Fleas and ticks are something that no dog and cat owner wants to find living on their pet, as they can be difficult to get rid of and can cause discomfort and distress if they are not dealt with quickly. For every one flea you find on your cat, it is thought there are another 99 lurking nearby, and with a mature flea capable of laying up to 50 eggs each day, you can soon have an epidemic on your hands. Ticks, more usually associated with dogs after a run in the long grass, are less prolific but equally capable of causing your pet distress.
Identifying Fleas and Ticks on Your Pet
Fleas are very difficult to spot but they can cause your pet to scratch and bite its own skin to try to alleviate itching and to groom excessively. If left undetected, they can lead to allergies and hair loss, so if your pet is showing abnormal behavior, you should look out for the telltale signs that fleas leave behind, and that is little black specks which when crushed leave a red stain – flea faeces.
It is very unusual for you to be able to see a tick. It is more likely you will find a lump on your pet’s skin when you are stroking it. If you part the fur, you will find a tick busy sucking your pet’s blood, engorging itself. They can vary in color and size, from pale to dark green and from a fingernail size down to a pinhead.
Treating Fleas and Ticks
If your pet does have fleas or ticks, it is very important to get the right treatment straight away, and there are three main courses of action that you can take.
Flea collars – these are designed to repel fleas and can last for several months.
Oral – these treatments usually come in the form of a pill. The pill dissolves and enters the bloodstream, killing the flea or tick when it bites the animal. Cats can be notoriously difficult to administer pills to, and so the third option may be easier for a feisty feline.
Spot-on – this topical tick and flea treatment usually comes in a liquid form applied directly to the skin of the animal. It will kill fleas and ticks and the larvae and eggs of a flea and will last for about one month. There is a range of spot-on treatments, such as those available at http://www.farmandpet.co.uk/blog/controlling-fleas-and-ticks/.
If you find a tick attached to your dog or cat, it must be removed very carefully to ensure that the tick’s blood-sucking probe is not left in the skin, which can lead to infection. You should not try to remove it with your fingers – use a specially designed tool called a tick twister, which you can get from your veterinary surgery or pet store. If you are not able to remove the tick, ask your vet to do it for you.
Take Preventive Steps
One of the best ways of preventing a flea infestation is to keep your pet beds clean. Regular washing of beds and blankets is a great way of stopping fleas, as is vacuuming regularly to eliminate all the dirt that your pet inevitably brings into the house.
Establishing a regular grooming regime with your pet will allow you to spot a problem before it escalates, and this will help maintain the bond you have with your animals. And remember that it’s not just dogs and cats that can get ticks and fleas: other furry friends can fall prey too, so make sure all your animals are given a regular health check.