Fleas and ticks – what you need to know

 dog-cat-fleas-ticks

The words alone make us squirm. Fleas and ticks have been on earth long before we arrived, and they’ll probably still be here long after we’ve all moved to Mars. Here are some interesting and thought-provoking facts you should know about fleas and ticks, and more importantly, some great ideas on how to fight these parasites.

The female flea lays 20 eggs per day. If half those eggs hatch into fertile female fleas, your pet could potentially be facing 20,000 fleas in 60 days. If you have a multiple pet household, know that fleas can jump 100 times their length, so Fluffy and Fido will almost definitely share those 20,000 fleas in two short months.

Cold temperatures don’t always kill fleas, and larvae can survive short bouts of freezing temps in their cozy cocoons. The only temperature that can kill mature fleas is the hottest setting on your dryer – for at least an hour. Do not blow dry your pets at high temps!

 

How to control fleas

For ongoing flea control, spot treatment is the first preventative resource. Placed onto the skin usually at the nape of the neck, the liquid medicine is absorbed through the skin into the blood stream and effectively poisons the little blood-suckers.

You can also use special shampoos and dips (maybe not on Fluffy!) if necessary, but always consult your vet before attempting these methods.  If the infestation is serious, you should probably call the exterminator rather than attempt to de-flea your house on your own, so be proactive!

 

How to eliminate & prevent ticks

Ticks are arachnids, making them close relatives of spiders and scorpions. They are responsible for spreading Lyme disease, so it’s important to take preventative measures for both you and your pets. Ticks cannot fly or jump, but they can climb, and that’s how they attach themselves to their hosts – by climbing up from the grass and shrubs to the ankles … well, you get the picture.

Tick saliva acts as a cement that anchors the tick to the skin, making their removal difficult. They are most active during the warmer months.

Avoid direct contact with ticks by steering clear of wooded areas with high grass and leaf litter. Ask your vet about tick repellents for your pets, and consider a short summer haircut if you have long-haired pets like Golden Retrievers or Persians.

If you think your pet has been exposed to ticks, examine her skin closely, and if you find one, remove it with purpose made tick tweezers, making sure the body comes off whole, including the head.  

Ask your vet about tick repellents including topical medications and tick collars and include vector-borne disease screening in your pets’ annual checkup. It’s always better to be safe than sorry - you may not know your pet is suffering from a potentially lethal tick disease until it’s too late.

 

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