Flea & Tick Awareness
Fleas and ticks are blood-sucking bugs that can make your pet miserable. And since they are drawn to human blood as well, they can become a serious issue for your family too. In addition, they can cause various health problems, especially ticks. They transmit all sorts of diseases which can be fatal for your pet and cause very serious illness in humans: Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tick-borne meningoencephalitis and tularemia, to mention only a few. Any signs of flea and/0r tick infestation therefore require prompt action although prevention is the best way to deal with both types of parasites.
Flea & Tick Transmission
Ticks are most often contracted in the woods and high grass. They simply hang on the grass and low shrubs, and wait for a suitable host to come by. And they can wait for months because they can survive up to one year without feeding. But they can also be preying on your pet elsewhere. Including in your backyard. And so can fleas which, just like ticks, can get literally to your doorstep by falling off an infected animal passing by.
Flea & Tick Symptoms
Both fleas and ticks are easily detectable. If you notice tiny dark spots moving in your pet’s coat, or/and black/white specks, your pet has fleas. You should also check your pet’s fur for fleas if your four-legged friend is constantly scratching or if there are any bald patches, visible skin irritation, scabs or hot spots (in dogs).
Ticks may go unnoticed for a few days – until their body fills with blood to the extent that they can be both felt and seen. They can attach on any part of the body but they prefer the ears, head and paws (in dogs). In cats, they are most often found on the head near the ears or eyes.
Flea & Tick Treatment
Fleas are relatively easily treated with various flea control products including shampoos, sprays, dusts and spot-on products, some of which also eliminate other parasites and work as preventives at the same time. They are available over-the-counter but you are advised to consult your veterinarian about the advantages and disadvantages of particular products, and things such as dosage, safety, etc.
As much as ticks are concerned, they should be physically removed. Immediately! Grab the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently pull straight up. Don’t twist the tick and don’t try to “suffocate” it with petroleum jelly, alcohol or nail polish. Also, never handle ticks with bare hands. If you are not using tweezers, protect your hands with gloves or tissue paper.
Flea & Tick Prevention
There are many products that provide an effective protection against both fleas and ticks, with the most popular being collars and spot-on products. You are recommended to ask your veterinarian for advice in the selection of the best flea/tick preventives for your pet, especially if being very young/senior, having a medical condition or pregnant/nursing.
Even though the available flea/tick preventives are very effective, you are advised take these simple measures to further reduce the risk of fleas and ticks getting onto your pet:
– vacuum your home on a regular basis
– wash pet bedding at high temperatures every week
– keep the grass in your backyard short and regularly trim the shrubs
– keep garbage cans covered and pet food out of reach to stray and wild animals
– regularly inspect your pet for fleas and ticks