Now that we’re in late spring, it’s time to be on the lookout for both fleas and ticks. While both are present in our area year-round, they are more active between March through June.

Fleas
Unfortunately, fleas are more than a nuisance for your pet as they present real health risks. Fleas can carry tapeworm which can impact your pet’s gastrointestinal and other internal systems. And because of their persistent biting as they feed off of your pet, fleas can cause an allergic reaction leading to dermatitis, redness, irritation and inflammation of your pet’s skin and ears. And their biting can also, indirectly, affect your pet’s eyes and nasal passages.

 

Pet Scratching
 

Fleas are “clever” in the sense they live in your pet’s environment, and only tend to be encountered on your pet for several hours daily when they feed. The best indication that your pet may have fleas is your pet’s persistent scratching or biting. Another indicator is the presence of hard, dark, sand-like granules of flea dirt or excrement that can often be found when brushing your pet.

Given their 30-day lifecycle from eggs to adults, fleas are difficult to eradicate. Eliminating fleas begins by cleaning your pet’s environment — including their bedding, floors where they tend to spend time, and outdoor areas. Purging the home of flea eggs, larvae, pupae and adult fleas often requires a thorough and repeat vacuuming of the entire home, flea-bombing the home and spraying outdoors.

 

Pet Bath and Flea Dip
 

After a thorough bath (often using a flea shampoo to also sooth the skin, Dawn dishwashing detergent which is able to dissolve the “waxy” exterior of an adult flea, or “flea dip” in extreme cases), we encourage the use of an oral or topical preventative. As different breeds can require different types of medications, please contact us to determine which may be the safest and most effective for your pet.

 

Ticks
Just like fleas that bite and feed off of your pet’s blood, ticks do the same. While ticks move more slowly, they also present real and substantial health risks (such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and other diseases) that can manifest themselves in joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, respiratory distress, dark urine and other symptoms. The underlying issue is that ticks may contain harmful microbes and pathogens that can be transmitted to your pet during the tick’s feeding process.

Also like fleas, a tick’s first contact is typically with your pet’s fur. But ticks then migrate toward the head, ears and neck of your pet — where the hair tends to be thinner and the blood flow is greater or closer to the surface. Once ready to feed, the tick grasps and cuts the skin to insert its feeding tube — excreting saliva with anesthetic properties to minimize detection by your pet. Ticks often feed for several days, growing substantially in size before retracting their feeding tubes, releasing their grip on your pet, and falling back into the environment.

Removing ticks must be done properly. Ideally, you would find ticks by brushing or carefully examining your pet after each outdoor excursion. It is much easier and safer to remove a tick that is walking on your pet’s fur or skin before they commence the feeding process. Note that, like with fleas, if you find one tick, there are likely more — so re-examine your pet carefully.

The graphic and steps below show you how to safely remove a tick. When removing ticks, always wear gloves and never squeeze the tick so blood-borne pathogens could be forced back into your pet.

 

Removal of Ticks
 

  1. Obtain a glass jar for the tick after removal
  2. Calm your pet and slide on latex gloves to protect yourself (never use your bare hands)
  3. Carefully push your pet’s hair aside and place the tweezer tips over the tick as close as possible to your pet’s skin — at the tick’s head
  4. Pull up slowly and gently — without jerking or twisting — until the tick is removed. Do not squeeze the body of the tick as it can force pathogens into your pet
  5. Place the tick in the glass jar and secure the lid
  6. While still wearing your gloves, carefully wash the bite area with soap and water
  7. Sterilize your tweezers with alcohol
  8. Remove and discard the gloves, and then wash your hands
  9. Monitor the removal location and your pet’s well-being — contacting us with any questions or concerns

We encourage you to call us if you have any questions, or if you prefer we remove the tick for you. It is best to remove ticks within 24 hours so any impact to your pet can be minimized.

Of course, it’s best to play with your pet in yards and parks with short grass. And as with fleas, an oral or topical treatment may be the best solution to help repel or minimize the likelihood you will have to remove ticks from your pet.

 

Pet Topical Treatment
 

 

Contact Us
Please contact us at (408) 374-5850 and we can discuss medicines and approaches that might be best to help protect your pet from fleas and ticks.

We look forward to seeing everyone again!