Let Radford Animal Hospital help you and your pets enjoy outdoor playtime without bringing home a flea and tick infestation! Radford Animal Hospital is here for pets and their owners in Radford, VA, providing thorough pet exams done by a caring veterinarian and staff.
How Do Pets Get Fleas and Ticks?
Fleas are tiny parasites less than 1/8th of an inch long. They feed on blood from their hosts, an animal like your dog or cat, in order to perpetuate their life cycle and lay eggs. Remaining on their host animal and continuing to feed, fleas reproduce rapidly. Ticks also feed on your pets’ blood, but are larger in size than fleas, especially once they have fed. They typically bite and remain in that spot for days of feeding.
Flea and tick populations run rampant throughout outdoor areas, lying in wait for hosts in grasses, leaves, trees, and dense forests. Pets come into contact with these parasites naturally through play and exploration outside. It doesn’t take much time for fleas or ticks to find their way to pets or to us, and their life cycles once they claim a host are alarmingly brief. Pets who spend all their time indoors can still be vulnerable to flea and tick infestation, particularly during warmer months when these pests really thrive.
What Are the Effects of Flea and Tick Infestation?
Both of these parasites cause itching and irritation to the skin and can transmit dangerous diseases. The skin irritation they cause can be even worse if your dog or cat happens to be allergic to flea and tick saliva, which mixes with your pet’s blood as the parasites feed. As a pet tries to address the problem with increased scratching, chewing, licking, and grooming, red and inflamed spots often form. Inevitably, your pet will swallow fleas while over-grooming to try to rid themselves of the annoyance, and ingesting fleas will begin the life cycle of tapeworms within their intestines.
Ticks can carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Tularemia, among others, which usually give your pets and you rashes in conjunction with various other symptoms like listlessness, aches, and fever. Diseases from ticks happen infrequently, but like other serious diseases may have devastating effects that make prevention worthwhile.
How Can My Veterinarian Help?
Fortunately, flea and tick prevention is fairly simple. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a topical or oral medication, usually taken monthly. These medications begin working quickly after application and stop these parasites’ life cycles. Fortunately, prevention of flea and tick infestation also means prevention of the diseases they can potentially cause too.