Fleas

What are fleas?

  • Fleas are found throughout the U.S. and are the most common external parasite of dogs and cats.
  • Measuring only 1-2 mm in length, these biting insects feed exclusively on blood.
  • Eliminating and preventing fleas can be difficult because their life stages (eggs, larva and adults) require different methods of control.

How do pets get fleas?

  • Even if your home is free of fleas, pets can become easily infested outdoors.
  • Fleas are incredible jumpers and will quickly hop onto any warm moving body.
  • They’re also great breeders, a single flea can multiply 2,000 fold!
  • Without effective flea prevention, it doesn’t take long for your home and pet(s) to become overrun by fleas.

Why is it important to avoid fleas?

  • Fleas are the most common cause of allergy, skin disease and tapeworms in pets.
  • Heavy flea burdens in puppies and kittens can lead to anemia and even death.
  • Prolonged skin problems from fleas make pets miserable and are expensive to treat

What is flea allergy dermatitis (FAD)?

  • Flea allergy dermatitis is a skin disease caused by allergy to flea saliva.
  • It causes prolonged skin rashes and severe itching in both dogs and cats.
  • Scratching from FAD leads to repeated skin infections, hot spots and hair-loss (especially on the hind end).
  • Pets with FAD may not show any fleas because they groom them all off.

How can I tell if my pet has fleas?

  • Your pet shows signs of flea allergy dermatitis (see above).
  • You find fleas or flea-dirt  on your pet’s fur.
  • You notice tapeworm segments on your pet’s fur or feces.

How do I prevent fleas?

  • Fleas can be prevented through a combination of avoidance and control.
  • Avoidance is easiest for indoor-only pets in flea-free homes.
  • Out-door pets can avoid areas which are high in moisture, warmth and shade, as these places are most prone to fleas. (Under bushes, leaf litter, buildings, etc.)
  • If avoidance is impractical, flea control is best accomplished by year-round use of monthly anti-flea meds.

How do I choose the best anti-flea product for my pet?

  • Many effective products are available. Choosing the best alternative can be challenging.
  • Important considerations include personal preference, as well as the specific needs of each pet.
  • Specific label information that will help determine a product’s suitability for your pet includes:
  • Species indications (dog, cat, ferret etc.)
  • Dosage (usually determined by weight)
  • Age limits (it may be harmful to puppies or kittens)
  • Route of administration (topical vs. oral)
  • Water solubility (for topical formulations). This is important for pets that swim or get bathed.
  • Effectiveness against other parasites (heartworms, ticks, etc.)
  • Side effects, precautions and contraindications
  • Safety in pregnant or nursing animals
  • Personal preference factors may include:
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Ease and convenience of use
  • The need to treat multiple pets
  • When in doubt, consult a local veterinarian. He or she can optimize a comprehensive parasite control program for all of your pets.

1 To find flea dirt, comb your pet well then shake the comb over a moist paper towel. Flea dirt specks (digested blood) will show a pale pink halo around them.

 

Ticks

What are ticks?

  • Ticks are Arachnids (related to spiders) found throughout most of the U.S.
  • They’re most active in warm weather and are plentiful in wooded outdoor areas.
  • The common brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus) can also live indoors.
  • All ticks are external, blood-sucking parasites and are a major cause of disease transmission to dogs and cats.

How do pets get ticks?

  • Ticks stay on grass, vegetation or leaf litter awaiting their next blood meal.
  • They’re attracted to warm moving bodies and quickly attach to a suitable passerby.
  • Under the right conditions (weather and habitat), pets can pick up ticks even after brief outdoor walks.
  • Indoors, the brown dog tick can infest walls, carpeting, furniture and kennels.

Why avoid ticks?

  • Ticks are potential health hazards.
  • A few examples of serious “Tick-Borne diseases” include:
  • Lyme disease
  • Tick-paralysis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Tick bites can also transmit some of these diseases to humans.

How can I protect my pets from ticks?

  • Tick protection involves avoidance and prevention.
  • Avoidance measures include:
  • Reducing exposure to densely vegetated areas (especially in warm weather).
  • Checking pets for ticks after they visit these areas.
  • Removing and killing ticks.
  • Avoidance is easiest for indoor pets from tick-free homes.
  • If avoidance is impractical, protection is best accomplished by consistent use of tick-preventive products.

How do I choose a tick preventative product?

  • Effective tick preventatives are available in two forms:
  • Topical (for dogs and cats)
  • Collars (for dogs only)
  • Specific label information that helps determine a product’s suitability for your pet includes:
  • Types of ticks killed (the broader the range the better)
  • Species indications (dog vs. cat)
  • Duration of activity
  • Dosage (usually determined by weight)
  • Age limits (could be harmful to puppies or kittens)
  • Effectiveness against other pests (fleas, mosquitoes, flies etc.)
  • Side effects, precautions and contraindications
  • Safety in pregnant or nursing animals
  • Personal preference factors to consider include: cost effectiveness and the need to treat multiple pets.
  • When in doubt, consult a local veterinarian. He or she can optimize a comprehensive parasite control program for all of your pets.