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Keep Your Dogs and Cats Safe From Fleas and Ticks

May 17, 2019

Fleas and ticks are parasites that can make our pets miserable and in some cases, cause serious illness or death in both pets and people. Fortunately, these parasites are external and can be prevented with an array of safe, effective, and easy-to-use products. A severe flea and tick infestation may also require treatment of your home and yard. Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is a severe allergic reaction to flea bites that some pets have. Extreme scratching and chewing can lead to secondary bacterial and fungal infections. A severe flea infestation can leave young, sick, or old pets weakened from the loss of blood. Fleas can transit certain parasite and bacteria that are responsible for diseases like cat scratch fever. Ticks are more related to spiders and scorpions. Their bites can be irritating, but the real concern for ticks is the transmission of diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. These diseases can cause death in both pets and humans.

Flea Prevention for Dogs

There are plenty of products to get rid of fleas on dogs and prevent them from returning. They range from powders to carpet sprays and room foggers for indoors. There are lawn treatments with insect control outdoors. Both oral and topical flea prevention treatments are available for dogs. They are based on the dog's age and weight. Some may not be recommended for use on puppies younger than eight weeks. Veterinarians sometimes recommend more than one product to break the flea life cycle. A good bath can help control fleas on your dog. The lather from the shampoo will eliminate many of the fleas. Wash all dog bedding and plush toys. Keep carpets vacuumed. Follow up with monthly flea prevention treatments for your dog.

Flea Prevention for Cats

As with dogs, fleas are more than a nuisance. They can also cause health issues in cats. If you have both cats and dogs, all pets must be treated, but never use dog products on cats. Flea treatments for cats include topical solutions, sprays, collars, and oral medications. Many flea collars will be good for a long period of time. Some flea collars for cats last up to eight months. Flea sprays should be used directly on the cat. Spray it on a washcloth to use on the cat's face and head. Wash your cat's bedding and vacuum frequently.

Tick Prevention for Dogs

Since ticks can cause diseases in dogs and humans, it's important to control them. They are hard to dislodge, and leaving part of the tick embedded in the skin can still cause illness. Always use tweezers to remove ticks. Check your dog for ticks often, especially after walks in the woods. Medications effective in repelling these parasites include spot-on treatments, tick collars, shampoos, and dips. Oral medications and spot-on treatments usually prevent both fleas and ticks. Tick collars are mainly effective for ticks on the head and neck. Shampoos have to be used every two weeks. Tick dips contain strong chemicals and shouldn't be used on puppies and nursing females. Many prefer oral treatments to ensure young children and cats don't come in contact with the tick prevention topicals.

Tick Prevention for Cats

Even cats who never go outside must be monitored for ticks. They can be brought inside by people and dogs in the household that go outdoors. Ticks can cause viral and bacterial infections, anemia, and Lyme disease in cats. These diseases in cats cause fever, poor appetite, and a low platelet count. Spot-on treatments are available for cats that control both ticks and fleas. Oral preventatives for cats aren't as readily available for cats as they are for dogs. They may be the same pills as for small dogs. Seek a veterinarian' advice before using them. Shampoos for ticks on cats may not be practical since most cats tend to shun baths. If you use a tick powder or spray on cats, keep them away from the cat's face. Tick dips should only be applied with a cloth or sponge.