How to Protect Pets from Bot Flies, Fleas, and Ticks in Colorado
August 4th, 2014 by Cherished Companions Animal Clinic
We’re in the heart of summer in Castle Rock, Colorado, and that means it’s prime bug season.
We’ve written this article to help you learn how to protect pets from bot flies, fleas and ticks!
Bot flies and cattle grubs
Many of the neighborhoods in and around Castle Rock are built on former horse and cattle ranches.
With our close proximity to ranches, our veterinarians see cases of cattle grubs − particularly in dogs – during the latter half of the summer.
What are bot flies and cattle grubs?
Bot flies are insects that lay eggs on large mammals. Typically, they choose horses or cattle, but occasionally, a bot fly will use a dog or cat as the host animal for its eggs.
When an egg hatches, the larva (aka, the “cattle grub”) is determined to burrow under your pet’s skin.
While a bit unsightly, here is a photo of a bot fly larva (cattle grub):
What are symptoms of cattle grubs in pets?
You may notice your pet excessively licking at one spot. You also may see a small, circular hole that’s swollen on your pet’s skin (a bump).
Can cats get cattle grubs too?
Dogs are much more likely to get cattle grubs, but yes, cats can get them too (typically, outdoor cats).
How to treat cattle grubs:
Unlike tick removal, you don’t want to try to remove the grub yourself. Come into our Castle Rock veterinary clinic, and our veterinarians will safely remove the grub from your pet.
How to protect pets from bot flies:
The best prevention is to keep pets inside.
This may work well for some cats, but we know this just isn’t realistic for dogs in Castle Rock!
As a deterrent, you can apply a topical mosquito spray to your dog as long as it’s approved for use on animals.
The most important thing is to be on the lookout for cattle grub symptoms in your dog or cat.
Ticks are more common during the warm months in Castle Rock, particularly in areas with fox, coyote and prairie dog populations.
They’re also very prevalent in humid climates.
(Keep this in mind if you’re getting ready to travel to the South or Midwest with your pet!)
What are ticks?
Ticks are small arachnids that feed on blood.
Ticks pick up and carry diseases − such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever − when they feed on infected hosts.
Can cats get ticks too?
Dogs are much more likely to get ticks, but yes, it’s possible.
What are tick symptoms in pets?
You may notice the tick on your dog or cat. Or, you may notice your pet licking and scratching a specific area.
How to treat a tick:
If you see a tick on your dog or cat, carefully remove it with tweezers.
Try not to detach the tick’s head from its body during removal, so the bite area will heal properly.
If you’re nervous about removing the tick, keep in mind that the most important thing is to get the tick out quickly.
It’s a wives’ tale that detaching a tick head will kill your pet.
It may cause a small infection, but it’s better to get the tick out.
How to protect pets from ticks:
You can protect against ticks with a special tick & flea collar or a monthly liquid medication you inject between your pet’s shoulder blades.
How to reduce ticks in your yard:
There are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of ticks around your home.
Here is an article with useful tips on how to control ticks in your yard.
Like ticks, fleas emerge during the warm months in Castle Rock, but they aren’t as much of an issue in Colorado as they are in humid climates.
Our veterinary clinic usually sees dogs and cats with fleas after the pets have traveled to other parts of the country.
We also see them in pets that have access to the homes of wildlife (such as prairie dog burrows).
What are fleas?
Fleas are jumping insects that feed off the blood of their hosts.
What are signs of fleas in pets?
Your pet’s symptoms may include chewing, licking or scratching excessively.
You also may want to look for black dirt (flea droppings) on your pet’s skin that turns red when wet – usually along your pet’s back, rear and tail.
How to treat fleas in pets:
It’s much easier to prevent fleas than it is to treat them.
With that said, treatment depends on how deep the infestation is in your home.
If your pet has a milder case of fleas, treatment may include bathing your pet with a special shampoo and cleaning all of your pet’s bedding.
We also will prescribe a flea medication to kill the adult fleas on your dog or cat.
If the fleas have spread throughout your home, you may need to take more significant measures to get rid them in your house.
How to protect pets from fleas:
If you’re traveling with your pet (particularly to a warm, humid climate), we suggest putting your pet on preventive measures before you travel.
As with ticks, preventive measures include a flea & tick collar or a monthly liquid medication you place on your pet’s skin.
Also, some heartworm medications will kill flea eggs, if they’re given properly.
More Resources for You
- Parastar: Flea and tick prevention products for cats and for dogs
- Vectra: Flea and tick prevention products for dogs
Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.
This article is intended to provide general guidance on how to protect pets from bot flies, ticks and fleas. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian. (If you live in or around Castle Rock, CO, we welcome your call: 303-688-3757.)
© 2014, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic, All Rights Reserved