Flea and Tick Prevention 101

Mastiff in gardenFleas and ticks are one of the last things most of us want to think about, but these creepy-crawlies can pose some serious health risks to your pets. They’re more than just annoying—as it turns out, fleas, ticks, and the diseases they carry can be passed to the human members of the family as well.

Year-round flea and tick prevention is an important part of pet health and wellness care. Your partners in pet care at The Bluffs Pet Clinic are here to help you every step of the way as you learn about protecting your pets and family from fleas and ticks.

Fleas

While fleas are found in many places, one of the most likely sources in our area is rabbits. If you have rabbits in your yard or anywhere that your pet frequents, then they are at risk. One female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day, which can quickly lead to a full scale infestation. Fleas are easily passed from one pet to another, to household furnishings, and even to people.

Although we associate fleas with annoying itching, they can also cause some serious health concerns for pets and people. Some pets are severely allergic to flea saliva, resulting in an allergic skin reaction called dermatitis. Dermatitis causes severe itching and can lead to hot spots and skin infections.

In addition to dermatitis, fleas can also transmit tapeworm and certain bacterial diseases such as Bartonellosis (cat scratch fever) to both pets and humans. If the infestation is severe enough, it can also lead to anemia in your pet.

Ticks

Unlike fleas, ticks are not insects, but rather more closely related to spiders. Ticks tend to hide in grass and shrubs, waiting for a warm-blooded host to wander by. Ticks burrow their heads into their host animal’s skin and feed on the plentiful blood supply.

Ticks pose a much greater health risk to pets and humans because they are more likely to transmit serious diseases including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and tick borne encephalitis.

Year-Round Flea and Tick Prevention

Contrary to popular belief, flea and tick prevention is not a seasonal affair. Even here in Minnesota where the winters seem like they’ll never end, fleas and ticks can still affect our pets. In the winter, ticks hibernate in the trees and will come out as soon as the snow melts around the base of the trees. The warm, dry environments of our homes are the perfect climate for small critters like fleas and ticks to thrive. The constant influx of pets and people who travel from other climates causes a constant influx of external parasites, as well.

As with most health issues, prevention is always preferable to treating the effects of a flea infestation or tick bite. Fortunately, there are a variety of products on the market that provide pets with year-round protection. If your pet hasn’t yet started on a monthly flea and tick prevention regimen, please give us a call for more information.

Other Ways to Protect Your Pet

Along with preventive treatment, there are plenty of other ways you can help to keep your pets safe from external parasites:

  • Fleas and ticks often make their homes in tall grasses and weeds. Cutout their available habitat by keeping your yard trimmed and free of weeds and debris.
  • Inspect your pet from head to toe after he or she has been outside, and remove any ticks immediately.
  • Bathe and groom your pet on a regular basis.
  • Be sure to wash your pet’s bedding in hot water weekly, as it can be a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus, and parasites.

Your veterinarian should be your first line of defense against pet parasites. Please contact us with any questions or for more information. We are more than happy to address your questions and concerns regarding flea and tick prevention.