Defending Your Pets: Mastering Flea and Tick Prevention

Apr 30, 2024Blog Posting

A dog biting its rear, Defending Your Pets: Mastering Flea and Tick Prevention

It’s that time of the year to talk about fleas and ticks in Santa Clarita. While these pests exist in Santa Clarita year-round, the warmer months of spring and summer are the peak season for these pests. Flea and tick prevention methods ensure your pets live their happiest and healthiest lives. Read on, and we will empower you with the knowledge and strategies to protect your beloved animals from these common yet troublesome pests.

Life Cycle of Fleas

diagram of the life cycle of a flea

Fleas go through four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The eggs are laid on the host animal but quickly fall off and can be found in carpets, bedding, cracks in the flooring, and furniture. The larvae hatch from the eggs and feed on organic matter, such as flea feces and skin debris. They eventually spin a cocoon to form a pupa and emerge as adults, ready to jump onto a new host.

Flea Infestation on a Pet
Flea Infestation on a Pet

Life Cycle of Ticks

diagram of the life cycle of a tick

The life cycle of a tick also consists of four stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult, with each stage requiring a blood meal from a host to progress to the next.

tick on a pet
Tick on a pet

Common Signs of Flea and Tick Infestations

Watch for signs indicating fleas or ticks have infested your pet.

  • Excessive scratching, biting, or licking.
  • Mild to severe redness, irritated skin, or small bumps on your pet’s body.
  • Sometimes, you can see fleas or ticks crawling through a pet’s fur. 

You can find fleas anywhere on a pet’s body. However, fleas prefer areas where the pet cannot easily groom, such as the back of the neck, face, ears, and the base of the tail.

According to the AVMA, in dogs, ticks are most often found around the neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and body, and between the toes. However, they can be found anywhere on the body. Cats may have ticks on their neck or face.

Understanding the Vital Importance of Flea and Tick Prevention

Fleas and ticks are not just nuisances; they can pose serious health risks to pets.

  • Allergic reactions: Fleas can cause allergic reactions in animals, leading to excessive itching, hair loss, and skin infections.
  • Transmit diseases: Fleas can also transmit diseases such as Bartonella (cat scratch fever) and tapeworms.
  • Anemia: Fleas can cause anemia in cats and dogs, especially if the infestation is severe. Fleas feed on blood; when they infest an animal in large numbers, they can cause significant blood loss over time. Anemia can cause symptoms such as weakness, lethargy, and pale gums, and in severe cases, it can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Ticks can transmit a host of diseases, such as:

  • Lyme disease
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Coonhound Paralysis
  • Anaplasmosis

Flea and Tick Prevention Methods for Pets

Preventing fleas and ticks from infesting your pets is essential for their well-being. There are several methods you can use to protect your furry friends.

  • Topical Treatments
  • Oral Medication
  • Flea and Tick Collars

Choosing the Right Flea and Tick Prevention Products

With a wide range of flea and tick prevention products available, choosing the right one can seem complicated. You must consider factors such as your pet’s age, weight, and health condition as well as lifestyle when deciding. Some products may not be suitable for puppies, kittens, or elderly pets. It’s also crucial to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure the product’s effectiveness and safety. Also, there are some reports of fleas and ticks developing resistance to some over the counter (OTC) medications. It is essential to consult with one of our veterinarians at Cinema Veterinary Centre before making your choice. They can guide you on the most effective and appropriate treatments for your pet.

Tips for Maintaining a Flea and Tick-free Environment

Preventing fleas and ticks from infesting your pets goes beyond just treating them. Maintaining a flea and tick-free environment is equally important to prevent re-infestation.

  1. Groom your pets using a flea comb. You can learn from PetMD How to Use a Flea Comb on a Cat and How to Use a Flea Comb for Dogs.
  2. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum! Vacuuming helps control fleas and ticks by physically removing adult insects, disrupting their life cycle by eliminating eggs and larvae deep within carpets and upholstery, reducing suitable habitats for breeding, and capturing pests in vacuum bags or canisters.
  3. It is also essential to wash your pet’s bedding and any other fabric items they come into contact with.
  4. Keeping your outdoor areas well-maintained, such as mowing the lawn and removing debris, can reduce the chances of fleas and ticks thriving in your yard.
  5. Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
  6. If you find a tick on your pet, remove it right away.
  7. Flea traps, like the Victor Flea Trap, can help reduce flea infestations. They work by attracting fleas to a source of heat, usually a low-wattage light bulb that mimics the heat of a warm-blooded animal. However, they will not get rid of fleas on your pet.
  8. Diatomaceous earth is a natural substance made from fossilized diatoms (type of algae). It’s commonly used to kill fleas because it absorbs oils from their exoskeletons, leading to dehydration and death. Apply food-grade DE to flea-infested areas, let it sit for 12-48 hours, then vacuum thoroughly. Repeat as necessary but use caution around pets.

Removing Ticks from Your Pet’s Body

It is crucial to remove ticks correctly for several reasons:

  1. Incorrectly removing a tick can cause it to regurgitate its stomach contents into the wound, increasing the risk of disease transmission.
  2. Squeezing or twisting the tick can cause it to break apart, leaving parts of its mouthparts embedded in the skin. These left-behind mouth parts can lead to infection or localized reactions.
  3. Proper removal techniques minimize discomfort and trauma to the skin. Ticks can be firmly attached, and incorrect removal methods may cause pain or irritation.
  4. Some pets may be allergic to tick saliva or components of the tick’s body. Proper removal reduces the likelihood of allergic reactions.
  5. If you damage the skin during improper tick removal, it may become susceptible to secondary bacterial infections. Proper removal reduces this risk.

Please watch this video from PetMD on How to Remove a Tick from Your Pet. Just click on the picture below to watch.

Your Pet’s Defense Against Fleas and Ticks – Flea and Tick Prevention

As the pest season peaks in the warmer months of Santa Clarita, you must arm yourself with knowledge and strategies to defend your beloved pets against the persistent threat of fleas and ticks—contact Cinema Veterinary Centre to equip yourself with the most effective and appropriate treatments for your pet.

Warm regards,

Your Team at
Cinema Veterinary Centre

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