PET PROTECTION: Fleas, ticks and heat attack pets in extreme Ind. weather

COLUMBIA CITY ­— It is evident that Whitley County is experiencing the “dog days of summer,” and it’s not just humans suffering in the oppressive summer conditions.Pets are panting after shaded or air conditioned environments and lapping up water by the bowl fulls, but another common nuisance is experiencing a surge due to the obscure weather in Indiana. A mild winter for Hoosiers, now means a larger flea and tick population for their pets.“Since we have had a mild winter, you may see external parasites appearing on your pet and in the environment more this year,” said Dr. Carolynn MacAllister, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension veterinarian.“Since warm seasons are now lasting longer, fleas are tending not to disappear in the wintertime. Therefore, veterinarians are recommending flea and tick control year around in most regions of the country to help control these pesky external parasites.”According to the cooperative education’s research, ticks can survive in cold weather by becoming dormant and hiding in leaf litter and other protected places. When temperatures are above freezing, both adult and nymph ticks climb onto the tips of vegetation and wait for an animal to brush up next to it. Since Indiana experienced a mild winter and abnormal warming trends in the spring, adult and nymph ticks moved to trees, shrubs and brush in a more pronounced way therefore seeming to be more prevalent than in years past.“Pets are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases regardless of the time of year. There are products that help control ticks, but these products don’t keep the ticks from getting on the dog or from the dog bringing ticks into the environment they live in,” said MacAllister.Dogs generally get ticks when walking through woods or high grass. Ticks crawl up on low shrubs or tall grass, generally 18 to 24 inches off the ground. When a dog walks by and brushes up against the vegetation, the ticks dislodge and attach to the dog. Ticks don’t climb up into trees. That’s an old myth. But they can live well over a year without feeding.Fleas are usually deposited in yards by stray animals or wildlife such as raccoons and opossums.Fleas and ticks can lead to several health problems for pets, such as skin allergies and tapeworms. Veterinarians suggest that pet owners check animals daily for ticks. Extreme weather conditions are not only cause for concern in regards to parasites and pests, but high temperatures puts pets at risk.Pets need to be housed in a shady or air conditioned area with plenty of fresh water. Veterinarians urge the importance of fresh water. Stagnate water found in puddles and pools can expose animals to illnesses.Whitley County Humane Society Director, Lindsay Pease said, “We have had more calls concerning animals being left out in the heat. We urge callers to contact the local law enforcement to report any signs of animals without adequate shelter or water. We have seen an increase in stray animals since the heat has become overwhelming.”For more information on keeping your pet cool or regarding fleas and ticks, consult a veterinarian.