Fleas and ticks can happen any time of year, but they thrive in the warmer months. That may seem like a long way off with the weather being very un-March like. But the sun will come and it’s certain to bring fleas and ticks. So let’s shake off the winter blues and get our pets ready!
Most pet owners will only treat fleas and ticks once their pet already has them, but treatment works best when it’s administered regularly. Soft, warm fur is the perfect environment for fleas and ticks to breed and flourish as they can go undetected longer. Most treatments tend to last roughly 4-6 weeks depending on how often your pet is washed.
Fleas and ticks
Signs of Fleas
- Excessive licking
- Excessive scratching
- Flea droppings in fur (looks like dirt)
- Flea eggs (looks like dirt)
Fleas can feed up to 15 times their own weight in blood. If dogs or cats loose too much blood they can develop anemia. This is particularly dangerous for puppies and kittens.
Signs of anemia caused by fleas
- Pale gums
- Lack of energy
Unfortunately, fleas don’t just love animal blood; they love human blood too, and can cause lot of annoyance. Fleas can jump straight from your pet’s fur or bedding right onto your skin, so it’s important that when in your home to treat the cause as soon as possible. It’s said that for every flea you see on your pet, vets estimate that there are 100 more in your home.
Just like fleas, ticks feed on an animal’s blood but are easier to feel and see. On dogs, they tend to attach themselves around the neck, head, ears or paws and on cats they are normally found around ears and eyes. It’s important to remove ticks as soon as possible as they carry diseases. Ticks climb onto tall blades of grass or shrubs and wait for host bodies to walk pass.
Tick borne diseases:
Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis all have similar symptoms in dogs, including:
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Joint swelling or pain
- Skin irritation or infection
- Tick paralysis
Tick-borne diseases are uncommon in cats, but they can get a tick infection called cytauxzoonosis, which can be fatal! So it’s important to keep pests off your cat and out of the home.
Safe ways to remove ticks
I strongly recommend getting a tick removal tool from your vet – this simple tool is ideal for removing ticks and is far less likely to break the tick leaving parts of it in your pet.
Once removed, wash the bitten area and your hands. Speak to your vet if unsure about removal or need advice.
Keep ticks away
Ticks can wait up to a year without feeding. They’re easy for dogs and cats to pick up while walking in high grass fields and woodland areas from spring to autumn. Pet owners can seek a vaccine to help protect their pet if you live in a high risk area. Otherwise there are other simple tips to help keep ticks away:
Regularly cut your grass and shrubs
Keep rubbish covered (to deter rodents)
Vacuum carpets often
Empty canisters or throw away vacuum bags.
Mop hardwood floors with detergent every week.
Wash all bedding often.
Tick problems for humans
Ticks can also be a problem for humans just as much your pets. Lyme disease is the most commonly known tick borne illness humans can get and although you can’t get it directly from your pet. The same tick that bits your pet and then bites you can give you the illness. One of the first symptoms is a bull’s-eye shaped rash.
There are so many options for pet owners to try to treat ticks:
Collars have proven to ward off fleas and ticks and is quite popular among pet owners. Make sure you read the labels and follow the directions on the packaging as puppies and kittens may require a lower dosage. Keep the collar away from children and always wash your hands after handling it.
Some dogs and cats can take treatment in tablet form by mouth. They come in daily and monthly forms with some even protecting your pet for a month. There are also dog only tablet products, so it’s important NOT to give these too cats as it can be fatal. Always check with your vet to see which treatment is right for your pet.
Investing in a flea comb can really help when trying to root out fleas, especially cats to get under the neck, belly and base of the tail.
Fleas and ticks are an inevitable part of having a pet. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect fleas or ticks or for recommendations on treatments. And if you have multiple pets in your home, make sure they are ALL treated at the same time.