Fleas and ticks are more than just an itchy nuisance. Left untreated, these pests can actually make your pet sick and even endanger his life.
For example, fleas can cause anemia and tapeworms, as well as flea allergy dermatitis, a serious skin condition that leads to severe itching and scratching, hair loss and potential infections. Ticks are even more dangerous, as they can transmit Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, among other diseases.
Common symptoms of tick-borne disease include everything from weight loss and lethargy to neurological signs, spontaneous bleeding or bruising and even seizures.
What You Need to Know
There are many misconceptions and myths about fleas and how they affect your pets and household. Maintaining a flea treatment regime is the first step in preventing an infestation. As pesticides have evolved so have flea survival rates. In fact, today it is much more difficult to rid your pets and environments of fleas. What used to take 1 to 2 months to gain control of a flea infestation now takes 3 to 4 months. Here are some tips and insights to consider in flea prevention:
- Fleas don’t like heat. They prefer temperate environments which makes our homes and pet beds an ideal environment.
- As weather transitions from hot to cool (fall and spring) expect a rise in flea activity and infestation. We see more cases of flea infestation in October and November than any other times of year.
- Just because you do not see fleas doesn’t mean they are not there. Fleas spend very little time on the host (your pet). Once fleas bite for their meal or lay eggs, they jump off of their host.
Keeping Your Dog Healthy
The best way to fight fleas and ticks is through prevention. It is important to find the right prevention treatment for you and your pet. There are currently three prevention treatment options:
- Oral – treatment given to your pet orally in the form of a treat or added into food
- Topical – treatment applied directly to your pet’s fur through medicated shampoo or creams
- Collar – treatment worn at the nape of your pet’s neck
If your dog already has ticks and fleas, these spot-on products can also be used as a treatment method. The best part? They’re highly effective, killing up to 99 percent of ticks and fleas in 48 hours or less.
We recommend the following five main products that work against fleas and/or ticks:
- Easy Spot: (cats) kills fleas, ticks, and chewing lice – contains Fipronil, the same active ingredient as Frontline. Protection lasts for 30 days.
- Parastar: (dogs) kills fleas, ticks, and chewing lice – contains Fipronil, the same active ingredient as Frontline. Protection lasts for 30 days.
- Seresto Collar: (dogs or cats) Kills fleas, repels and kills ticks. Protection lasts for 8 months. This collar is odorless, powder-less and leaves no greasy residue! The collar should stay on during bathing and swimming and is a break-away collar if it happens to get caught on something accidently.
- Vectra 3D: (dogs) repels and kills fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, biting and sand flies, lice and mites (excluding mange mites). Protection lasts for 30 days.
- Comfortis: (prescription only) kills fleas and controls infestations. We have select sizes for dogs only available in-house, more sizes and product for cats available from VetSource. Protection lasts for 30 days.
There are additional brands and products available in the market to fight ticks and fleas. Some of them protect only against one of these pests but not the other, so it’s important that you discuss your options and needs with your vet before making a decision.
Although the most common delivery method for tick control is through a spot on liquid (applied directly to the skin), tablets and injections are also available. As long as you follow instructions, the use of these products should be safe for your pet.
While these products will kill fleas and ticks, that won’t be enough if your house is infested. If you have several pets, you will to treat all of them at the same time, even if some of them don’t seem affected. Otherwise, the fleas will simply jump to another animal and the cycle will continue.
Serious flea or tick infestations can also get into your carpet, linens or furniture. Once these take hold of your home, you will need to do a full house cleanup in order to get rid of them. This might be something you can do on your own or you might need to call an extermination company for a thorough job.