Did you recently notice your pet constantly scratching? It may be because of ticks and fleas! These two are the most common parasites that can generally affect your furry friend. Knowing the basic things about ticks and fleas is really important to ensure your pet is healthy. Not just that, you can also protect your family and home from getting infested by these parasites.
Although ticks and fleas are common, many pet owners still have little to no knowledge about them. Well, fret not! It can be prevented so your pet won’t be at risk.
In fighting ticks and fleas, knowledge is power! To start, these two parasites generally come from the environment. Typically, cats or dogs may get them outside after their playtime or from their playmates. Then, they may carry these parasites inside your home.
Here’s what you need to know about ticks
Compared to fleas, ticks are much easier to spot because of their size, but, of course, they are still tiny creatures that can cause serious health consequences for your furry pet.
What are ticks?
Ticks are usually found in grassy or wooded areas where your dogs or cats love to play around. They are arachnids that belong to the same family as spiders. This parasite does not fly or jump, but it will always find the opportunity to be near cats and dogs to feed on their blood as their host.
During their life cycle, ticks mature in four (4) stages: first, the egg, then the larva emerges and becomes a pupa and, finally, turns into an adult flea. Ticks climb on the animal to feed and drop to the ground to mature into the next stage.
Furthermore, some types of ticks can cause paralysis through their neurotoxin in saliva. Paralysis can be rare, but if it does occur, it could directly affect your pet’s diaphragm, making it impossible for them to breathe and can be life-threatening.
Serious diseases from ticks
There is a range of various serious diseases that ticks may carry, such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis. These all can cause significant consequences for the health of your pet.
How can ticks pass serious diseases? They can be passed down to your pets after several hours of ticks feeding from their hosts. Naturally, ticks prefer to enjoy their meal slowly, which is contrary to the myth that they just need a quick feed. They also usually stay attached for 72 hours or more to their host. So, this means that the sooner you remove a tick, the less likely it will infect your pet with some fatal diseases.
Speaking of removing a tick, it is incredibly easy, too! But being careful is still advisable when doing this. When you twist or crush the tick from your pet’s body, it may spill infected blood onto your pet’s skin or, worse, onto yours, too, causing both of you to be at risk.
Here’s what you need to know about fleas
As mentioned, fleas are smaller than ticks; they are wingless creatures that can be almost impossible to see with the naked eye. Not to mention that they have immense jumping skills as well, making it easier for them to transfer from host to host.
What are fleas?
Fleas are very quick to populate, so beware! It happens because the average female flea can potentially lay between 20 and 50 eggs every day. Meanwhile, the flea eggs can turn into adults only for about 21 days or less if the conditions are right. By then, they can reproduce by themselves.
As they are small, you may find it hard to tell if your pet has a flea problem. To visualise it further, they are quite small, dark dots that will be buried in your pet’s fur. Moreover, you can’t spot fleas, but you can look for flea dirt or flea feces. This seems like a speck of regular dirt but can turn red when wet.
Are fleas itchy for your pets?
Yes, in fact, it is the most common symptom of having fleas. This also includes persistent scratching, soreness of your pet’s skin, swelling, open wounds, and allergy symptoms. It becomes itchy because fleas’ saliva contains toxins that many other animals are hypersensitive to. Similar to ticks, fleas also carry serious diseases like typhus and tapeworms.
How to prevent ticks and fleas from getting into your pets?
After all the information you read about ticks and fleas, here is the good news, it is preventable! There are a variety of preventive ways and methods you can do to stop these parasites from coming after your pets, such as topical spot-on products to oral medications. You can get these medications from your pet’s veterinarian when you consult with them, and they will most likely recommend treatments, depending on your pet’s size and breed.
However, you should take note that the majority of preventatives are only effective for a certain period of time before another dose is required. Hence, it is essential that you set reminders to be sure that you are not late or skipping them.
Another notable thing about ticks and fleas is that they are notoriously difficult to shake. You may need to treat both your pet and your home when you see them around. You can start by checking in the tiniest of spaces of your home, like in between floorboards, under couches, and buried between carpet fibers, as most of the time, flea eggs and larvae lurk on these spots.
When you see that your pets have any of these parasites, you should act immediately. During this time, ticks and fleas may be living not only in your pet’s body but in your home as well! Using a vacuum every day is recommended to eradicate ticks and fleas inside your home. It may take several months to completely clear your home from ticks and fleas, depending on the population around your home or pets.