Digging Deeper: Mosquitoes and Fleas flourish in wet weather - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: Mosquitoes and Fleas flourish in wet weather

Drenching rains expected this weekend could make south Georgia's mosquito and flea population explode.

Extremely dry conditions have kept mosquitoes at bay until now.  Mosquitoes can be irritating when they bite, and pass diseases not only among humans, but also dogs.

While they can pass West Nile to humans they can pass heart worms among dogs.  It can be fatal.

Flea bites can be irritating, but are relatively harmless. Just like we can be a blood meal for mosquitoes, so can your dog or cat and in the case of heart worms, the only way they can be passed from dog to dog is through mosquitoes but as we found out there are ways to protect your pet

All this rain may only make what's been an already bad year for fleas even worse. Just ask the groomers at Magnolia Pet Resort & Spa and local Veterinarians.

"We are seeing a lot of fleas, even the dry conditions have caused them to become more active and with these more rainy conditions they become even more active," said Jody Senkbeil, Magnolia Pet Resorts & Spa Manager.

"There are five stages of the flea, the adult flea that we see is only 5 percent of your flea population, so if you're seeing 5 fleas, there are 95 other fleas to come later," said Dr. Steve Whatley, or Bush Animal Clinic.

The pupa stage can sit dormant for months and a passing shower can suddenly bring a whole new crops of fleas. Rains also bring more mosquitoes that can also be hazardous to your dogs heath because they transmit heartworms.

"The mosquito gets a blood meal from a dog that has heartworms and the heartworm actually goes through a life cycle change within the mosquito so it has to have that mosquito to transmit it from one dog to the other," said Whatley.

Ever wonder what they looked like, take a look at this dogs heart infested with heart worms.

"Those what look like spaghetti in there are heartworms and they reside in pulmonary arteries and in the right ventricle of the heart. They grow to be 14 inches long, it doesn't matter if you have a three pound Chihuahua or a hundred pound Labrador, they're still 14 inches long," said Whatley.

So how can you protect man's best friend. For fleas there's the topical treatments or a swallowed pill.

"We do have some shampoos, that we can use for fleas," said Senkbeil.

Mosquito bites are more tricky to prevent.

"I've known people to use skin so soft on their dogs, I've known people who would spray their dogs with Off, I can't really tell owners to do that, I don't know that there's any research to show that those are bad things to do," said Whatley.

That's why pets can be treated with a heart worm pill, that allows them to get the heartworms, but contains medication that kills the heartworms if your pet is infected.

Here in Georgia clinics that watch and report the disease can see between 50 and 100 cases per clinic per year.

Heartworms can be hard to detect because recently infected dogs may show no sign of the disease. Heavily infected dogs may eventually develop a persistent cough and a reluctance to exercise along with reduced appetite.

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