Keep Your Pets Free of Ticks and Fleas this Summer

Summertime brings lots of fun activities for your family and for your furry friends too. But in many parts of the country, summer also means flea and tick season and with those nasty critters it can bring lots of discomfort for your pet.

Fleas are easy for your pet to catch and they are hard for you to get rid of. They thrive in a warm humid atmosphere of your pet’s fur. If you’ve never seen a flea on your cat or dog, they look like tiny little black or brown bugs no bigger than a sesame seed. You would probably notice ‘flea dirt’ before you see an actual flea. Flea dirt (flea droppings) look like flecks of black pepper and you may see them on your pet or in their hair when you brush them.

Fleas bite your pet and suck their blood for food.  If your pet picks up fleas from outdoors they will breed easily and quickly, especially in the summer and can jump from one pet to another and may even land on you!

In addition to itching from the flea bites your pet may also develop redness or hot spots.  if your pet has a flea allergy, their reactions may be more severe and the itching and hot spots may develop more quickly. 

Treatment for fleas can take many forms depending on the severity. There are powders, collars, monthly spot treatments, homeopathic remedies and diet alterations. You should consult your vet, and quickly, as soon as you notice fleas in order to get the most effective treatment for your pet.

Be aware that the lifecycle of the flea is long. The females lay eggs and they develop into pupae that may fall from your dog onto your carpet or your dog’s bed and emerge months later. If your pet has a heavy infestation, you need to treat them, but you must also treat your house and your garden to rid your home and yard of these pesky critters. 

Ticks are another common parasite that we find on our pets. Ticks are found in damp, wooded areas or areas with low shrubs and undergrowth. The ticks sit on these shrubs anxiously waiting for a host to walk by.

Ticks attach themselves to your pet by inserting their heads into the pet’s skin and drinking their blood. Before they attach, if you have a pet with light colored fur, you may see them climbing around on the pet’s body. This is the time to remove them (all of them) before they bite. Once they’ve attached their bodies start to fill with blood and you may feel them when you pet your dog or cat. They are usually found in the folds of their skin around their ears, or joints.

A tick infestation can be quite serious as ticks are carriers of Rocky Mountain Fever, Lyme Disease and other diseases. A few ticks are easily dealt with, but a tick infestation in a dog with a weakened immune system, or a small dog can develop into anemia and even death. They may or may not bother your pet, so it’s important to check your pet regularly, especially during tick season or if they have been in an environment where ticks might live. 

Removing embedded ticks can be tricky. Never use a match or some other home remedy you see on YouTube. Research on reliable veterinary websites for proper method. If you don’t fully remove the head, it may become infected. 

Tick prevention can be accomplished with many over the counter treatments. Speak to your vet about which may be optimal for your pet and lifestyle.

Resources:

https://www.petmd.com/flea-tick-survival-guide 

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/fleas-and-ticks

https://www.petmd.com/dog/parasites/evr_dg_does_my_dog_have_ticks

https://www.petmd.com/dog/parasites/evr_multi_understanding_the_tick_life_cycle

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