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The prevalence of fleas and ticks varies greatly across the county and therefore statewide-specific guidelines have been created. Fleas and ticks are more than just a nuisance and can cause a wide range of health issues, so be sure to protect your pet. Let’s first start with the basics in this article Flea and Tick Season 101: Here’s What You Need To Know!
What are fleas?
Fleas are tiny parasites that feed off of the blood of their hosts, i.e., your pet. Fleas live outdoors and prefer moist, shady and cool places. They especially like shrubs, leaves, and trees, and don’t fare well in sunny areas or open grass.
According to Merck Veterinary Manual, “There are more than 200 species of fleas affecting dogs. Fleas can transmit disease and cause tapeworm infections. Some dogs are very sensitive to flea bites and suffer from uncomfortable to serious allergic reactions. There are also a host of potential illnesses they can transmit to humans.
What are ticks?
Contrary to popular belief, ticks don’t need to live on their hosts. Hosts can include dogs, cats, rodents, birds, deer and unfortunately, humans as well. They are typically found outdoors, in wooded or grassy areas, where they attach to their host of choice and begin to feed.
Ticks can transmit a number of diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and ehrlichiosis. Ticks also cause skin wounds as they feed that may lead to bacterial infections and can also cause anemia.
When is flea and tick season in your state? The answer might surprise you!
As you might expect, fleas and ticks become most active during warmer months, but can begin as early as March depending on where you live. If you reside in a relatively warm state, flea and tick “season” could be a year-round threat to your pets.
According to AKC.org, you can refer to the map below to learn about the risks in your state. Look at how many states are in the year-round category!
When should I start flea and tick prevention?
Most flea and tick products are not safe to use on puppies and kittens until they’ve reached at least seven or eight weeks of age and an appropriate weight. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend a flea and tick preventative to use and advise you on when it’s safe to begin administering it to your pet.
Do I need to keep my dog on flea and tick prevention year round?
Yes! Most veterinarians recommend keeping your pets on flea and tick protection all year round. It’s common to hear people say “I don’t give my pet flea and tick prevention in the winter there is no need, since it is so cold”, but did you know that fleas can survive outdoors in temperatures as low as 33 degrees for as long as five days?
What is the best flea and tick preventative? Choosing a safe option…
When considering flea and tick prevention for kittens and puppies, your first step should be a visit to your veterinarian to discuss options that are right for your situation.
Because many insecticide-based treatments are unsafe for animals 8 weeks and younger, choose a non-chemical alternative, including flea combs, gentle shampoos and other grooming tools that are safe for your young pet.
Once your puppy or kitten is past the age and weight threshold, choose a parasite prevention program that’s best for her and stick with it throughout adulthood. Check the product’s label to make sure it’s formulated for use on your particular pet—including her species, age and weight. Also take a look at the active ingredients to be sure you’re targeting the right parasite.
Note that permethrin-based chemicals are only safe for dogs; they are TOXIC to cats of all ages. This is NOT to be confused with pyrethrins.
Always follow the label instructions on the product you are using—formulations and instructions can change without notice.
How Do I Know If My Pet Has Fleas?
If you notice your dog scratching, shaking her head, biting him or herself, and then scratching some more, you may wonder. Visually taking a close look at your dog’s skin, by using a flea comb or performing the white towel test are all it takes to know if your pet has fleas.
There are four steps to the treatment of a flea infestation:
- Kill the adult fleas already present on your dog
- Kill any newly-arriving adult fleas on your dog. Please note that this may take three or flour months to kill all the new adult fleas emerging from pupae in the household environment.
- Prevent further infestation of the home by using an insect growth regulator (IGR) to inhibit the hatching of viable flea eggs and prevent the development of larvae into adult fleas.
- Clear the home and the environment of flea eggs, larvae, and pupae that are already present.
Signs of a flea infestation in the home
After identifying fleas on your pet, you should perform a thorough inspection of your entire home. Vacuum all carpets and fabric curtains. Bedding and blankets should be washed in hot, soapy water and this also includes your pet’s living space including his or her bedding. Use an outdoor treatment for your yard.
Most pest control services offer flea control, so be sure to reach out to one if the situation seems beyond your control. They are incredibly knowledgeable and know what to look for.
Flea and tick shampoos, collars, etc.
There are a variety of flea and tick shampoos (and collars) on the market. Again, you should always consult with your veterinarian for help in choosing the safest option. Here are just a few from Amazon’s Best Seller List:
- Flea & Tick Collars
***AT THE TIME OF THIS WRITING, SERESTO BRAND COLLARS WERE IN THE PROCESS OF FACING A RECALL DUE TO POTENTIALLY RELATED PET DEATHS. PLEASE PURCHASE AN ALTERNATE BRAND, SUCH AS HARTZ, UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE!
Be sure to visit our related posts:
- Parasite Prevention in Dogs
- Parasite Prevention In Cats
- A Guide To Navigating The First Six Months With Your New Puppy
- A Guide To Navigating The First Six Months With Your New Kitten
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