Who hasn’t ever scratched at a mosquito bite and wondered, “I hate them; why do they exist?”
Or fleas, ticks, intestinal worms … all parasites for that matter. But as cooler weather approaches, some of us are likely to forget the aggravation caused by this year’s bumper crop of pests.
As pet lovers, it’s really important for us to understand what the risks are, not just to our pets, but also to us. And it’s especially important as the weather changes because, unfortunately, the no see-ums are still there during the colder months.
“Just because it gets cold outside doesn’t mean they aren’t still a problem,” says Dr. Naomi Lavelle, SNKC veterinarian. “We create a parasite friendly micro-climate inside our homes and they just move indoors.”
And, Lavelle adds, a few warm days outside here in Kansas City (40-ish degrees or above) and parasites will be active again. Fleas, in fact, get particularly bad this time of year.
So, why do they exist?
According to a 2015 report by the BBC, as nice as it would be to not worry about fleas, ticks, mosquitoes – or any host of other parasites – a world without them might not be a nicer one.
“Within hours, millions of poor people would be cured of serious chronic illness like malaria, schistosomiasis and scariasis,” the BBC reported Kevin Lafferty of the US Geological Survey of saying. “People would be able to work harder, enjoy their lives more. Their livestock and crops would be healthier too.”
Sounds good, but …
The honeymoon period wouldn’t last long, Lafferty told the BBC. In fact, parasites lower populations of plant-eating insects and other animals we consider pests. Without parasites, a lot of those species would increase and cause damage to food crops and more people would go hungry.
Some scientists even believe that, since animals have evolved with parasites, we (on two legs and four) are more robust and complex and an absence of parasites would cause a much more drastic rate of extinction than we currently have.
“Nature really doesn’t like a vacuum,” Lafferty said. He believes the food chain and ecosystem would be less stable than it is now. And certain species, including predators, would become more numerous. Some scientists even believe that removal of parasites would cause our entire ecosystem to collapse.
Putting Them in Their Place
So, okay, it sounds like we need parasites – begrudgingly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself and your pet from them. In fact, the best defense for your pet is year-round protection. And by protecting your pet year-round, you’re helping protecting yourself.
It’s important because the Kansas City area is now a growing heartworm disease hotspot (spread by mosquitoes) as well as tick-borne illnesses, including Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and ehrlichiosis. Then, of course, there are fleas, which are the most common parasite for pets. They cause skin issues called flea bite dermatitis and if ingested, can possibly lead to a tapeworm infection for your pet.
Gross, right? Absolutely. But also easy to prevent if you follow the right steps (we can help with both info and products). After all, what we all want is to spend time with our furry friends without having to worry about who is buzzing, hopping, or crawling around on them or us.
If you have questions or need flea, tick, heartworm protection, give us a call at 816-353-0940. Or stop by for a visit. We’re always glad to help.