Your Guide to Preparing for Flea and Tick Season
As the weather gets warmer and Summer begins peeking around the corner, many people like to get outside and bring their furry friends along with them. However, some not-so-friendly foes, otherwise known as fleas and ticks, tend to have the same idea. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants to remind you of the importance of keeping your pet safe from fleas and ticks during the warmer months with these helpful tips!
Fleas are the most common external parasite for our four-legged friends. They are wingless insects that feed on blood, can jump up to two feet high and are persistent in the environment. They can live for as few as 13 days or as long as 12 months, and during their lifespan they can produce millions of offspring.
Symptoms of fleas, such as excessive scratching and hair loss, are similar between dogs and cats, but it is important to know what to look out for as fleas can cause health complications, like anemia.
Consult your veterinarian if you suspect your pet has fleas. Once your veterinarian confirms the diagnosis, a treatment plan may include:
- Topical or oral treatment or the use of shampoos, sprays and powders on the pet.
- Thorough cleaning of your house, including rugs, bedding and upholstery. Severe cases may require using a spray or a fogger, which requires temporary evacuation of the home.
- Lawn treatments may also be needed if your pet keeps getting re-infected ever time they go outside.
*It is very important not to use products on your cat that are intended for dogs.
Finding the right flea treatment product can be difficult as they come in all different forms with a variety of side effects. For flea prevention, there are many products available, both prescription and over-the-counter. You could also try using a flea comb on your pet and washing their bedding once a week. Keeping the outside of your house free from organic debris like rake clippings and leaves could also help prevent fleas since they like to hide in dark, moist and shady areas.
Use this list and consult with your veterinarian to pick the best options for flea protection for your pet.
Ticks are parasites that feed on blood and can plague our dogs and cats. Though their presence may not be noticeable, ticks can transmit many diseases through their bite.
Ticks tend to be most active in late spring and summer, but species and disease transmission can vary based on where you live. They can be found living in tall brush or grass where they can attach themselves to dogs and outdoor cats and are more prominent in warm climates and certain wooded areas of the Northeast. Ticks are often the size of a pinhead before they bite and prefer to attach close to the head, neck, ears and feet but can be found anywhere on your pet’s body. They can also transfer from pets coming into the household from outdoors.
While these parasites don’t often cause obvious discomfort, you should regularly check your pet for ticks if you live in an area where they are common, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors.
Run your hands carefully over your pet every time they come inside and pay close attention to the inside and exterior of the ears, as well as their head and feet. Common signs of a tick include:
- Blood Loss
- Tick paralysis
- Skin irritation or infection
- Lyme disease
If you do find a tick on your pet, it is vital to take proper care when removing it as any contact with the tick’s blood can potentially transmit infection to your pet or even to you. Follow these step-by-step instructions for a prompt and necessary but calm removal.
Consider mowing your lawn regularly, removing tall weeds, and making it inhospitable to rodents by keeping garbage covered and inaccessible to prevent picks. Many of the same products that treat fleas also kill ticks and prevent against future infestation.
If you think your pet has fleas or ticks or is showing any adverse reactions after receiving their flea and tick product, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888)426-4435 immediately.