This summer, don’t let your guard down when it comes to fleas and ticks. The threat doesn’t end when spring does. You might not be going outdoors as often because of the heat, but your fur baby could still be at risk for fleas and ticks during walks, socializing at the local dog park, and on weekend hikes.
These wingless external parasites survive by feeding on blood. Fleas can live for several months and females can lay up to 50 eggs per day! Dogs often get fleas through contact with other animals, including their pals at the dog park or a squirrel they encountered during a hike. Since fleas can jump up to 2 feet, your dog doesn’t even have to have direct contact with the animal to get them.
Signs that your dog or cat may have fleas include excessive scratching, licking or biting at the skin, hair loss, or scabs. If you look closely at your pet’s back near the base of their tail and see black specks, wet a white paper towel and dab them. Put a few more drops of water on the black dots on the towel. If the towel turns red around them, it means those black dots are flea feces since they are made up of blood. If not, it’s likely just dirt.
If you suspect that your pet has fleas, you can contact Airvet to discuss them. Unfortunately, fleas lay eggs in carpet and bedding, so frequent house cleaning is an important part of solving the problem. There are newer prescription topical and oral treatments available from your in-person veterinarian, and some over-the-counter products are better than others.
Ticks are also external parasites that feed on blood, and they can transmit many diseases through their bite. Ticks’ activity levels vary by species and where you live, but it’s safe to assume that they could be active whenever temperatures are above freezing.
Ticks tend to live in brush and grass and attach themselves to dogs, outdoor cats, and even people as they pass by. Deer ticks are about the size of a pinhead, so they are easy to miss during bathing and grooming at home. Other ticks are about the size of a pencil eraser until they swell with blood. Ticks usually attach themselves close to your pet’s head, neck, ears, and feet but can be found anywhere on their body.
Checking your pet for ticks whenever they come in from outdoors is recommended. If you find a tick on your pet, it is possible to remove it yourself using gloves and tweezers. Remember not to crush a tick with your fingers since they can contain diseases that affect people too. Contact Airvet today to get the best tips on how to remove ticks and dispose of them.
Thankfully, many of the same products used to prevent fleas will also kill ticks and protect against future infestations. Make sure any product you use is correct for your pet’s species and size. Don’t let fear of these critters keep you from enjoying your summer!
To prevent flea and tick problems, you should:
- Use an oral or topical flea and tick preventive as directed by your veterinarian
- Bathe and brush your pet regularly
- Wash your pet’s bedding in hot water at least once a week
- Prevent their contact with wild and stray animals
- Mow your lawn regularly
- Keep the outside of your home free from organic materials like lawn clippings and leaves so insects have fewer places to hide