Dealing With Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are equal opportunity parasites, happy to infest dogs, cats, and even humans. They can incite itching frenzies, but the real problem they pose is the variety of health issues they can cause the furry and furless members of your family. Prevention is the best course of action but, once the irksome insects have invaded, the next step is getting rid of fleas and ticks.

Little Pests, Big Trouble

Fleas and ticks are hard to see, often appearing as mere specks. They’re tiny, but they can mean big trouble for cat and dog health. The most common issues they cause are rashes and skin conditions. WebMD1 says that fleas can infect your pet with tapeworms and make him anemic, as well.

Ticks can be easier to spot than fleas, but they can cause much more serious health problems, including transmitting fatal illnesses. Most people know that tick bites can result in Lyme disease in both humans and animals, but they can also spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Some potentially deadly tick-transmitted diseases include babesiosis, tularemia, and ehrlichiosis, among others.

Where Do They Come From?

Fleas and ticks can be passed from one animal to another. Plus, ticks have a habit of hiding out in tall grass or low shrubs. All your pet has to do is pass by close enough for one of the little critters to jump on. Because of climate, the parasite population is a little less prevalent in some areas than others. However, fleas and ticks can be found all over the country, so no pet is completely safe.

An Ounce of Prevention

Flea and tick prevention is safer and easier than dealing parasites after they’ve infested your pet. VetStreet2 points out that current flea and tick meds offer choices in treatment options to fit your pet’s lifestyle. Oral medicines aren’t as messy as topical ones, and it won’t matter whether your pet gets wet before they start to work. On the other hand, topical flea and tick treatments are easier to administer to pets who are difficult to medicate. If you’re concerned about the effects of flea and tick treatment for cat and dog health, your vet can recommend the best treatment for your furry friend.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Getting rid of fleas and ticks once they’ve infested your pets starts with grooming. Thoroughly groom your pet at least once a week to look for parasites, but also do it after each visit to unfamiliar outdoor areas. Use a flea comb, and dip it in tepid, soapy water as you go. If you find a tick, remove it quickly. The best way for removing ticks from cats and dogs is to grab the tick as close to its head as possible with a pair of tweezers and gently pull it out. Drop it in alcohol to ensure it won’t live to bite again.

Of course, if all you do is treat your pet and not the environment they live in, fleas and ticks will eventually re-infest. Since the three areas the parasites thrive in are on animals, in the house, and in the yard, you need to treat all three to prevent them from coming back. There are powders, shampoos and collars that will kill fleas and flea larvae on your pets, and sprays to treat their bedding and your carpets. Some shampoos and sprays are also formulated to repel ticks.

Also, keep your pets indoors, or at least in your own yard. There, you can control the parasite population by trimming tall grass and weeds, raking leaves, and manage mice and other vermin that carry the pests. Additionally, Pratt’s Pets carries sprays and powders to rid your yard of fleas and ticks.

1 http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dog-ticks-and-fleas?page=2
2 http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/what-every-pet-owner-should-know-about-preventing-fleas-and-ticks?page=3