Which Are More Revolting: Fleas or Ticks? You Decide!

Which Are More Revolting: Fleas or Ticks?

There is no question that both fleas and ticks are terrible pests. Which one is worst than the other? Here are some creepy crawly facts about fleas and ticks, and you can decide for yourself.

Fleas and ticks arenโ€™t just annoyingโ€”they can potentially transmit life-threatening illnesses to your pet and even you. But, theyโ€™re not just annoying and donโ€™t just carry serious illnesses, theyโ€™re also gross. Theyโ€™re seriously disgusting. But which is more disgusting, the flea or the tick? We examine the nastiness of both of these little monsters and once youโ€™ve got a little nauseous, you can start to make up your mind. The revolution of revulsion is here. Which is your side?

Foul Fleas

While both fleas and ticks are more likely to bite your pets, both have been known to bite humans, and both have the potential to carry pathogens that can make you seriously ill. In terms of developmental feeding, only adult stage fleas are capable of biting you. However, their appearance in the larval stage and what they are eating instead of fresh blood raises the degree of disgust for fleas.

As larvae, fleas are white, maggot-like, legless, and blind, with tiny hairs running along with their bodies. They retreat from the light and wriggle into the smallest, most reclusive nooks and crevices they can fit into. They feed on the feces of adult fleas. They lay in wait near-adult fleas until the adult fleas defecate. They continue waiting for feces and any bits of dead skin, dust, or dander they can find and eat as much as they can before molting. Gross!

Terrible Ticks

Ticks, on the other hand, are capable of biting you in their larval, nymph, and adult stages, and in fact, need to feed on fresh blood to successfully progress through each respective stage of development. The notion that ticks are always on the hunt, and that all eight legs travel your body until setting up camp is more menacing than the adult-only bloodsucking fleas. Yet, the actual process that ticks go through when they commit to a bite is far more involved than how fleas bite.

Ticks use their hypostome to puncture the skin and feed. Once the ticks have reached past the skin, sharp teeth on the front of the hypostome start cutting blood vessels. After enough blood vessels have been severed, ticks secrete anticoagulants, preventing clotting and getting access to as much blood as possible. As the blood pools, the tick feeds. The salivary glands of hard ticks secrete a cement-like substance, anchoring them to their host. Barbs on their hypostome lock this needle-like protrusion in place, which they use like a straw to drink blood. Their cement-like secretions dissolve only when theyโ€™ve finished feeding. They can also carry a number of diseases.

So, after being exposed to some brief, dirty truths about these parasitic pests, which would be quicker to turn your stomach: a gaggle of fleas or a torrent of ticks? This is just a taste of the nastiness these creeps bring to the world. Arm yourself with knowledge and choose a side (but we recommend protecting your pet from both nasty critters).

Fleas and Lice: What's the Difference? 

Both fleas and lice are small, wingless, parasitic insects, capable of living on your pet (or on you). Fleas and lice cause great discomfort to their hostsโ€”mainly in the form of itchy skin, irritated skinโ€”but beyond these basic similarities, the two parasites do not have much in common. Where fleas are capable of jumping many inches in the air, lice are slow-moving and sedentary. Of the two insects, lice are easier to eradicate; dealing with fleas is a much more intensive and frustrating experience. That is why preventative medications like Vectra 3D are so important.

Can You Catch Fleas and Lice from Your Pet?

Fleas bite any warm-blooded mammal, including humans as well as cats and dogs. If your pet has fleas, you may find bites on yourself as well. In contrast, lice are species-specific. Children cannot pass lice to pets, and similarly, cats or dogs with lice cannot pass them along to people. 

Lice and Your Pet

Unlike humans, who catch and spread lice easily in social places like schools, cats and dogs who contract lice generally have bad nutrition and poor health and hygiene. Elderly pets, as well as puppies and kittens, are also more vulnerable. In particular, cats at kitty mills are prone to lice.

Dogs can be afflicted by two varieties of lice: biting lice and sucking lice. A different variety of biting lice use cats as a host. Cats with lice will be itchy, and their skin may get scabs and lesions from scratching. Dogs will experience similar symptoms and skin irritations as a result of lice.

Lice are relatively easy to treat; cat- or dog-specific shampoos and powders with pyrethrin, an insecticide, can be applied. Note that human treatments for lice should not be used on pets--they wonโ€™t help, and can potentially cause harm. Lice can also be treated with Frontline or similar prescriptions from your veterinarian. Ask your vet before treatment. After topical treatments, preventative medications can help remove any eggs on your pet.

Run your petโ€™s bedding through the laundry, and wash any areas where your pet typically sits or rests. Remember, your petโ€™s lice are not contagious to you, so if your pet isnโ€™t allowed on your couch or bed, you can skip cleaning those areas. Do sterilize any grooming tools that you use on your pet.

Fleas and Your Pet

Catching fleas is a matter of circumstance, contact, and bad luckโ€”since fleas thrive in warm, humid environments, be particularly watchful for fleas during the summertime. Even indoor cats can get fleas when you, or other pets, track them inside the house.

Compared to lice, eradicating fleas is a challenge. Youโ€™ll need to rid your pets and home of the parasite. You can treat fleas on cats or dogs with shampoos, spot treatments, or oral medications. If fleas have spread throughout your house, youโ€™ll need to carefully clean rugs and anything made from fabric, and use insecticide.

Prevention Is Key

Even lice, which are relatively easy to remove from your pet, are a pain to deal with, and both lice and fleas make your pet extremely uncomfortable. The best way to avoid these parasites is to use preventative treatments, like Frontline Plus k9 Advantix II or Advantage II.

More Flea and Tick Control Advice

25 Startling Flea and Tick Facts
How Ticks Bite
What if My Dog Eats a Flea or Tick? 

Was this article helpful?

You May Also Like