Spring is coming and that means fleas and ticks are emerging. Fleas and ticks carry a number of diseases that affect both our pets and us. It’s important to prevent them before they become a problem.
A zoonotic disease is one that goes from an animal to a human. This includes vector species like fleas and ticks. They don’t care where their source of blood comes from and are just as willing to latch on to you as your best four-legged buddy.
Humans and animals are both susceptible to many diseases such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Tapeworms are also spread by fleas and can infect humans as well.
Read our blog Climate Change and Top 6 Parasites to learn more.
Fleas are small brown insects that are active during warm weather. They prefer temperatures above 65 degrees which also means they can live in your house year long.
Fleas do not have wings and so they can’t fly. They do however have strong back legs which they use to jump. They can jump from the ground to your pet.
Fleas multiply very quickly! One female can lay 2000 eggs as she nourishes herself on your pets blood. Depending on the environmental conditions these eggs can hatch in just a couple of days.
The flea has four stages in its life. This is important to know because different flea products target different stages of the flea’s life.
Egg – eggs hatch on your pets
Larvae – the larvae start to feed on your pets blood and eat the fleas waste
Pupa – at this stadge the fleas form cocoons (just like butterflies but not so pretty) and often hide in your furniture
Adult – the adult emerges from the cocoon and starts the cycle again by sucking on your pets blood.
Fleas are a host for tapeworms and can spread these to your pet. You will need a separate medication for worms.
Read our blog Heartworms Are Forever to learn more about this deadly parasite.
Ticks are arachnids, like spiders, and prefer warm humid climates like Kentucky. They have eight legs and crawl to get on a host. Ticks have been around for millions of years and developed during the Late Cretaceous period.
Like fleas, ticks have several life stages. The tick takes two to three years to go from an egg to an adult but that may vary with temperature and environmental conditions.
Ticks lay their eggs in the environment, such as a field or your lawn. You may have heard to mow your yard to help prevent ticks. This is because ticks like to climb up tall blades of grass and weeds and wait for a host to come by.
The tick senses the host by detecting the animals breathe, body odors and movement. Some ticks can even recognize a shadow.
Steps to Prevention
Prevention starts with basic grooming and observation. Buy a flea comb and run it through your pet’s fur. If you see any small dark flecks that are flea poop. I know – gross.
Look over your dogs’ body for any ticks. Ticks like to hide in folds of skin such as around ears and base of neck. They like areas they can easily access the skin such as the belly.
Wash your pets bedding and stuffed toys on a regular basis. Vacuum weekly and throw away the vacuum bag or dump the container outside.
Many dogs and cats have an allergic reaction to fleas. This causes further skin irritation and additional scratching as well as hot spots and hair loss.
Bathe your dog as needed to remove dead skin and any flea residue.
We Carry Several Flea and Tick Preventions
We carry BRAVECTO in our online pharmacy. Just click the BLUE BUTTON in the top right corner. You will need a prescription from Dr. Glaza for this drug.
Bravecto works for up to 12 weeks to protect your dogs from fleas and most ticks. If you are combating the Lone Star tick then you will need to reapply after 8 weeks.
For dogs it comes in a topical or tasty chew so you can choose the application method that works best for you. Dogs must be six months old before starting with Bravecto.
Cats use the topical application only and should weigh at least two and a half pounds before starting treatments.
NexGard is available at the clinic with curbside pickup. It is a monthly dose that is available in a yummy chew. It is safe for puppies and dogs older than eight weeks and over four pounds.
NexGard is just for dogs. We carry Frontline Plus for our cat clients.
NexGard has FDA approval for killing black-legged ticks which are responsible for Lyme disease.
We carry Frontline Plus in the clinic with curbside pickup for our cat clients. Frontline kills adult fleas and ticks and their eggs. For cats eight weeks and older.
Frontline is a topical application that you put on your cat monthly.
Talk to your vet about which flea and tick prevention will work best for you. For our clients in Northern Kentucky, give us a call at 859-472-4141
Author, Ame Vanorio, is the director of Fox Run Environmental Education Center and a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.