Fleas and Ticks
PREVENTING FLEAS AND TICKS
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Fleas are among the most common health problems of dogs and cats. In the long run, it is much easier and more cost-effective to prevent fleas on your pets than to have to treat a major infestation of fleas in your house. Regular use of flea products will take care of the occasional flea your pets may encounter in the yard and should prevent you from having to spend large sums of money on foggers and exterminators. Treating a bad flea infestation in your house usually costs upwards of $150.
Fleas will bite your pets, causing an itchy allergic reaction, which can become quite severe. They carry viral and bacterial diseases. In small animals, especially kittens, the anemia they cause from feeding on the animal’s blood can be fatal. They also carry tapeworms. Tapeworm segments appear on the stool or around the rectal area and look like small grains of rice. If your dog has fleas, chances are good he has tapeworms – and vice versa. Therefore, if your dog has fleas, we will deworm your dog for tapeworms along with beginning flea control measures.
Wildlife, as well as other cats and dogs, bring fleas into your yard. Pets and people can then bring the fleas into the house. Birds nesting in the attic or mice seeking shelter can also bring fleas into your home. Fleas also travel on their own, as much as a mile an hour. They will hop inside through an open door or window and are often small enough to come through a window screen. Once inside your home there is no place a flea cannot get to. Adult fleas spend most of their time on your pet, but the remainder of the time they are roaming your house and laying eggs – thousands of them!
If you’ve never been lucky enough to see a flea, they are about 1/8 inch long, reddish brown and shaped like a sesame seed with legs. They are usually found on your pet’s head, belly or lower back. If you ripple the hair backwards and look at the skin they can be seen scurrying through the base of the hair coat. It is often difficult to find fleas on pets until they are infested heavily. This is especially true with dogs who are meticulous groomers. It is more common to see the droppings they leave behind after feeding. They look like grains of pepper. If you place some of these on white paper toweling, wet it and mush it around it will turn the toweling red. This is because flea droppings contain digested blood. Plain dirt stays black or gray when wet.
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Fleas can usually be prevented by treating all pets that go outdoors so they don’t bring reproducing fleas into the house. If you had fleas in previous years it is wise to spray some insecticide in the house as well, especially on the ground floor near doors and windows. This will kill the occasional flea that hops in on its own.
Many flea products sold in grocery and discount stores are wasting your time and money. Some are even harmful to pets. Most compounds strong enough to be effective are sold only through licensed veterinarians and exterminators, who are properly trained in their use, and are regulated by the state and the EPA. Insecticides should be used only according to label directions. Care is needed to ensure that toxicity does not develop due to the concurrent use of other drugs, pesticides or chemicals, or because the compound used was not safe for a particular age or type of animal. Some flea products used for dogs are deadly to cats.
READ LABELS CAREFULLY!!!
Most of our clients choose a long lasting topical flea control product (Vectra 3D, Frontline Plus or Revolution) to use on their pet to control fleas. These products are applied to a small area of skin and spread over the whole pet within 24 hours of application. These contain modern polymers enabling them to be effective for as long as 60 days. If your dog goes outdoors we recommend it be used monthly. Vectra 3D and Frontline are even effective if the dog becomes wet or is bathed. Because these products require the oils in the animals fur to spread, it is best to apply it several days prior to bathing your dog for maximum effect.
Many insecticidal flea collars available in stores are not very effective and often cause a painful irritation to the skin on the pet’s neck. Flea shampoos and soaps are great for cleaning your dog with fleas but they have no residual effect. They only kill fleas present on the pet at the time the bath is given. As soon as the animal dries off, fleas will hop right back on. For long-term control you need a product that safely stays in or on the body for days or weeks at a time.
VECTRA 3D: Kills fleas, flea eggs and larvae AND kills all stages of 4 different ticks including the deer tick. Also helps control chewing lice and sarcoptic mange. It is very water-resistant. Used once monthly.
REVOLUTION: Kills fleas and prevents flea eggs from hatching. Controls the brown dog tick and prevents heartworms. Used once monthly.
PREVENTIC COLLARS: Kills ticks — all kinds. Recommended to be used with Frontline Plus for dogs who frequent heavily tick infested areas. Good for 3 months.
Does not control fleas.
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Most flea products kill or repel ticks but ticks are tougher than fleas. They require higher levels of insecticides to kill them, so flea products usually have to be applied more often to control ticks.
The easiest longest lasting tick control is a product called the Preventic© collar. The Preventic© collar contains a different chemical than the ones in standard flea products, and it only kills ticks – it won’t work at all against fleas. It is compatible for use along with other flea control products, however. Unlike most collars, the active ingredient is in a form that spreads over your entire dog in the oils on his skin within 48 hours of applying the collar. It doesn’t repel ticks but it keeps them from attaching and kills them slowly in about 24 hours. We highly recommend these collars for outdoor or hunting dogs with high tick exposure.
If you are considering beginning a flea or tick control program for your pets, please consult with us. There are so many products on the market nowadays that it’s tough to decide which ones are right for you. We are more than happy to help!