Proper preventative care is essential if you are to keep your furry family member safe from parasites. Fleas and ticks are two of the most common type of parasite affecting our pets, but a surprising number of owners have very little knowledge about these irritating and potentially dangerous creatures.
Here we have compiled a list of the most frequently ask questions we receive about fleas and ticks.
Why is flea and tick prevention important?
Many people think that external parasites are merely nuisances that cause our pets to itch. However, they pose a considerably bigger risk to the health and happiness of your furbaby. Not only can a single bite from a flea or tick cause your pet to experience allergy symptoms such as itching, swelling and soreness, these parasites also carry a variety of serious and sometimes deadly diseases.
Fleas and ticks can also affect the human members of your family, so by administering an effective preventative to your pet, you are also reducing the likelihood that you too will be bitten.
How do I know if my pet is affected by fleas or ticks?
Neither ticks nor fleas present many symptoms unless your pet is suffering from an allergic reaction to the bite, or from one of the contagious diseases spread by the parasites. Constant, persistent itching may occur, but many pets scratch frequently anyway.
The easiest way to know if your pet is affected is to check her coat and skin. Ticks are easier to spot than fleas. They are still very small, but once they have fed they can swell up to the size of a fingernail. Various species come in a variety of colors, ranging from pale white to dark brown. Their bodies a teardrop shaped, and they have a mouthpiece which will be buried in your pet’s skin.
Fleas are virtually invisible to the naked eye. However, most owners identify an infestation by spotting ‘flea dirt’. This is actually flea excrement that can be found in your dog’s coat. It appears as dark-colored flecks that look like dirt.
Are ticks and fleas easy to treat?
Ticks are a relatively straightforward parasite to treat. Removing the tick is essential, and our vet may recommend that your pet has a short course of antibiotics to prevent any infections.
Unfortunately, fleas are much trickier to get rid of. Not only will they live quite happily on your pet, they will also make your home theirs, reproducing until there are thousands or more living in your carpets, floorboards and soft furnishings. If your pet has a flea infestation, you will need to treat both her and your home at the same time. Even then, it can take several months before your home is completely flea-free.
Please be aware that if your pet has developed a disease due to transmission from a tick or flea, this will also require treatment. Our vet will be able to discuss your pet’s case with you individually.
How do I remove a tick?
Removing a tick is pretty straightforward. Pop on a pair of gloves before you start as you don’t want to risk getting infected blood on to your skin.
- Take a sterilized pair of tweezers or a specialist tick removal tool
- Grab the tick firmly behind the head, but don’t squeeze
- Pull with gentle force and the tick should come free
- If the head remains stuck inside her body, leave it as her body should automatically reject it as a few days.
- Dispose of the tick in a jar of alcohol to kill it. Alternatively, you can flush it away down the toilet. If you are concerned that your pet may have developed a tick-borne disease, keep the dead tick and get our veterinarian to test it.
What preventative medications are available
We always recommend prevention over treatment as it can safe your furbaby from unnecessary discomfort and suffering. There are a huge number of different preventatives available, making it easy to find the one that is most suited to your pet. Check out collars, spot-on treatments, oral medications, sprays, shampoos and more to see which would be best for your animal. Ensure that you always top-up her protection before the previous one runs out. Any days left unprotected could see her vulnerable to these parasites.
Can I combine flea and tick medications?
Many manufacturers have done this for you already as there are numerous solutions that protect animals against fleas and ticks at the same time. Check the labels carefully for information and instructions.
Still have questions? No problem, our team of veterinarians in Gainesville is happy to help. Contact Shores Animal Hospital today for more information.