Vet Blog

Guide to Flea and Tick Season

May 30, 2019

Fleas and ticks are often considered to be a part of pet ownership.

Granted, almost all animals will experience one or both if they aren't adequately protected, but it doesn't have to be this way. With flea and tick season upon us, it is essential to understand when your pet is at risk and why it is important to protect him from the effects that fleas and ticks can have on his health and wellbeing.

What Is Flea and Tick Season?

Although fleas and ticks present a threat to animals all year round, like many of us, they prefer warmer temperatures, humidity, and moisture. For this reason, they become most active during the spring and summer here in Warrior.

Irrespective of your pet's risk, experts everywhere agree that the best way to keep your pet safe from both of these parasites is to ensure that they receive year-round preventative treatment.

Why Is It Important to Keep Pets Safe from Fleas?

There are a number of reasons why it is in your (and your pet's) best interests to keep fleas at bay all year round. These include:

Fleas make life miserable for your pet. Fleas cause itching in all animals, but if your furbaby suffers from flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), the effects your pet will experience will be off the scale. A single flea bite in a pet with FAD can be enough to cause unbearable itching and many pets accidentally damage their skin, causing infections and other problems as a result of aggressive scratching.

Fleas carry diseases. Many people don't realize that fleas can actually act as intermittent hosts for a number of diseases including cat scratches, typhus, and tapeworms, all of which have their own consequences for your pet's health.

Fleas can affect humans too. Although given the choice, any fleas living in your home will choose your pet for their next meal, they aren't fussy creatures and you can expect to receive flea bites too. These will also be seriously itchy for you and your family and could become infected if you scratch too hard.

Fleas can be difficult to get rid of. Fleas have a reputation for being difficult to treat. This is because you need to destroy them at every stage of their lifecycle and since they are microscopic and can lurk under furniture, in the living room rug, or in the floorboard cracks, it can be tricky to ensure that you get them all, making flea treatment a lengthy and sometimes frustrating process. Since their reproductive rate is off the chart, catching and treating an infestation early is essential.

Why Is It Important to Keep Pets Safe from Ticks?

There are also a few important reasons why you should prioritize preventative care for your tick this and every season. However, one is more important than any other.

Ticks carry diseases too. Ticks are fairly well-known for their disease-carrying skills. Unfortunately, since it is impossible to tell if a tick is carrying an infectious disease by looking at it, vets recommend that you protect your pet against all varieties of the parasite. Some of the diseases that ticks carry including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Hepatozoonosis. These can have lasting consequences for your pet's health.

Ticks can cause paralysis. Although fairly rare, there is a condition known as tick paralysis that occurs when a neurotoxin present in the saliva of some varieties of tick causes the central nervous system of your pet to slowly shut down. Paralysis starts in the lower extremities but can spread upwards. If it affects the diaphragm or heart, it can put your pet's life at risk.

Protecting Your Pet from Fleas and Ticks

Fortunately, protecting your pet from fleas and ticks has never been easier. There are countless products that are capable of repelling one or both of these parasites. In cases where prevention is combined into one treatment, you can potentially save yourself time and money.

Preventatives tend to be split into several different categories. These are:

Oral medications. A chewable pill that is taken approximately once every 30 days can be taken on its own or hidden in your pet's food.

Spot-on treatment. This is a chemical that is placed onto the skin at the back of your pet's neck so that he can't lick it off. Again, most spot-on treatments will work for around 30 days before another dose must be administered.

Vaccinations. If you live in an area where ticks are particularly prevalent, your vet may recommend that your pet receives a vaccination that can repel ticks for up to 6 months at a time.

Home repellents. There are a variety of products that you can buy that will help repel fleas and ticks from your property. These include sprays and cleansing lotions. You can also consider using natural substances to help deter parasites from your homes such as using baking soda or salt in carpets when vacuuming or purchasing flea-repelling plants such as lavender, Penny Royal and Chrysanthemums.

Don't let your pet suffer this flea and tick season. Contact our team today to find out more about the best way to protect your furbaby. Call Stewart Animal Clinic in Warrior, AL to schedule an appointment by calling (205) 647-8140.