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Pet neglect could be disastrous during winter

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Christopher Bowyer-Meeder
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
As the temperature begins to drop, pet owners still need to keep their guard up. Pests, like fleas and ticks, are active through the cold weather months, and can still be a nuisance for our four-legged friends.

"Ticks and fleas usually like warmer weather," said Capt. Jordan Baumgard, Officer in Charge at the Tyndall veterinary clinic, and doctor of veterinary medicine. "In Florida, it never gets cold enough to kill the ticks and fleas, so keeping your dogs and cats protected year-round is essential."

Baumgard explained that a common misconception is that indoor pets are safe from fleas and ticks. While indoor animals are less likely to have fleas or ticks, the insects can still make their way inside on shoes or clothes.

"It just takes a single flea to enter a home and lay eggs to get a serious infestation," said Baumgard. "It is much easier to prevent fleas and ticks from living in your home than it is to get rid of them once they have infested your carpet and furniture."

Fleas and ticks aren't the only menacing organisms trying to make a meal of pets. There are also parasites like, round worms, that are just as happy to make a meal out of a human as they are to feast on a furry friend.

"A leading cause of blindness in children is round worms, a common parasite in our pets," Baumgard cautioned. "Prescription products from your vet can rid your pet of these worms every month, keeping your kids and your environment safe. Another common parasite in this area is hookworm, which can also infect you and your children, causing itchiness and a rash where the thin, thread-like worm enters the skin. Tapeworms are also common, and our pets are infected with tapeworms when they ingest a flea egg, which happens often if flea prevention medication is not used. Tapeworms can also infect people and cause malnutrition and illness."

While parasitic plights leave plenty to ponder, do not fall prey to the concept that pets are immune to the cold. Even though pets have a layer of fur to help protect them from the harsh blast of winter, they are still susceptible to cold weather issues including hypothermia and dehydration.

"Ensure that water is available, and that it has not turned into ice, as this will cause dehydration," warned Baumgard. "Just like humans, our pets can easily suffer from hypothermia. This is likely if your pet swims and then is left outside to dry in the cold weather. If your pet likes to swim, test the water first. If you would not go in it, then please stop your pet from going in it. Always dry your pet thoroughly after swimming and provide a warm place to rest."

For more information about keeping your pet safe during the winter months, contact the Tyndall Veterinary Clinic at (850) 283-2434.