Fleas & Ticks
Does My Pet Really Need Flea & Tick Medication?
When weather turns warmer, fleas and ticks emerge in greater numbers. And these pests are more than annoyances to pets. Untreated, they can lead to serious illness and make your house all but uninhabitable.
"Fleas and ticks are dangerous to the health of pets," says Dr. Jill Lopez, a veterinarian with Merck Animal Health. "For that reason, flea and tick protection is essential for all dogs and cats that live with you."
Facts About Fleas
Fleas are small insects that your pet can pick up just by taking a walk outside. Even indoor pets are susceptible, if a flea decides to hitch a ride on your socks and shoes.
These little vampires feed on blood, which makes dogs and cats as appealing to them as filet mignon. After they burrow into your pet's fur and have their fill of your pet's blood, they excrete undigested blood in the form of little dark brown flecks of flea dirt that can be found in your pets' skin and fur. Then they're in the mood to mate. The females lay eggs, which fall off your pet and into your home and yard.
The first sign of fleas on a dog or cat is persistent scratching. If you have a light-colored pet or one with a belly without a lot of fur, check it for very small flat brown insects and little brown flecks. Scrape a couple of those brown flecks onto a paper towel, add a few drops of water and smear them. If the result causes red dots or smears on the paper towel, your pet has fleas.
Signs of a severe flea infestation include bumps, a rash, raw red wet areas, hair loss around the base of the tail and an unpleasant odor.
Talking About Ticks
Ticks hang out in grass and then hitch a ride on the nearest warm body, either human or animal. Ticks are bloodsuckers like fleas and they can transmit serious diseases when they bite.
It's not easy to tell at first if a tick has bitten you or your pet. When one latches on, it spits out a local anesthetic so the victim doesn't feel it.
Ticks have eight legs and initially start off head-of-a-pin small, so they're particularly hard to find on dogs with thick fur. As they feed, their belly expands and becomes engorged with blood.
Your veterinarian can show you the best way to remove a tick. A dog overrun with ticks can become anemic. Ticks can cause serious disease and some specific tick species can cause paralysis and others can infest your home with thousands of them.
Protect Your Pet Year Round
Spring and summer aren't the only seasons when fleas and ticks are active. The warmth of a heated home can serve as a breeding ground for fleas and some types of ticks. Fleas and ticks can also stay warm on wild animals outside in your yard so the problem of fleas and ticks should be a year round concern.
So it's vital to use products year-round – even if your pet never leaves the house. Pet parents can actually be carriers by unwittingly bringing pests in on their clothing or shoes. From there, it's a short distance to your pet when she sits by your feet or jumps into your lap.
Your veterinarian can recommend the best year-round protection against fleas and ticks. Ask for safe and effective treatments such as:
See the range of products to combat fleas and ticks on your pet and in your home
*Bravecto kills fleas, prevents flea infestations, and kills ticks (black-legged tick, American dog tick, and brown dog tick) for 12 weeks. Bravecto also kills lone star ticks for 8 weeks.