As the resident greeter at Animal Clinic of Columbus, I have been meeting a LOT of pets with flea &/or tick problems lately. Unfortunately, the mild, wet winter has contributed to booming populations of both fleas and ticks. However, there are many things you can do to help keep your pets comfortable despite the explosion of pests!
Fleas LOVE cats. If you have any neighborhood cats roaming around, you will most likely encounter fleas at some point. Your best defense is a great offense. Start by making sure your cats and dogs are treated each month with a veterinary recommended flea preventative. There are many over the counter products out there, but not all products are created equally. For instance, some products sold at Walmart and other retailers are ONLY safe for DOGS, and if applied to cats can be toxic, causing muscle tremors, seizures and even death. Another common problem with over the counter flea preventatives is that they may kill the fleas initially, but the effect wears off well before it is OK to reapply them. All veterinary recommended products have been thoroughly researched, have well-documented modes of action against fleas, and we know how long they will last. There are several products to choose from: collars, oral medications, or topical applications. The good ol’ days of flea baths have gone by the wayside with the invention of these new, convenient, and more effective methods of control. In fact, most topical flea preventatives require the pet to have oil on the skin for the active ingredients to spread across the entire body, so bathing is not recommended within 2-3 days of application.
Fleas are not just pests that cause itchiness, they also carry tapeworms. When a dog or cat is chewing themselves in an attempt to scratch, they will inadvertently ingest a flea (or two or three), which is how they acquire tapeworms. Tapeworms are a “special” type of intestinal parasite, requiring a “special” type of dewormer to kill. Another thing about fleas – if you see even 1 flea in your house, there could be 10,000 eggs somewhere in your house. They live in cracks between wood and tile floors, and down in carpeting and rugs. It takes approximately 21 days for flea eggs to hatch, so you MUST treat your pet monthly to prevent an infestation. You must also treat the environment – foggers are available for your house and there are many yard sprays that you can use to treat a 10-15 foot perimeter. Foggers cover a set amount of square footage, so make sure you get enough to treat your entire house. Vacuum well after fogging to remove as many flea eggs from the environment as possible. Also be sure to remove pets from your house during the fogging process, ventilate well after fogging and treat pets with an approved preventative prior to bringing them back inside. You may also need to fog the area under your porch or under your house, especially if that is a common place for your pets to rest. Spraying your yard (at least a 10-15 ft perimeter around your house) every 3 weeks is recommended.
Ticks are also nasty creatures. They have long mouth parts that are barbed, like a fish hook, to help anchor them in the skin. They also secrete a cement-like substance to further secure the mouth part – EEEWWWWW! They have carbon dioxide sensors and will pounce on anything with a warm CO2 output – including you! They love to hide out in woods, tall grasses, wood piles and shrubs. To help ward off ticks, keep your lawn short, trim hedges and keep wood piles away from the house and your pets. There are tick collars, topical medications and oral medications designed to kill ticks before they can spread diseases. Pets can acquire diseases such as Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, and Lyme Disease from ticks. Ehrlichia is a disease we commonly see in dogs. Ehrlichia can cause anemia, low platelets, inappetance, lethargy, abnormal bleeding or bruising, and even death if left untreated. Lyme disease often causes chronic lameness and can even lead to kidney failure. Preventing ticks will help prevent these life-threatening diseases.
Many veterinary products are designed to kill both fleas and ticks. These products are designed to be administered to EVERY PET in the household on the SAME DAY EVERY MONTH. It is very important to treat your pets regularly, even if you don’t see fleas or ticks anymore – this is a great indication that the prevention is working. If you stop treating, you may be in for a nightmare infestation. It is best to keep a supply of preventative on hand. This time of year, many manufacturers are offering large rebates for bulk purchases and to top it off Animal Clinic of Columbus is offering $5 off Seresto Collars and $10 off any 6 month supply of Flea or Flea/Tick preventative! So come see us today – SAVE $$ and SAVE YOUR PET!!!! See our Facebook page for our Monthly Specials
Stay Happy, Stay Healthy