The Importance of Proper Flea and Tick Prevention

April 20, 2020 in Uncategorized

When fleas or ticks see your pet hanging out, they likely see dinner. Depending on what you're doing to protect your dog or cat from fleas and ticks, the pests might get invited to an all-they-can-eat buffet, or they might be turned away at the door. Since fleas and ticks can carry diseases that affect your pet's health and because they can spread from your pet to others, doing what you can to prevent them is essential. Forever Vets Animal Hospital offers veterinary services in Jacksonville, FL, to help you protect your pet. Learn more about the importance of flea and tick prevention and find out what you can do to help your pet at their next appointment.

Dog with fleas scratching

The Lowdown on Fleas

Fleas are tiny insects that feed on the blood of their hosts. Although there are more than 2,000 species of fleas, the one that is most likely to be a problem for pet owners and their pets is the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis. Despite its name, the cat flea will bite both dogs and cats. It will also bite humans if it has the chance.

For such small creatures, fleas can perform some pretty amazing feats. They don't fly, but they can jump up to 6 inches in the air to land on a host. Once they've found a host, such as a dog or cat, they'll eat the host's blood, consuming up to 15 times their body weight in a day.

Fleas really live up to their reputation as pests. They can cause your pet discomfort in the form of itching. If a pet scratches themselves to relieve the itch, they might end up losing hair. The skin can become red and irritated-looking. Since fleas can drink a lot of your pet's blood, anemia is a common side effect of a flea infestation. Pets with fleas might develop pale gums as a result of low iron levels.

Once a pet gets fleas, other pets in the household will likely get them. They can also jump to people. Fleas can also spread other parasites, such as tapeworm, to your pets.

Fleas tend to prefer warmer, humid weather, which makes Florida an ideal location for them. Although colder weather can offer some protection for your pet against fleas, if the fleas make their way indoors, they can still get on your pet. That's why an animal hospital in Jacksonville Beach is likely to recommend year-round flea prevention and protection for your pet.

The Trouble With Ticks

Like fleas, ticks are small creatures that feed on the blood of animals. While fleas are insects, ticks are arachnids, or tiny spiders. Also, like fleas, ticks thrive in warmer climates. Late spring and summer tend to be prime tick season.

Ticks can find their way to your cat or dog in a few ways. They often live on grasses and can jump onto a pet from a blade of grass. If you go hiking and get a tick, the tick can jump from your body over to your pet's.

Although your pet might feel a tick biting them, they might develop irritation at the site of the bite, or the bite can become infected. If the tick continues to feed on your pet, it can cause blood loss or anemia.

Ticks are also known to spread disease. Perhaps the most well-known tick-related disease is Lyme disease, which is usually transmitted by deer ticks. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria and may be treated with antibiotics. Lyme disease is more common in dogs than in cats and might cause inflammation in a dog's joints, making it difficult for them to walk.

Another disease associated with ticks, especially ticks in Florida, is cytauxzoonosis. The disease is caused by a protozoan parasite, Cytauxzoon felis, which is often spread from wild bobcats to ticks. When a tick bites a domestic cat, it can transmit the protozoa to the pet. Although bobcats can survive an infection of cytauxzoonosis, the disease is often fatal for domestic cats.

If you see a tick on your pet, call an emergency animal hospital to find out how to carefully remove it without harming your pet or yourself. The hospital might also recommend you bring your pet in for an examination.

Mosquitoes Are a Problem, Too

Ticks and fleas aren't the only pests that are bad news for pets. Mosquitoes can also irritate and infect pets. Minimizing exposure to them is essential to protect your pet from a range of diseases and parasites.

For example, mosquitoes are known to spread heartworm to both dogs and cats. They can also spread West Nile virus to pets, although the symptoms pets experience tend to be less severe than those experienced by people with West Nile.

While you might not need to bring your pet to an emergency animal hospital after a mosquito has bitten them, if the mosquito bite transmits heartworm to them, they might need emergency treatment later on.

Dog with fleas scratching

How to Protect Your Pet

Although you can often treat the damage caused by fleas, ticks, or mosquitoes in your pets, it's a lot easier to take steps to prevent them from sinking their teeth into your pet in the first place. Several preventative products are available for pets to protect them from these pests.

Preventative products are available in several forms. There are collars that your pet wears to keep fleas and ticks away, and there are shampoos you can use to wash your pet's fur. Among the most popular preventative measures are topical treatments, which are usually applied to your pet's back or between the shoulders. You only need to apply a few drops to your pet to get ample protection. Oral medicines are also available to protect your pet. Usually, the medicine is in the form of a chewable tablet. Once your pet ingests it, it kills any pests that are on the pet and keeps new pests from biting them.

The type of product you use depends on your pet and the size of the pet. For example, you wouldn't use a product made for dogs on a cat. A product designed for small dogs won't offer enough protection to larger breeds.

The vets at Forever Vets Animal Hospital in Florida understand the importance of keeping your pet healthy and protecting them from ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes. During your next visit to our animal hospital in Jacksonville, be sure to ask about tick and flea preventative treatments. We're happy to help you find the one that's right for your pet. Give us a call today to book your pet's next appointment.