Fleas and Ticks

When the warmer months of the year come around, the soft warm fur of your dogs and cats becomes the perfect environment for fleas and ticks. Although you see fleas and ticks more in the warmer months, you need to protect your pet(s) against them any time of the year.

Fleas

Fleas are wingless insects with mouth parts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. They are external parasites that feed on the blood of mammals and birds. Fleas on your pet(s) can cause too much blood loss (anemia) due to the fact that fleas can take in 15 times their own weight in the blood of your pet. Puppies and kittens are especially vulnerable. Pale gums and lack of energy are signs that your pet may be anemic and could be infested with fleas.

Fleas can also affect humans by jumping from your pet's fun/bedding onto your skin. Fleas lay eggs on your pet(s), then they fall off and hatch in your carpet, bed or other furniture. The fleas then feed on your blood and lay more eggs.

Below you will see the flea warning signs in dogs and cats.


Dogs:

  • Flea droppings (dark specs) in the fur
  • Flea eggs (white specs) in the fur
  • Excessive licking or scratching
  • Scabs or hot spots on the skin

Cats:

  • Flea droppings (dark specs)
  • Lots of scratching
  • Hair Loss
  • Scabs
  • Red, irritated skin

Ticks

Ticks are small arachnids that feed on the blood of mammals, birds and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. Ticks are carriers of a number of diseases that affect both humans and other animals. Ticks are most common in the warmer months but, like fleas, you should treat your pets all year.

Types of ticks:

Brown Dog Tick – also known as the kennel tick. This tick is very common across the United States. Because this type of tick does well indoors, it is very unique. It is reddish-brown and usually attaches around the ears or between your dog's toes. It rarely bites humans. This tick can cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Deer Tick – This reddish-brown tick is dangerous because it can transmit Lyme disease to dogs and people. The deer tick is also known as the blacklegged tick.

American Dog Tick – This is one of the most common types of ticks. It can be recognized by its large, silver spot behind its head. When full of blood, it can be the size of a small grape. If this tick stays on the animal for 5-20 hours, it could spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and can be fatal to the dog.

Symptoms of tick-borne disease such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or ehrlichiosis are:
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Joint swelling/pain
  • Headache
  • Vomiting

How To Protect Against Fleas and Ticks

  • Consult your veterinarian to find out the best way to protect your pets from fleas and ticks.
  • Use a flea comb to remove fleas and “flea dirt”.

  • Use a flea and tick control product on your pet prescribed by your veterinarian. Use these products only on the animal specified on the label. Make sure you follow any label prohibitions and apply only the amount recommended for the size of the animal being treated.
  • Monitor your pet for side effects and keep the package with the product container in case of any adverse side effects. This will have the manufacturer's contact information on it.
  • Ticks most often attack near the head, neck, ears of paws on dogs and ears and eyes with cats. Ticks crawl onto tall grass/shrubs and wait to attach to the animal. They can go a year without feeding.

How to Remove Ticks (If you are unable to get your pet to a veterinarian)

  1. Use gloves to cover your hands
  2. Grasp the tick with tweezers from the side, by its head, close to the skin
  3. Pull straight up. Do NOT twist - twisting or pulling too hard may cause the head to remain in your pet's skin which can then lead to an infection.
  4. Do not squeeze (or pop) the bloated belly
  5. Place tick in some alcohol for a few days and then dispose of it once it is dead