As June comes to a blissful end, the summer season begins and the world around us eagerly blossoms with flourishing life, exuberant colors, and pesky parasites. Ear mites, ticks, and fleas are only a sliver of summertime parasites that flourish in the warm and humid weather. While they can survive year-round, the summer weather is their favorite. They linger anywhere in tall grass, wet dirt, bushes, and heavily vegetated areas. It’s very important as pet owners to understand the symptoms of these parasites living in our pets’ fur/skin, as well as proactively working to prevent these creatures from sneaking into your cat’s life or worse yet, into your home.
Fleas are one of the most well-known parasites that harass cats year-round. However, summertime weather creates the perfect environment for fleas to thrive. At a temperature of 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit, fleas will begin looking for a host to provide adequate shelter and nutrition in the form of blood from the host through bites. Once your cat becomes an unwilling host to fleas, you may see dry skin, hair loss, and flea dirt in most parts of your cats body as well as irritation and constant itching. Flea prevention methods can be as simple as basic yard maintenance as in mowing the lawn frequently to keep grass trimmed in order to dry out the soil underneath. Monthly flea medications act as a protective barrier as long as they are administered consistently. When it comes to your pet’s beds and blankets, washing them and drying in high heat will destroy leftover fleas and flea eggs.
Ticks can be just as stubborn a vermin as fleas. Both parasites flourish in warm weather conditions with the right amount of humidity. However, you’ll find ticks residing openly on bushes, tall vegetation, and generally in the woods. These parasites love heavily vegetated areas as much as we do, thus we bear as much of the risk as our pets do. Symptoms of tick bites include swelling, a rash, and painful irritation of affected areas. While ticks may be hard to avoid, disposing of them can be just as difficult. Submerging ticks in alcohol or directly flushing them down the toilet destroys them. However, another option is preserving the tick for further examination by a doctor or veterinarian since there is a real risk of contracting Lyme disease from a tick bite and physicians would be most qualified to determine if the tick was a carrier.
Ear mites are a whole other type of parasite that haunt both our pets and us in the summertime; at least you can easily see fleas and ticks! These parasites are microscopic, which makes them easy to overlook and disregard. These pesky parasites also thrive on humid and warm temperatures, although as their name implies, they reside inside the ear of the host. All sorts of pets can contract ear mites including cats, dogs, rabbits, and sometimes humans too! Symptoms include bleeding from excessive itching, dirty ears with dark brown residue, and wax build-up. These mites thrive on the host’s ear wax, thus most medications work to expunge as much ear wax as possible. These microscopic parasites can wreak havoc to the host’s ear, but proper ear cleanings ahead of time can reduce the chances of inviting and harboring ear mites altogether.
These three parasites barely encompass the full spectrum of parasites that flourish in the summertime. From lice to internal parasites such as tapeworms, there are plenty more parasites out there to beware of when coming in and out of your home from the summer outdoors. In an upcoming blog post, we’ll further discuss more pesky summertime parasites to look out for in hopes of informing pet owners so their pets may remain forever happy and healthy!
Contributors: Jose Parra, Rylee Garrett, & Alexis Meehan