Both fleas and ticks are small but dangerous. Fleas are ravenous and can consume 15 times their own body weight in your pet's blood. A serious infestation can cause your pet to become anemic. It is common for pets to have sensitivity to flea saliva and just one bite can cause a severe allergic reaction, leading to painful and intense itching. Fleas also transmit a variety of diseases such as bartonella and typhus, as well as tapeworms.
Female ticks can consume more than 100 times their body weight in your dog's blood, which can lead to anemia. Their bites may trigger allergic reactions, but even more dangerous are the diseases they can transmit, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which can also be transmitted to humans.
The best way to protect your pet and your family is to manage exposure to pests and take preventive measures to keep them at bay. Products like Frontline and PetArmor Plus for dogs or cats contain fast-acting formulas that could kill fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, ticks and chewing lice. These products can be administered monthly to stop the re-infestation cycle as well.
When you see fleas or ticks on your pet, there is a good chance that they are in your home as well. Simply treating your pet won't rid the problem entirely, because you risk re-infestation until pests are fully eradicated.
Household sprays, carpet powders and foggers kill fleas nesting in the home. Thoroughly vacuum and wash any carpeting, furniture or linens, including beds and pillows that your pet may have come into contact with.
Although you won't be able to control the outdoor environment as easily as the home, you should also treat your yard so that pests aren't reintroduced every time your dog or cat ventures outside. Prevent fleas and ticks from jumping onto pets when outside by spraying the yard and treating around the home's foundation to kill any potential flea populations. In addition to using a pet-safe insect repellant, cut down tall brush and grasses near the house or pet runs to reduce a pet's exposure to fleas and ticks.
HOW TO CHECK FOR FLEAS & TICKS
Adult ticks are often visible to the naked eye, so you may be able to spot them on short-haired pets. But with longer haired pets, it's best to do a thorough inspection with a fine-toothed comb.
Signs your pet may have fleas can include flea dirt (small dark flakes), excessive itching or scratching, redness and inflammation, hot spots and pale gums. You may also see adult fleas on your pet's coat and skin.
Follow this advice from the experts to find and eliminate fleas and ticks on your pet:
* First, use a fine-toothed metal flea comb. Run the comb along your pet's back or underbelly, making sure the comb comes in contact with the skin.
* If you pull out any fleas or ticks, immediately drown them in a nearby bowl of soapy water.
* Have your pet stand on a white sheet or towel. Then brush or rub your pet's coat. Small black specks on the white sheet or towel are more than likely fleas or flea dirt. Flea dirt can also look like sand.
* Apply a monthly topical preventive treatment to keep pests from coming back. Also be sure to treat your home and yard to prevent a recurrence.
CHOOSING PREVENTIVE TREATMENT
No two pets are the same, so it's a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before you begin a flea and tick preventive program. Some questions to keep in mind as you're determining the best treatment for your pet include:
* Is a topical or oral treatment most appropriate for my pet?
* How costly is the treatment?
* Can I get the treatment from a retailer over the counter, or is it available only through the veterinary office?
* Does it kill eggs and larvae to prevent the re-infestation cycle?
* How quickly does it begin working and how long will it last?
* Is it waterproof?
* Is it safe for breeding, pregnant and lactating animals?