(KCBS) – Summer is here, the weather is warmer, and folks are starting to see flea and tick problems in their pets. Fleas in the Bay Area especially are a big nuisance. They’re not only irritating, figuratively and literally, but they can also pose some very real health risks.

KCBS’ Jeff Bell talks to Dr. Jack Aldridge, Director of Veterinary Services at The San Francisco SPCA, about these seasonal annoyances.

Many animals are allergic to flea bites and can develop rashes, inflammation and hair loss, especially over the hips and rump. Those disgusting little tapeworms are easily transmitted to dogs and cats, by eating fleas on their coats, and a heavy flea infestation can even cause life threatening anemia in weak or young animals. You may be familiar with the fact that ticks carry and spread Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other nasty ailments which can affect both people and pets.

The flea life cycle is short but relentless, and constant efforts are required in our temperate climate, where fleas can breed year round. An adult flea can lay hundreds of eggs in a very short period of time. The modern flea control arsenal is extensive, including both topical “spot-ons,” as well as oral medications.

But some products have more risk of side effects and toxicity than others, so always consult with your veterinarian, who knows the health status of your pet, to determine the best weapons against these parasites.

Animal Update airs on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM on Sundays at 1:35 p.m., 3:35 p.m., and 9:21 p.m.

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