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Health

Fleas and Ticks: How one Hot Scientist and her Pocket Protector Help your Pets
March 23, 2015 (published)


Photo courtesy of CDC
I have a great deal of respect for most forms of life on this planet - wallabies, fruit bats, chupacabras, even the lowly sea slug. I make a living treating dogs and cats, so I owe the very roof over my family’s head to the existence of animals. But if I had to select two groups of animals and set them apart for a special form of loathing, kick them off the Ark, so to speak, I would choose fleas and ticks. I am sure in the grand scheme of things they must serve some higher purpose, but I am at a loss to see what it is. All they do is suck blood, reproduce and spread itchy misery and disease. If it were up to me (no offense, Mother Nature or Higher Power) they could be disposed of altogether and I would be perfectly content. I’m sure your pets would agree with me on this one.

Grossness and plague-carrying aside, you can’t question their success and hardiness. Fleas are hard to kill with conventional means. I have tried to squoosh countless numbers of them with my fingernail, exerting, no doubt, oodles of pounds-per-square-flea to no avail, and when I let up they just sit there staring at me, as if to say “nice try, bub” before hopping off to spread disease and suck more blood. Anemia can be a huge problem. I have had to administer blood transfusions to lots and lots of poor little cats and dogs who have almost literally been sucked dry of blood, not to mention the many diseases that can be passed on by the bite of an infected flea. Diseases like, oh, I don’t know, THE PLAGUE! Yes, that plague, the one that killed about half of Europe 600 years ago. That was from fleas.

I had a little stray dog as a patient who was severely anemic due to the thousands of fleas covering him all over. Luckily, due to a good bath, some flea combing and a flea treatment he has made a full recovery and now has a good home.

Thank goodness some smart, pocket-protectored, slide-rule wielding scientist-type (I like to think she’s someone who would be just stunning if she would only let down her bun and take off those darn glasses!) developed life-changing (for the flea) compounds that effectively and safely kill adults and prevent flea eggs from hatching.

Don’t even get me started on ticks. Okay, I started, I better finish. Let’s start with the name. Tick – seriously. Just say it: tick. It sounds like you are trying to cough something up, and rhymes with yuck (sorta). Fleas are bad enough, but they are small and easily missed. Ticks are like big, ugly, obese Jabba-the-Hut-looking things. They suck blood, transmit deadly diseases and are really, really ugly. That’s like the gross-out trifecta. It’s somehow far worse, at least for me, to think of a big, engorged tick passing along nasty diseases while feasting on your pet’s blood than a tiny flea. Ticks can carry diseases with well-nigh unpronounceable names like Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis, as well as better-known ones like Lyme disease  and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Luckily, that same hot scientist and her slide-rule also developed some pretty awesome compounds that work against ticks, so you’ll have to worry less about one of them latching on to your dog or cat in the future and causing badness. No more messy powders, stinky collars or kooky home remedies that have more place in a loaf of bread than in your dog. (Saccharomyces – I’m talkin’ to you!)

With a little prevention in the form of flea products obtained from your family veterinarian or the pet store (there are dozens available now), you can rest assured knowing that your pet is safe from the gross horrors and utterly unaesthetic unappealingness of disease-carrying fleas and ticks. All thanks to that hot scientist and her pocket protector. They sure could have used her during the Middle Ages. See? Science is so cool!

2 Comments

Haley 
April 19, 2015

I personally appreciate the flea.  Those nasty creatures bring me lots of revenue!


Holly
March 25, 2015

Science is completely cool, and I am so totally grossed out by ticks I can't even *shudder* Now what we need is to find some sort of attractant for the buggers and place them in the woods to reduce to population of ticks so I can take my dogs out w/o thinking about the nasty things for the entire romp.


 


 
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