The Parasite Predicament: What You Need to Know About Fleas and Ticks
Dealing with fleas and ticks is one of the downsides of pet ownership, but it is one that must be tackled head on. Fleas and ticks can cause significant problems for your pet and for their human family members. Learning about these pesky parasites – namely, what you can do to prevent them from coming into contact with your pet – is a critically important part of responsible pet ownership.
Fleas pack a powerful punch for being so tiny (an adult flea is about 1-2 mm in length). A female can lay up to 50 eggs in a day, which is why it only takes a few fleas on your pet to cause a full-blown infestation in your home.
Yes, they’re annoying and cause serious discomfort for your pet, but fleas can also pass on some pretty nasty pathogens, including Bartonella (cat-scratch fever), tapeworm, and even Bubonic plague.
Flea and tick medication is essential to keep these pests away from your pet. Bathing and brushing your pet regularly, and making sure their bedding and other items are laundered frequently, will also help to cut down on the chances of fleas completing their life cycle in your home.
By now, most people know that ticks can transmit Lyme disease, but many don’t realize that there are plenty of other dangerous diseases that a tick can give your pet. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis can all be passed to a pet via tick bite, and can have serious consequences if left untreated.
Besides a monthly flea and tick preventive, you can cut down on your pet’s exposure to ticks in the following ways:
- Keep your pet on a leash at all times while out walking or hiking, and make sure they do not wander into grassy, wooded, or overgrown areas where ticks like to hide.
- Check your pet for ticks each time they come indoors, and remove any you see promptly.
- Make your property less inviting to ticks by keeping it trimmed and weeded, and removing any leaf or brush piles.
- Wildlife often harbor ticks; don’t allow your pet to investigate live or dead wildlife. Keep wild animals away from your yard by storing garbage bins in the garage and pet food indoors. You can also use perimeter fencing.
Year-Round Protection Against Fleas and Ticks
Your pet’s best defense against fleas and ticks is their monthly preventive medication. Because these pests can survive the winter, and may even thrive indoors during cooler months, it’s best to provide your pet with protection year-round.