Ticks & Fleas – H&S Pets Galore
Ticks & Fleas: Parasites That Feed On Your Pets!
Noticed your pet scratching constantly? Ticks & fleas are the most common unwanted, external parasites that invade your pet and can lead to serious issues such as injury from over-scratching to allergic reactions and other diseases. These parasites feed on the blood of your pet and if you don’t get rid of them, they could also cause your pet to become anemic. It’s therefore important that you keep your pet parasite-free. Usually, these pests are more frequent during warmer months and usually picked whilst your pet is wandering outside. However, having said that it’s important to take the necessary measures to make sure your pet is parasite-free throughout the year.
Facts About Fleas & Ticks-
- There are 4 stages in the life cycle of ticks: the egg which then becomes a 6-legged larva and then into an 8-legged nymph and finally an adult and during each stage, they must feed on blood. Similarly, fleas also have 4 stages in their life cycle: an egg which becomes a larva and then a pupa, and finally an adult, but they require an optimal temperature and humidity for growth.
- Both ticks & fleas carry diseases.
- A female tick lays 1000s of eggs/day whereas a female flea lays 20-50 eggs/day or up to 2000 eggs in their reproductive lifetime of 120 days.
- Ticks attach deep into the skin to feed, this is why ticks should not be pulled off.
- Fleas have an anticoagulant in their saliva which allows them to feed constantly.
- Fleas can jump long distances almost up to 200 times their body length, ticks, on the other hand, are arachnids and can’t jump or fly but use their legs to crawl.
How To Tell If Your Cat Or Dog Has Ticks-
Fleas are more noticeable on pets. You can even feel them as bumps on your pet when you touch them. The most common places to look for fleas are near the head and neck, ears, and paws. On cats mostly look around ears as well as eyes. In order to remove ticks, you need to be careful and must never pop/squeeze them. You should wear gloves and use tweezers to pull them straight up.
In dogs there are 3 common tick-borne diseases to look out for:
Lyme Disease caused by the deer tick is dangerous to both dogs and people. Lyme disease causes lethargy, fever, joint pain, and, sometimes, serious kidney disease in dogs. and signs of infection can take weeks to months before they appear.
Ehrlichiosis caused by the brown dog tick also known as the kennel tick is the most common globally and it also thrives indoors. This tick rarely bites humans but in dogs, it can cause loss or decreased appetite, weight loss, runny nose, and watery eyes, with enlarged lymph nodes or limbs.
Babesiosis caused by Babesia, infects the red blood cells and can be a life-threatening condition. The signs to look out for include lethargy, pallor, swollen lymph nodes, dark urine, and fever.
Apart from tick-borne diseases, anemia, skin irritations, and infections, some ticks may have a toxin that could lead to tick paralysis in dogs, which makes the muscles weak, however, once the ticks are removed your dog should recover.
Unlike dogs, in cats, tick-borne diseases are uncommon but you need to be careful of cytauxzoonosis a tick infection that is often fatal.
How To Tell If Your Cat Or Dog Has Fleas-
You may notice dark specs of droppings in the fur that resemble dirt. Your pet may scratch/lick excessively. There may also be scabs or hotspots or you may even notice the fleas as moving dark spots. It’s important to understand that a flea can take blood as much as 15 times their own body weight. This can make your pet pale and lethargic as they develop anemia. Fleas can therefore pose a greater threat to smaller pets mainly puppies and kittens as they can get anemic quickly. Apart from anemia, fleas can lead to skin diseases in both cats and dogs as their bite injects saliva which could trigger an allergic reaction. You may notice your pet intensely itch or patches of hair loss, scabs, and inflamed & irritated areas which could further lead to skin infections. Remember for every flea you see on your pet, there must be 100 more in your home, the reason being as a flea lays eggs on your pet some may fall off onto your flooring or carpet & they love and thrive in a warm and humid environment. Fleas love sucking on blood including humans and can be a real pest, it’s therefore important to get rid of them as soon as possible to avoid infestations.
How To Prevent Tick & Flea Infestations-
1. Stay Pest-Free By Paying Attention To Your Yard and Home- As you know ticks love warm and grassy areas it’s important to make sure you keep that grass short, rake leaves and cover your garbage. To keep your house pest-free, if you do have carpets vacuum and clean them regularly and empty your vacuum bags immediately. Mop your floors with a detergent weekly and make sure you clean your bedding regularly. This way you will minimize the risks of harboring these parasites.
2. Careful Brushing- Brush your dog thoroughly especially its face, neck, and legs especially after a walk in the forest before your dog gets into the car. This will get rid of ticks that could have been picked up during the walk.
3. Consult Your Vet For Tick/Flea Prophylactic Treatment- This includes a range of things from treated collars to ward off these parasites, to chewable tablets that can kill both fleas and ticks. There are medicated shampoos, sprays and so much more to pick from. Although it’s important to note that most medicated shampoos and sprays have chemicals and may not be the best option for your pet. Hence always consult your vet to pick the best treatment for your dog or cat.
Avoid using home remedies without consulting your vet as most don’t work and can also be detrimental to your pet’s health.
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