Parasites such as ticks and fleas can make our animal companions miserable, not just because they make them itchy, but also can lead to the spread of diseases that could be fatal.

“It can be so bad that they cause lots of skin damage from their nails,” Brian Herrin, a veterinarian at Kansas State University told EcoWatch. “They get secondary infections. They’ll lose their hair. And overall, it’s just a complete nuisance to the animals and the owners.”

Fleas like warm, humid weather, so our companion animals usually catch them between spring and fall, but due to climate changes, it can happen in winter, too. Fleas stay active longer, and it appears that some species of ticks are expanding their ranges.

“Where I’m at in Kansas, our predominant tick is the Lone Star Tick,” he said. “And in our area, it’s a spring-summer type of tick. And so, as the temperature changes, as it becomes warmer, as we have shorter periods of cold, then its range is actually moving northward.”

Which is why it is important to prevent and fleas from spreading in your house to protect you companion animals.

Consult your trusted veterinarian on flea prevention products.

“If you’re starting to see some irritation on the pet’s skin,” Euphrates Anderson, DVM, an Atlanta veterinarian, told webmd.com. “That’s when you probably need to schedule a visit with your veterinarian so they can prescribe an antibiotic if there seems to be an infection.”

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