Melissa Brookshire, DVM, runs North River Enterprises and provides consulting services on pet food and animal health companies while balancing her life as a mom of two active boys. A graduate of the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, Melissa owned and operated a multi-species veterinary hospital with her husband before starting her consulting business.
Just like some people are more vulnerable to illness or irritation from pests, so are our pets. Young puppies or kittens, pets with chronic illnesses and older pets are especially vulnerable.
Young puppies and kittens are cute and adorable, but just like babies, their immune systems are not fully developed. They are particularly fragile and should not be treated with the same veterinary pesticides that are made for adult or senior pets. Products are specifically formulated for pets of different ages and weights.
Infestations of fleas are common in young animals. Young pets can lose enough blood from the bites of fleas to cause anemia. While these same young pets can quickly recover from the anemia once the pests are removed, they may require transfusions or other intensive veterinary care if the problem is not recognized early enough.
It is very important to follow your veterinarian’s advice for products to use to control these pests on your young pet. Many products are not made for animals under 10 or 12 weeks of age. Adverse reactions are a likely occurrence when label directions are not followed. Always follow the directions for treating your pet.
Now that our pets are living longer and getting better medical care than ever before, they are more likely to be diagnosed and treated for chronic medical conditions. While these pets can enjoy a great quality of life with the medical treatments available today, they are more vulnerable to illnesses transmitted by parasites like ticks. Ticks carry diseases that can cause kidney damage. If a pet that is already suffering from a kidney problem contracts a tick-borne disease, they are less likely to survive the illness than a pet with healthy kidneys.
Senior pets are less active and tend to sleep more than younger pets. I love watching my old beagle bask in the sunshine, in a pile of fallen leaves. However, she is at risk from all those pesky pests that lurk in the yard.
In my veterinary hospital, I occasionally saw older farm dogs that had been infested with ticks. These dogs were so weakened that they could not even walk. Of course, caring for a dog that is sick or weak from an infestation of parasites is much more costly than preventing the infestation in the first place.
Even if your yard has been treated to eliminate pests, it is important to use appropriate parasite control medications on your pets. Talk to your veterinarian for a recommendation of the best options for your special friend.