Any pet owner that has gone through the hassle of a flea or tick infestation can attest to how stressful it can be for not only themselves but their pet as well. Nasty flea and tick bites can cause great irritation and can also lead to serious health problems like hair loss and disease. On the bright side, there are several solutions you can use to prevent and treat infestations more effectively than ever.
Please remember, before using any product to treat flea or ticks, to read the product label and instructions for any important information or restrictions that may need to be applied.
Warning Signs of Flea and Tick Infestation
The most common indication that your pet has fleas or ticks will be increased scratching. Flea bites are painful and irritating to your dog and you should notice them scratching with their paws or biting at areas that have fleas. If you notice scratching, check your dog’s skin for signs of irritation or flea bites. Fleas can also be confirmed by the presence of “flea dirt.” As fleas take in your dog’s blood, they excrete small flecks of dried blood that resemble dirt or dust. You may also see actual fleas on your dog, but they are good jumpers and move quickly so it is a good idea to keep other indicators in mind.
A flea infestation can also lead to irritating Flea Allergy Dermatitis, painful allergic reaction to flea saliva. This can result in increased bumps and lead to increased scratching and scabbing. If you notice your pet losing weight or having other digestive problems, it could indicate the presence of a tapeworm. The tapeworm’s eggs are eaten by larval fleas. If your pet accidentally eats these larval fleas, the tapeworm can hatch and grow into a parasite inside of your animal, robbing them of important food and nutrients.
Young, old, or sick pets can also become anemic if too many fleas are taking too much blood out of your animal. If you notice pale gums, weakness, or lethargy in an animal during a flea infestation, contact your vet immediately.
Most flea populations thrive in the spring to summer months when the climate is warmer. Some can live in colder months, especially with warmer indoor temperatures.
Flea & Tick Prevention
The old saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," and that can definitely be applied to flea and tick care. Eradicating fleas and ticks can be a troublesome and time consuming endeavor, so following a few preventative care tips can save you a lot of time and effort.
First, consider your pet's environment. If your dog frequents a home or area where there are fleas present, chances are they will eventually bring them home. If you suspect your home has an infestation, you can try an Indoor Fogger. Simply set the fogger for dispersal and leave your home while it is fumigating. Foggers will kill fleas, flea larvae, ticks, along with many other bug pests and prevent them from returning for up to 6 months.
Keeping your pet and their surroundings clean can help keep your pet safe from fleas and ticks. Regular baths and routine washing of your pet's beds and mats can prevent pests from setting up a habitat.
Give your pet's hair and skin regular inspections with a flea comb. If you can catch and remove fleas or eggs you can possibly prevent a full infestation.
Ticks are common in wooded areas. If your pet takes a trek through the woods, give them an exam, looking for ticks under their legs, behind their ears and throughout their skin and fur.
Flea and Tick Treatment
Sometimes, even with the best efforts fleas can make their way into your home and onto your pet. While an initial setback, there are several products that can help eradicate these pesky pests and keep them away. When treating for fleas and ticks, it is important that you treat both your dog and their environment. You can rid your dog's body of the pests, but if fleas and ticks remain in their living space, it will be a continuous problem. Most treatments are not recommended for puppies. Please check the product label or instructions before begging a treatment.
The first types of treatments are referred to as "Knockdowns." These treatments are effective in the short term, while they are being used. Examples of knockdown solutions include:
Shampoos: Designed to kill fleas and ticks on contact, shampoos are effective at removing existing pests on your dog's coat and skin.
Powders: When used on your rugs and carpets, powders are effective at killing fleas and ticks in a contained area. Simply shake the powder onto your carpet. After it has had time to take effect, vacuum the area and existing fleas and ticks are removed. Remember to dispose of the vacuum bag or contents afterwards.
Sprays: Great for use in concentrated areas like dog beds and mats; you can hit small areas quickly, killing fleas and ticks on contact.
Collars: Fitting around your dog's neck, flea collars are made with materials formulated to kill flea and ticks on contact.
Flea Traps: Pesticide-free, flea traps use infrared light and heat to attract fleas to a sticky pad.
The second types of treatments are referred to as "Residuals." These treatments, when used on a regular basis, are the most effective at killing fleas and ticks and ensuring they do not return. Most residual treatments are effective for one month. Common examples of residual treatments include treatments like Frontline, Advantage, and Fiproguard. These are topical treatments that you apply to your dog's back. Active ingredients in each kill adult fleas and ticks and their eggs and larva and prevent them from returning for one month, for as long as you continue application.
For a more detailed look at Flea Treatment & Prevention, view our Flea Treatment Plan Sheet Here
It is important to note that you should never use a flea and tick product designed for dogs on a cat. Many flea and tick products for dogs contain ingredients such as pyrethrins which, while are natural ingredients, are toxic to cats. Accidental exposure to pyrethrins can lead to harsh reactions including violent muscle tremors and even death. If your cat comes into contact with such products, contact your veterinarian immediately. Treatment can be very stressful and highly expensive, so please be careful when using flea and tick solutions meant for dogs.
If you take an active approach and monitor your pet and their environment you can hasten an infestation. If they still make it through your defenses, there are several options that can quickly and effectively fight their intrusion. With this knowledge, you should now be able to effectively prevent, treat, and eliminate pesky fleas and ticks. Your dog will thank you!