Members get our free digital magazine, rescue alerts, special offers and more.
Fleas & Ticks
Fleas thrive in temperatures between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit and in conditions of high humidity. Fleas live both on your animal and in your environment. Pre-adult fleas live in your home and yard and represent over 90% of the flea population. This immature form is more resistant to treatment than the adult flea.
Some animals may be heavily infested with fleas but will show little to no signs of irritation, while a flea-allergic animal may scratch continuously from the bite of a single flea. Many animals will scratch and bite themselves causing irritation of the skin, open sores and even fur loss. The best place to look for fleas on your cat or dog is over the back by the tail base and on the abdomen between the hind legs where there is less fur. Fleas move quickly, so oftentimes the flea cannot actually be spotted on the pet, but rather, evidence of flea infestation known as "flea dirt," or the stool of the flea, is found. Use of a flea comb will show any "flea dirt" present on your pet.
Ticks, like fleas, are a concern for every pet owner in warmer climates and during the summer months in cooler climates. The bite of a tick is irritating and may cause an allergic reaction. Ticks can carry and transmit diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ticks are parasites that must attach to an animal or human being in order to survive and mature. They are found outside in areas of low brush and shrubs. Although susceptible to the drying effects of heat and sunlight, ticks can hibernate and survive through winter.
The best way to check for ticks is to brush your pet daily. They can be anywhere on your pet, but are commonly found on the ears and in the ear canals, at the base of the ears and on the feet, and in between the toes. Ticks can be removed from your dog or cat by grasping the head of the tick where it attaches to the skin with tweezers and gently but firmly pulling back. Use caution when doing this and do not burn the tick or apply irritants to the tick such as rubbing alcohol, as both of these maneuvers can cause further problems for your pet. In most cases, a tick must be attached to your pet for prolonged periods (usually anywhere from 5-48 hours) to transmit disease. Therefore, a good method of prevention of tick-borne illnesses is to comb through your pet's coat daily and remove any ticks, as well as using topical tick preventatives.
Flea and Tick Treatment
Fleas, ticks and even mosquitoes can bring diseases into your home. The season begins when the temperature rises above freezing. The best time to apply topical flea control is before fleas start laying eggs and biting your pets. There are many brands of topical flea and tick preventatives currently available. Your veterinarian can make a recommendation that is best for your pet. . .
Even though the thought of insects and pests may make you cringe, you shouldn't let the idea of them attacking your pets or your home bug you. An arsenal of awareness, accurate information and good treatment is all you need to keep those pesky pests where they belong.
Browse our extensive expert advice by selecting categories below: