A pet struggling with a flea infestation is suffering, and the constant irritation is only the beginning. Some secondary issues include excessive itching, allergic dermatitis, hair loss, scabs, hot spots, anemia, and tapeworms.
Unfortunately, anyone who has ever dealt with an infestation understands how difficult it can be to get rid of those nasty pests. The best way to protect your pet is to address the issue before there is a parasite problem.
Check For Fleas
If you can see a flea on your pet, you already have a problem. Sometimes fleas are not visible, but black grains—similar to pepper—can be seen on the skin or in the coat. These white flea eggs and black flea feces may be your only clue that your pet has a problem.
If your pet is scratching or biting, examine the coat for evidence of these parasites. The itching is caused when the flea bites your pet’s skin to feed on the blood. You may even see fleas or their evidence on pet bedding or your furniture. Fleas are tiny but can jump a great distance, and they move through an animal’s coat rapidly. If you aren’t sure that fleas are a problem for your pet, consult your Upper Oakville Animal Hospital veterinarian for an accurate assessment and diagnosis.
Getting Rid Of Fleas
Flea treatments vary based on the type of pet, age, size, health, and lifestyle of the animal. Never use over-the-counter flea treatments without consulting your veterinarian, as some are ineffective or toxic to your pet. Prescription products are generally more effective and safer and are often quite reasonable in price. Consult your veterinarian for recommended treatment options and for future preventive guidelines.
When one pet has fleas, all the animals in the household must be treated. In addition, the entire environment must be treated to ensure complete elimination of the parasite. Thoroughly clean your house, including rugs, bedding, and upholstery, and discard vacuum bags immediately. You may need to use a spray or fogger, which requires temporary evacuation of the home. It may be important to treat your yard as well—concentrate on outdoor kennels and shady areas, and use an insecticide that kills flea larvae.
Today, there are many products available for flea control. The most typical treatment option is a topical liquid applied directly to the neck and back. Other products include shampoos, sprays, and powders. Some of these products kill both adult fleas and their eggs, but they vary in effectiveness. Never use products on cats that are intended for dogs, and vice versa. Also, consult your veterinarian before treating your rabbit for fleas.
What About Ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of host animals, from dogs to humans. They are most active in the spring and fall, living in tall brush or grass where they attach to their victims. These parasites prefer the head, neck, feet, and ear area but may be found anywhere on the body.
Some complications associated with ticks include blood loss, anemia, tick paralysis, and skin irritation or infection. Ticks also can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever—serious and potentially fatal diseases.
Dealing With Ticks
Check your pet regularly for ticks, even during colder months. If you find a tick on your pet, be careful—contact with the blood can infect your pet and you! Treat the area with alcohol, remove the tick carefully with tweezers, check the area for the next few days, and, if signs of swelling or discharge occur, contact your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can provide you with product options for preventing tick infestation.
Contact Upper Oakville Pet Hospital for guidance in flea and tick prevention.