New Pet Owner

Does My Pet Really Need Flea & Tick Medication

Dog being Groomed

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.

"Ticks and mosquitoes are dangerous to the health of people as well as 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, they poop it out in the form of little brown flecks. Then they're in the mood to mate, after which time females lay eggs (one can produce as many as 2,000 in her lifetime) – and the cycle continues until you take action to interrupt it.

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 hair, check it for flat brown mites and little brown flecks. Scrape a couple of those spots onto a paper towel, add a few drops of water and smear them. If the result looks bloody, your furbaby has fleas.

Signs of a severe flea infestation include bumps, a rash, hair loss around the base of the tail and an unpleasant odor.

Talking About Ticks

Once cold weather breaks, it's as if ticks come out of hibernation and start feeding again. They lie in wait 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 through their saliva 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 anaesthetic so the victim doesn't feel it. Then it sucks the host's blood like a wino at an open bar.

Ticks have eight legs and initallly 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 and even paralyzed. And when ticks replicate in a home, it can become infested 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 also serve as a breeding ground for them.

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 the safest, newest and most effective treatments such as Bravecto, which delivers protection against fleas and ticks in a flavored dog chew for up to 12 weeks.