Vet Blog

How to Protect Your Pet Against Fleas and Ticks

September 21, 2018

Many people mistakenly believe that fleas and ticks are par for the course when owning a pet like a dog or cat, but although they are extremely common, there are most definitely ways that you can protect your pet from ever being bitten by either of these problematic parasites.

The importance of protecting your pet from fleas

Fleas are the most common type of parasite affecting animals in the U.S. and they will also bite and feed off of humans that they come into contact with. They are virtually microscopic, dark-colored creatures that have immense jumping capabilities, making it easy for them to move from host to host. When a flea bites into your pet's body, its saliva contains an irritant that will cause your furbaby to suffer from extreme itching. It is this saliva that causes itching and scratching to be the most well-known symptoms of a flea infestation. In addition to this, fleas can also carry diseases and even other parasitic infections, including tapeworms.

Since fleas reproduce very quickly, it is crucial that you deal with a flea problem as soon as you notice it. Better yet - use the right preventative medication and you can protect your furbaby entirely!

The importance of protecting your pet from ticks

Ticks are parasites too, but they aren't quite as widespread as fleas as they tend to have a slightly more geographical restriction. Some states will find that ticks are a big problem, while pets in others might never be affected.

Ticks can vary slightly in color and shape, but all will grow as they feed and fill up with blood. Some varieties of tick have saliva that contains a toxin that can cause partial or even full paralysis of your pet - a problem that, if it affects her respiratory system, could be deadly. Ticks are also well known for their disease-spreading capabilities, transmitting Lyme disease, rocky mountain spotted fever (RMSF) and ehrlichiosis amongst others. Some of these conditions are zoonotic, meaning that they can be passed from animal to human. Fortunately, it is just as possible to protect your pet from ticks as it is fleas.

How to protect your pet against fleas and ticks

Not only are there plenty of options available when it comes to flea and tick preventatives, but many of the chemicals used to target these parasites have been combined, meaning that there are some single solutions can protect your pet against both of them.

Some of the types of preventative that are currently available include:

  • Oral medications which are usually tablets or capsules taken in food.
  • Spot-on treatments which are placed on the back of her neck.
  • Collars that emit flea/tick repelling and killing chemicals.
  • Sprays/topical treatments.

Exactly which is best for your pet will depend on a variety of factors including her species, her age, her weight and how well she will tolerate each preventative. Some animals will simply not get on with using oral medications no matter how hard you try, while others will not tolerate wearing a flea collar. It is also important to take into account that each preventative is only effective for a set amount of time, after which it should be renewed - this could mean taking another dose of medication, applying another spot-on treatment or changing for another collar. Make sure that you strictly follow the schedule for renewing your pet's protection or you could leave her vulnerable to these pesky parasites.

As well as protecting your pet herself, you can also buy a range of different products to repel fleas and ticks from your property and back yard. Again, make sure you choose a product that is adequate strength for the size of your home, and follow the instructions carefully. Keeping your home clean and vacuuming daily is also vital to combat a potential flea infestation.

For more assistance regarding protecting your pet from fleas and ticks, please don't hesitate to contact our experienced veterinary team in Columbus, North Carolina for more information.