It’s official: the warm weather has arrived, which means that the flea and tick season is starting to heat up as well. These pesky little critters can not only make your pet’s life miserable as she bites and scratches in vain to get some relief, the pain can even cause her to be more likely to lash out at a stranger or even a friend who attempts to stroke her when she’s feeling attacked-and the resulting dog bite liabilities can have you as the pet owner feeling attacked.
The difference between them
Fleas are wingless insects with six legs. They can jump incredibly far. They live on your pet for their lifetime (adult fleas can live for about 100 days), laying from 20-40 eggs per day (which are deposited randomly throughout your home as your pet roams), until they die. Only adult fleas feed on the host which, in this case, is your miserable pooch. While they are on board, they can transmit diseases such as bartonellosis and tapeworms, making your pet ill.
In contrast, ticks are of the arachnid family, closely related to spiders, and in most stages of development have eight legs. Unlike fleas, they don’t rely on warm weather to thrive; these parasites are hardier and harder to kill, and can survive in even near-freezing conditions. They can live a few weeks up to three years, laying thousands of eggs all at one time, after which they die. In the meantime, though, they wreak havoc on your pet, and can cause illnesses such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which can be fatal.
Just as humans who are normally docile can become snappish and aggressive when they are suffering from an illness, pets’ personalities can undergo a similar transformation. Carrie found this out when her beagle, normally playful and loving, came home after a hike. The pooch scratched itself raw, then chewed mercilessly on its hindquarters until it drew blood, and became withdrawn and unresponsive to Carrie’s ministrations-even attempting to bite her (albeit halfheartedly) when she tried to apply some ointment on the affected area. A trip to the vet revealed ticks had attached themselves near the tail, despite the topical pesticide Carrie had applied to her pet.
The vet removed the ticks carefully, treated Carrie’s beagle with a more effective pesticide and sent them on their way; the pair lived to hike another day. The point is, any pet’s gentle disposition can be transformed by pain and a dog bite can be sustained even by an owner, let alone someone who is unfamiliar to the animal. Talk to a professional insurance agent about obtaining coverage for the dog bite liabilities that are part and parcel of owning a pooch, and consult your vet to determine the best way to protect your pet from fleas and ticks.