Protect Your Pet From Fleas to Protect Yourself

Fleas are terrible pests. In addition to causing your furry friend serious discomfort, they can also carry life-threatening diseases. But did you know that our pets aren’t the only ones affected when fleas enter the picture? Our bodies and homes are at risk, too. Here are four reasons to protect your pet from fleas so you can protect yourself, too.

1. Fleas Can Bite Us

While it’s true that fleas prefer animal blood, they will bite a human if the opportunity presents itself. And if your pet has fleas, the opportunity often does. Flea bites usually occur around the feet and ankles, but can also show up around the waist, armpits, groin, breasts, or in the folds of the knees or elbows. The bites appear as small, red bumps, and for most people, are extremely itchy. Some people are less sensitive to flea bites and may have only mild irritation or no irritation at all, but for those who experience itching, the sensation can be unbearable.

2. Flea Bites Can Cause Secondary Problems

Fleas can easily pass on diseases to pets, but for humans, the risk of contracting a disease from a flea is relatively low. Still, flea bites can cause other problems, such as scarring and infection if you scratch to the point of breaking the skin.

3. Fleas Can Take Over The House

Imagine sitting down on the couch to enjoy your favorite TV show when suddenly — eek! A flea jumps onto your arm. Or perhaps worse, you have guests over, and you notice a flea creeping along your friend’s shoulder. These are not extreme scenarios; when fleas infest your home, they really take over. Fleas lay eggs on your pet (as many as 50 in one day!), and as your pet moves around the house, those eggs disperse. Once this process is in action, it can be incredibly difficult to get rid of fleas.

4. Fleas Can Take Over The Yard

Your yard should be a place where you can catch a breath of fresh air, let the dog out to play, or have friends over for a BBQ. It shouldn’t be a place crawling with blood-thirsty pests. But if your pet brings fleas home from the dog park, kennel, or neighborhood, it can easily become that. Fleas love to post up around trees and in garden beds, prepared to pounce on the first warm-blooded creature that crosses their path. While it is possible to eradicate fleas from your yard, it’s just as difficult as removing them from your home.

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How Dog Diseases Can Inform Human Medicine

Ever since dogs first came into contact with humans, they have been serving us in extraordinary ways. Dogs are not only our companions, they can also herd, help us hunt, and be trained to work as service dogs, therapy dogs, police dogs, and military dogs. And according to recent studies, dogs can now provide another benefit to humans by allowing us to study their diseases.

Disease-Causing Genes

Domestic dogs can suffer from hundreds of the same diseases as people can, and the diseases present in similar ways. While that may not be a happy thought, what it means is that we can study our four-legged friends in order to better understand and find new therapies for human hereditary diseases.

Dogs are great study subjects because they make it easy to find disease-causing genes (much easier than it is in people). This is because domestic breeding of dogs has resulted in some inbreeding, and thus the spread of certain disease-causing genes within certain breeds. This type of breeding also means that all dogs within a certain breed are genetically similar, and therefore disease-causing genes can be identified in smaller groups of dogs as opposed to thousands of human patients and controls.

More Than Just Genes

Dogs are useful in studying human diseases not only because we can examine their disease-causing genes, but also because they share our environments.

This is important because things in our environments — including stressors and what we eat — can directly impact how genes are expressed, and so environmental factors that influence disease formation in humans can also affect our dogs.

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We’re Seeing Results

The study of diseases in dogs has already had some amazing results. Some studies have influenced the development of a new gene therapy for hemophilia, and another study that identified the genetic basis of narcolepsy in dogs allowed researchers to discover a previously unknown pathway in the brain.

It will be fascinating to see what else this partnership between human and veterinary medicine can accomplish.

Read the BBC’s full article.

For all the good that dogs can do for us, we should do good for them, too. Take care of your pet’s health by keeping up with veterinary visits, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on your pet’s medications, boarding, and more.