Vet Blog

What You Need to Know about Fleas and Ticks

August 01, 2019

Fleas and ticks are two of the most common parasites that can affect our pets.

Although many of us have heard of them, there are still a surprising number of Montgomery owners who know very little about these tiny creatures and just how unpleasant they can be for our pets. The good news is that both can be prevented so your pet never needs to be at risk.

When it comes to keeping our pets safe from parasites, knowledge is power. For this reason, we have put together the following information on fleas and ticks and why prevention is so vitally important.

What You Need to Know About Fleas

Fleas are tiny, wingless creatures that are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. They have immense jumping skills which they use to transfer from host to host. Here is what you need to know about them.

Fleas Can Be Tricky to Spot

Since they are so small, it can be hard to tell that your pet has a flea problem. They are small, dark dots that will be buried in your pet's fur but if you can't spot them you could look for flea dirt - flea feces - instead. This looks like regular dirt but turns red when it is made wet.

Fleas Reproduce Very Quickly

A couple of fleas can quickly become a huge population. This is because the average female flea can lay between 20 and 50 eggs each day and it takes around 21 days, or less if the conditions are right, for flea eggs to turn into adults capable of reproducing themselves. We will let you do the math!

Fleas Don't Just Make Your Pet Itchy

Itchiness and persistent scratching may be the most common symptom of a flea infestation but there are a lot more, including soreness of the skin, swelling, open wounds, and allergy symptoms since flea saliva contain toxins that many animals are hypersensitive to. Fleas also carry diseases such as typhus and tapeworms.

It Can Take Months to Get Rid of a Flea Infestation

One of the most notable things about fleas is that they are notoriously hard to shake. You need to treat both your pet and your home at the same time as flea eggs and larvae can lurk in the tiniest of spaces - between floorboards, under couches, and buried between carpet fibers. While you are treating your pet, you will need to vacuum everywhere at least once a day to eradicate all of the fleas that aren't currently living on your pet but instead squatting rent-free in your home! It is not unheard of it to take several months to completely clear a home of fleas!

What You Need to Know About Ticks

Ticks may be easier to spot than fleas owing to their size, but these tiny creatures can have serious consequences for your furry friend. Here in Montgomery, AL ticks are typically found in wooded or grassy areas and drop onto your pet when they pass by.

Ticks Will Feed for Days on End

Many people think that parasites like ticks only need a quick feed. However, ticks prefer to enjoy their meal slowly and this means that it isn't unheard of for a tick to stay attached for 72 hours or more.

Ticks Have Neurotoxins in Their Saliva

Some types of ticks have a neurotoxin in their saliva that causes paralysis. This condition is fairly rare, but if it does occur it could affect your pet's diaphragm, making it impossible for them to breathe and putting their life at risk.

Ticks Carry Serious Diseases

Ticks are best known for carrying a range of different and potentially serious diseases. These include Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, and more, all of which can have significant consequences for the health of your pet. It can take several hours of feeding for any disease that a tick is carrying to be transmitted to the host, so the sooner you remove a tick, the less likely it is that your pet will experience any lasting effects.

Ticks Can Be Removed Easily, But Carefully

A tick problem is much easier to treat than a flea problem, but you must be super careful when it comes to removing the tick from your pet's body. Twisting or crushing it could lead to it spilling potentially infected blood onto your pet's or your skin, putting you both at risk of developing an infectious disease.

Flea and Tick Prevention

If the thought of fleas and ticks is making your skin crawl, you will be very pleased to know that both are completely preventable. There are a variety of preventatives available ranging from topical spot-on products to oral medications that your vet will be able to recommend based on your pet's size and breed. It is important to note that all preventatives are only effective for a set period of time before another dose is required, so it is essential that you set reminders to ensure that you aren't late.

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