It’s almost spring, which means the bugs are back! And not the nice bugs like bees and butterflies. I’m talking about the nasty ones – fleas and ticks, to be specific. People often assume that winter kills of the fleas and ticks. While that would be awesome, it’s unfortunately not the case. These parasites just go dormant in the wintertime. Once the ground temperature is above about 40 degrees, they wake up.
Everyone knows that fleas make animals scratch, but did you know that your animal can actually be allergic to flea bites? Some pets develop a condition called flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) and will chew and scratch themselves to the point of hair loss and skin infection.
One single flea bite can trigger this condition, and where there is one flea, there are hundreds. Don’t be fooled if you don’t see fleas on your animal. They are tiny and they are fast and they don’t actually live on your pet.
The majority of fleas are in the environment. They get in your carpet, under your furniture, etc. Flea bombs that are often purchased in stores rarely work because the chemicals in them go up and then straight down. They don’t actually get into all the little nooks and crannies where fleas hide.
Topical flea medications such as Hartz and Sergeants not only are ineffective, they can be toxic, especially on cats. Flea baths will kill the fleas that are on the pet at that moment, but as was mentioned, most fleas are in the environment and within a day your cats or dog will be infested again.
Ticks are back as well. Not only are tick bites painful, they can be dangerous. Ticks carry a variety of diseases, including Lyme disease, which can affect both dogs and humans.
While there is a vaccine for Lyme disease in dogs, the best protection is a good flea and tick prevention. There are finally some good, effective tick collars on the market, such as Seresto. The most common problem we see with the Seresto collar is that people don’t get them fitted properly. They must be snug in order to have enough skin contact to work. You should only be able to fit two fingers beneath the collar. If you can fit your whole hand under it, it is too loose and it will not work. To keep ticks from hitchhiking into your house, it’s a great idea to take a lint roller to both yourself and your dog after a walk.
You can purchase Seresto collars on Animal Care Sanctuary’s online pharmacy at www.animalcaresanctuary.org. If we have seen your pet for an annual exam in our clinic, you can also order other flea and tick preventions. If you prefer not to use something topically there are various chewable tablets available for flea and tick prevention.