Welcome to Part Two of our three part series on fleas and ticks. If you recall, in Part One, we discussed how to prepare for flea and tick season. We also talked about what, we, as pet owners can do to reduce the risk of a flea and tick infestation. Today, in Part Two, we will discuss what to do if you happen to spot fleas and ticks on your pet.
Later on, in Part Three of our series, we will talk about the ‘10 Best Things That We Can Do’ in order to get rid of fleas and ticks on the spot.
Let’s begin, however, by talking about things that pet owners need to know about both of these nasty parasites.
The fur on our pets is soft and warm which means it makes the perfect home for both fleas as well as ticks. These insects feed on our pet’s blood and they can both cause serious health issues that range from allergic reactions to more serious tick-borne illness. Fleas and ticks are common during the warmer months of the year but as pet owners we can eliminate them during the remainder of the year as well.
Warning Signs: Dogs
Signs of fleas on dogs include flea droppings that appear as dark specks in your dogs’ fur, or flea eggs which present themselves as white specks.
The best way to find fleas on your cat is to use a cat comb on your cat. A cat comb is nothing more fine-toothed comb that you can find at any drugstore.
Be sure to check for fleas around the neck of your cat as well as the base of his tail and his belly. You may see the fleas which look like little black specks that appear to be moving. You may also see their flea eggs as well.
Aside from warning signs, there are conditions that may affect your cat or dog if they happen to come into contact with fleas and ticks. These include:
When dogs and cats are infested with fleas they may lose up to 15 times their own weight in blood loss. When pets lose too much blood, they often become anemic. Puppies and kittens are especially at risk of developing anemia resulting in pale gums and a lack of energy.
The most common cause of skin disease in dogs and cats is fleas. When fleas bite they inject saliva into the skin of our pets’. This might trigger an allergic reaction. Signs of flea allergies include: Itching, hair loss, scabs and red, irritated skin. These signs of flea allergies may lead to skin infections in your pet.
Did we mention that humans can be affected by fleas as well?
Fleas enjoy human blood just as much as they enjoy pet blood. Fleas can jump from a pets’ fur or bedding onto our skin. Some people have bad reactions to fleas, including itching that may lead to a skin infection. Avoiding flea bites is easy when we keep our pets’ as well as our homes, flea free. For each flea you see on your pet, there may be as many as 100 more in your house.
You can feel ticks when you pet your dog or cat and you can see them as well. Ticks will most often attach themselves near the head, neck, ears or paws of your pet. On cats, ticks can usually be found around the ears and they eyes.
Ticks enjoy blood just as much as fleas do only when bitten by a tick, you risk coming down with a tick-borne illness. If you’ve been outside near tall grass or weeds or even in the woods, it’s best to check both you and your pet for ticks. If you spot a tick be sure to remove it right away or as soon as possible.
When removing a tick, skip the following remedies: Gasoline, nail polish, petroleum jelly, alcohol and even, hot matches. Using these methods often forces infected fluids back into the bite of the tick. Instead, its’ recommended that you do the following:
Use gloves or tissues to cover up your hands.
Be sure to grasp the tick with tweezers and do so from the side, by its’ head, as close to the skin as possible.
Don’t twist the tick as you remove it, be sure to pull it straight out.
Don’t disturb the bloated belly of the tick.
When you’ve done all of the above, be sure to was the bite area as well as your hands. If part of the mouth of the tick remains, it is all right, as this usually doesn’t result in serious health problems.
Pets get ticks from tall grass and shrubs. The ticks lie in waiting until a host passes by and then they jump from the grass or shrub, to the unsuspecting host. Ticks are hardy little pests that often go up to a year without feeding on a host.
Cats that spend time outdoors often pick up ticks this way as well. Ticks are most common in warm climates.
The Brown Dog Tick, also known as the kennel tick, is common across the United States because this tick thrives on an indoor environment. The adult tick is red/brown in color and it usually attaches itself to the ears or even between the toes of a dog. This type of tick rarely attaches itself to humans but it does carry serious diseases that affect dogs. These diseases include ehrlichisosis.
The Deer Tick feeds on many different types of mammals, including humans. The adults are also red and brown in color but these ticks are more likely to be found outdoors in wooded areas. This type of tick can easily spread Lyme Disease to both dogs and people. Lyme Disease is known to cause fever, joint pain and sometimes even serious kidney disease in dogs.
The American Dog Tick is one of the most common ticks and it’s known to attach itself as well as feed on both dogs and humans as well. The female American Dog Tick is easy to spot because she has a large silver spot on her head that swells to the size of a small grape after she feeds. These ticks spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever but only if they’re attached for at least 5 to 20 hours. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be fatal in both dogs and humans as well.
This is only a small portion of what we, as pet owners, need to know about fleas and ticks. For more information about fleas and ticks, be sure to visit pets.webmd.com.
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