lay up to 5,000 eggs.

One dog owner said when one of her dogs had flea problems, these problems spread to not only her other pets, but also her home furnishings. "It did spread to another one of our dogs, so we had to give him a bath and it did spread to all of the beds and everything like that. We just had to wash everything in hot water to kill everything," said Katie Koch.

Pet owners can prevent these bugs by giving them medicines to prevent fleas and ticks.  Bell says most most people do use flea and tick medications on their pets, but usually only put those on pets during the spring and summer.  Since spring came so early this year, a lot of owners did not medicate pets before the warmth started. Checking pets for fleas and ticks is important in making sure they do not spread any bugs to your other pets or yourself.

Not only are fleas and ticks a major problem for dogs and other household pets, but mosquitos are also problematic because they carry heartworm.  Heartworm can be fatal to dogs if it goes untreated. 

Mosquitos can breed in very shallow water, and with the early warmth, these bugs are breeding fast.  If you have an empty pond or other water holding devices in your yard, it's always a good idea to empty these to prevent mosquito breeding.

If your dog begins to show signs of heartworm, fleas, or ticks, taking them into a vet will help keep them healthy.