We all love our furry friends and do everything we can to ensure that their lives are fulfilling, active, happy and healthy. This includes keeping an eye on pesky parasites that can make a home for themselves in your beloved pet’s fur, skin and even their digestive systems. As vigilant as we are in the fair summer and spring months we have a misplaced faith in the winter to kill off any unwelcome nasties that can compromise our pets’ health.
Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Indeed, there are some parasites for which winter weather is not only survivable but provides the prime conditions for breeding and infestation. As a responsible pet owner you must be vigilant in fair or foul weather to prevent your fuzzy buddy from potentially damaging parasitic infections.
It might have aname that sounds like a pretty creeping vine in your garden, but giardia is a profoundly unpleasant parasite that can affect both dogs and their human counterparts. When the parasite breeds it leads to giardiasis which is a potentially serious condition that results in diarrhea and potential malnutrition and even inflammatory bowel disease. Dogs tend to ingest these parasites when they come into contact with the feces of other animals which contains giardia cysts. They are in fact most commonly transmitted in water which contains this feces. Keep a close eye on your dog when walking them through snowy areas as snow can hide potentially malignant feces from your view. If your dog exhibits frothy, greasy and particularly foul smelling diarrhea this is likely a sign of giardiasis and must be treated immediately.
Mites can affect all kinds of pets from the largest to the smallest, causing irritation, pain and the possibility of more serious infection in animals from horses to mice. Mites can survive for weeks without sustenance and once they’ve set up shop in your pet’s fur they can create a range of problems (especially if you let them in your bed). Use mite spray regularly to prevent this. Be sure to select a repellent spray that uses natural ingredients to reduce the risk of damage or irritation to your furry friend’s skin. Apply 1-2 times a day rubbing against the grain of your pet’s fur and applying to affected areas of skin where applicable.
Fleas may not be able to survive for long in extreme cold but they’re crafty creatures and will often enveigl their way into your home by latching onto a warm blooded host like a passing rat or even in your pet’s fur. Once an adult female flea has found a host she can lay several hundred eggs throughout her life cycle. Once one of these eggs has been shed they can develop pretty much anywhere and when they’re allowed to breed in your house, they’re insulated from the effects of winter. If your pet exhibits signs of a flea infection the best thing to do is enlist a professional exterminator to remove all traces of infestation from your home.
Unfortunately, the cold offers little protection from nasty parasites, but with a little vigilance you can ensure that your pet has a safe and happy winter.