Fleas and Ticks on Your Pet: What You Should Do
Your dog or cat seems to be spending more time itching and scratching than napping. Upon closer inspection you see a bug.
Is it a flea or is it a tick?
These pesky parasites love to feed on our cat and dog friends and once they are in our homes they come after us. Some fleas and ticks carry worms or diseases; ticks are especially dangerous because they can spread Lyme disease which can harm pets and humans.
Fleas can enter and infest your home even if your pet friend is strictly or mostly an indoor animal. They can jump on in from your yard, hitch a ride on us, infiltrate from an adjoining home structure or be left over from a previous homeowner. To check your animal for fleas, part their fur (good places to check are under the collar on the back of the neck or near the ears) and look for small, fast moving or jumping dark brown spots, brown dust, which is digested blood from flea excrement and skin irritations from the flea bites and scratching. You should also buy a special flea comb from your local pet supply store. Once you have confirmed that fleas are present, you need to begin treating your pet and your home right away. The following are tips on what you should do if you find these pests on your pet.
BATHE YOUR PET.
Giving your pet a bath with a pH balanced flea killing shampoo is only the first step to getting rid of fleas. Fleas love dry skin so be sure to get one with natural ingredients because chemicals will irritate the skin and can also be painful if they have any skin irritations already. After you bathe your pet, you need to make sure your carpets, furniture and any pet bedding is thoroughly washed, vacuumed, and treated.
A WORD ON FLEA SHAMPOO
There is really no one way that works best for everyone dealing with fleas. Usually a combination of treatments works best. Some people use powders, sprays or foggers but these can be toxic. There are many natural home remedies that work for some people too.
The thing to really keep in mind with fleas is that their lifecycle takes 3-6 weeks so you will need to be persistent with whatever treatment course you choose. Vacuuming carpets, furniture and bedding frequently and changing the vacuum bag often so the fleas don't re-infest your home are necessary.
Ticks are small and round. They cling to one spot and don't move. They burrow their head under the skin and engorge themselves on blood. Ticks remain outdoors so they won't infest your home like fleas will, however, ticks are harder to find and can be more dangerous because they can carry several different types of diseases, such as Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and East Coast Fever to name just a few. You should always have yourself or your pet checked for these diseases after you remove a tick.Ticks can also cause anemia due to blood loss.
If you find a tick, use tweezers to pick up the body. Slowly and gently pull the tick so the mouthparts release. If you see a small crater or pit after you pull it out, then you have most likely fully removed the tick. If black lines remain, the head is still in and you need to either try to pick it out or go to see a doctor or veterinarian. Leaving pieces of the head in the skin can lead to infection, to be sure to remove all remnants. Mouthpieces are barbed, not spiraled, so twisting them out is not to your advantage. To dispose of a tick, drop it in a cup of alcohol to kill it. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling a tick.
If you live in a heavily infested area you should spray your yard to protect against ticks. Check yourself and pets regularly if you spend a lot of time outdoors. Comb your pet's hair or fur with a wide tooth flea comb so you can rid them of unattached ticks. They do not attach immediately since they crawl around looking for just the right spot. Newly attached ticks are also easier to remove than ones that have been feeding for a longer period of time.
Fleas and ticks are more than a nuisance. They can carry parasites and other diseases that can be harmful to humans and pets.
Their lifecycles can last days or weeks and fleas can infest your home for months. Chemical flea and tick shampoo can be harsh on your pet and dry out their skin making them an easier target for new fleas, but an all natural product on the market like Defendex is an pH balanced shampoo that will wash away fleas and ticks and protect your pets for up to a week after use. It will also keep their coat shiny and healthy. Whatever flea and tick remedy you choose to use, be sure to be vigilant in your efforts because the fleas are going to be fighting.