Secret Life of Pests: Fleas & Ticks

Secret Life of Pests: Fleas & Ticks

Who Let The Fleas Out: Flea Infestations on Dogs
Excessive itching or scratching, redness and inflammation, flea dirt (small dark specs), hot spots, and pale gums can point you towards identifying if your dog has fleas. And don’t underestimate the power of regularly checking their skin & coat. You can find adult fleas latching on to their fur for a free ride, a sure indicator that your dog has fleas. Adult fleas may be visible on their fur, indicating a flea infestation.  

Those Doggone Ticks: Tick Infestations on Dogs
A convenient, yet disgusting truth is that adult ticks are often visible to the naked hoo-man eye. Unfortunately for those furrier, fluffier friends, the best way to inspect ticks is just by a thorough flea comb inspection.

Don’t Get Sick From Tick-Borne Diseases

Although the name “ticks” may not sound very intimidating, ticks should be taken seriously and with extreme caution. Ticks can transmit dangerous diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis, hepatozoonosis, and anaplasmosis. As a pet owner, you need to be able to quickly identify symptoms for any one of these diseases so you & your pet can remain tick-free & healthy.

Lyme Disease Symptoms in Dogs:

  • Depression
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Swollen joints or lameness
  • Loss of appetite

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Symptoms in Dogs:

  • Fever
  • Rashes

Hepatozoonosis Symptoms in Dogs

  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Poor body condition
  • Muscle pain, atrophy, and weakness
  • Bruising, joint pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

If you notice your dog begin to, or is suffering from, one of these symptoms take them over for a visit to your nearest vet for an immediate checkup.

You Know What’s Not the Cat’s Meow? Flea Infestations.
If you’ve never had a flea infestation, trust us, you don’t want one. Fleas can transmit Bartonella, which can cause cat scratch fever in humans. Yuck! Not only that, but fleas can be ingested by your cat licking their fur to which fleas then can develop and transmit tapeworm.

Kick the Tick: Tick Infestations on Cats
Like how ticks behave in dogs, in cats tick infestations can also cause the spread of dangerous diseases to both you and your cat. Act fast to stop ticks from transmitting serious diseases like hemobartonellosis, cytauxzoonosis, and even in rare cases, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis, hepatozoonosis, and anaplasmosis.  

Keep your eyes & ears out for these symptoms for tick-borne diseases in your cat:

Hemobartonellosis Symptoms in Cats (Life-threatening form of anemia)

  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite
  • Rapid open mouth breathing

Cytauxzoonosis Symptoms in Cats

  • Severe anemia
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Liver disease
  • Compromised breathing, which is usually fatal

Tularemia Symptoms in Cats

  • Fever
  • Lymph node enlargement
  • Abscesses

Any one of these diseases is dangerous to you & your cat. If you suspect your cat has any of these diseases, get them to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.

What Are Fleas? Don’t Eat When Reading.
In one quick bite, fleas can get your pet furiously scratching their skin. You may not know this, but the lateral on fleas is unmatched. Jumping up to seven inches vertically, fleas can hop on a pet to feed & lay their eggs. Another little known fact, in a single lifetime for female flea, they can lay up to 5,000 eggs. Not grossed out yet? Keep reading.

Fleas live their best life in warm, humid conditions and depending on those weather conditions, flea eggs only take three to five days to hatch. After hatching, they enter their larval stage, where fleas are so tiny, they are essentially invisible! In this stage, they feed on flea dirt and other organic debris found in their environment. Once fully fed, larvae spin cocoons to then enter the pupal stage.

Within 8 to 9 days, pupae hatch, but then remain dormant for up to 6 months. Once emerged from their cocoons, the flea has arrived in its final form – the adult flea, a lifecycle spanning anywhere from 16 days to 12 months.

What Are Ticks? Another Creepy, Crawly.
If you don’t like spiders, you definitely won’t like ticks – not that anyone does anyways. Ticks are parasites that belong to the arachnid family- aka the spider & mite family). Strategically hidden in wooded, grassy areas, ticks are able to attach themselves to pets walking by.

With their own objectives in mind, female ticks find hosts to feed, mate, and lay eggs upon, while the males generally occupy hosts for solely for mating purposes. After mating, a female tick can lay up to 1,000 eggs at one time on their host. Once hatched, they enter the larval stage and feed on their host - basically real-life vampires.

Feasting time is over and ticks are full. Now what? The ticks drop off their host, molt into their nymph phase, & begin looking for a new host. With the onset of adulthood, they lay in wait in grass or bushes, awaiting the perfect host. Like their flea counterparts, ticks thrive in warmer climates, generally requiring three hosts to complete a single lifecycle.

Are Fleas & Ticks Really That Dangerous?
Short Answer: Yes.

Don't let their size fool you. Fleas and ticks are incredibly dangerous to both you and your pet. To put it bluntly, fleas are ravenous little creatures. They can consume 15x their own body weight just with your pet's blood. And a severe infestation can cause your pet to become anemic! More often than not, pets have a sensitivity to flea saliva, and with just one bite, they can cause severe allergic reaction in your pet, causing painful and intense itching. Not to mention the diseases fleas can transmit outlined above.

The same concern for fleas should also be taken for ticks. Be warned, ticks too are very dangerous. Your pet can also begin to suffer from anemia if a female tick consumer more than 100x their body weight. Their bites may trigger allergic reactions, but the diseases they can transmit are even more dangerous.

See A Flea & Tick? Don’t Panic Protect!
If you see a flea or tick, don’t rush to the store to buy any ol’ flea & tick treatment. While urgency is required, you want to make sure you’re giving your pet the right protection they need (ie. do not use a dog product on a cat or a cat product on a dog).

To treat pests on your pet, use a dog or cat flea and tick shampoo or spray. This way the fleas and ticks you see are washed, sprayed, and killed away. Before use of any product, especially preventative flea & tick products, make sure to read and follow all instructions for proper application.

As for pests in your home, use a household flea and tick product in places your pet frequents. Vacuum the floors, clean upholstery, and wash any pet bedding in hot, soapy water. When you see a flea, there’s often a good chance that they will be in and around your environment as well. So deep cleans are vital to avoiding future infestations.

Protection & Prevention
Your pet is family. So, taking preventative action is imperative to avoiding any serious illness or severe discomfort from fleas & ticks. Utilizing flea and tick topicals, animal sprays, or powders is an easy and effective way to protect your pet all year long.

Don’t forget to read and then re-read the label from the product of your choice to see how long the preventive action will last. Formulas do vary from weeks to months depending on the product that you choose for your pet.

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