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Understanding Fleas & Ticks

What You Should Know About these Dangerous Pests

By Team PetCareRx. July 31, 2011 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

    DVM

Understanding Fleas & Ticks

Fleas and ticks threaten the health of both you and your pet. To understand the risks and how to battle them, read more here.

Fleas and ticks may pose a very real threat to the health and comfort of your pet. In addition to extreme discomfort, fleas and ticks can also cause serious health problems in pets and people. Don't compromise your pet's health--understanding fleas and ticks is the first step in preventing an infestation or infection.

FLEAS

Few creatures can inflict more misery, ounce for ounce, than fleas. These tiny, almost-invisible pests can make life miserable and disrupt your household with a vicious cycle of biting and scratching. Fleas may also cause flea allergy dermatitis in some pets and may be carriers of dangerous diseases.

TICKS

Often too tiny to be seen, ticks attach to pets and feed on blood until they are engorged. They thrive in high humidity and moderate temperatures, but can be found all over the country. Ticks may carry and transmit diseases, including Lyme disease, that can cause serious health problems for pets and people.

Where Fleas Hide

While most adult fleas are visible there are plenty of places for them to hide that you may not be aware of. Fleas hide in your carpet, bedding, around baseboards, cracks in floors, and in hard to reach areas. A flea can live for about a month without even feeding from your pet. Instead it will feed on dirt, debris, and body waste. Fleas will live outside in areas that have a lot of weeds, grass, or piled debris. Fleas can also be commonly found in sidewalk cracks. When fleas infest your pet they will hide around your pets ears, between paws, in armpits, skin folds, and at the base of their tail.

Warning Signs

Here are some typical warning signs that may indicate that your pet has fleas:

  • Scratching or rubbing excessively against objects to gain relief from itchiness.
  • Bacterial infections can be developed from flea bites and may need to be treated with antibiotics.
  • Excessive licking to soothe irritated areas where your pet has been bit.
  • Tapeworms can be contracted from ingesting just one single flea.
  • Flea dirt may be visible on your pet or in their bedding, this is the dried blood excreted from the adult flea.
  • Flea allergy dermatitis can be developed in the event that your pet has an allergic reaction to the flea's saliva. You may notice scabs or bumps on your pet’s back or neck.

How to Prevent Flea & Ticks

Applying a once monthly topical or oral flea treatment will not only kill your pet's fleas, it will prevent a possible re-infestation from occurring. Always try to keep all areas of your house and yard that you or your pets use clean. As your pet walks, fleas are able to hop on or off and eggs can fall of into your flooring. Vacuuming on a regular basis is important as fleas will hide in your carpet while waiting for a pet to feed off of.

Try to change your pet’s bedding as frequently as possible as this is a hospitable environment for fleas to live and feed off your pet while they are at rest. If it is machine washable bed, wash it in the hottest water allowable by the manufacturer.

More on Fleas and Ticks


25 Startling Flea and Tick Facts
Flea and Tick Medication Comparison Chart
Get Rid of Fleas in 8 Steps Infographic

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