Protect Your Pets from Fleas and Ticks

Mosquitoes are the sole vector of heartworm disease in your pets, but ticks and fleas can cause many problems as well.

Fleas

Once you have a flea infestation, it can be challenging to get rid of them. They can adjust their life cycle, adapting and thriving even when it may not be ideal conditions. They can go two weeks without eating (blood meal) and females can lay up to 50 eggs at a time.

Fleas are the most common parasite found on dogs and cats. Aside from the infestation they can cause in your home and on other pets, there are other reasons you want to prevent fleas from occurring.that there are two types of itching associated with flea bites. The first is mild and the second occurs when the animal develops an allergy to the proteins in a flea’s saliva.  Dr. Daniel Morris, a professor at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, explains to PetMD, “Once an animal is allergic, the itch becomes impossible to ignore,” he says. “It’s itchy times 100.” If left untreated, the bites can get infected.

Fleas carry bacteria including some which can cause diseases in humans and one that causes “cat scratch disease”. Fleas also carry tapeworms, which are transferred to a dog or cat intestine if the animal eats the infected fleas.

Ticks

There are news reports every year about outbreaks of tick-borne diseases in humans. Generally we don’t hear much about how ticks affect pets unless it’s directly from our vet. Lyme disease can occur in pets, and cause similar symptoms that it does in humans such as swollen joints and fever. Rocky Mountain Fever, a condition not limited to the region for which it is named, can cause fever, joint pain, and loss of appetite.

Prevention and Treatment

The best way to protect your pet from fleas and ticks begins at the veterinarian. The vet can discuss with you what regular treatment would work best. The key is to maintain vigilance and treat regularly, as well as recognize signs of fleas and ticks on your pet.

Fleas will cause itching and irritation on your pet. If you notice your pet intensely scratching or biting themselves, look on their coat and skin. Fleas are dark brown and very tiny, so they may be difficult to see. If you have any doubt, ask your vet for help. Be careful what you treat with. Not all flea products are interchangeable among dogs and cats and could cause harm.

Depending on your pet’s coat and their willingness to stand still, ticks can be hard to spot. Click here for information from Center for Disease Control and Prevention on how and where to check your pet for ticks. Once a tick is detected and removed, alert your veterinarian if you see any signs of illness in your pet.

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