Life with Pets: Fleas, Ticks, and Healing Damaged Skin
Though the most common fleas are known as the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis), there are actually over 200 different species of fleas in the United States alone and over 900 different species of ticks located throughout the world! The most common ticks in the United States include:
- The American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis)
- The Brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus)
- The Deer tick or Blacklegged tick (lxodes scapularis)
- The Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum) and
- The Winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus)
There are many methods and treatments available for infestations of fleas and ticks, which will immediately aid in healing your pet's skin and preventing further damage. But first, do you know which problem you're dealing with?
Is it Fleas?
Fleas are small wingless insects, typically 2mm in length with long legs adapted for jumping. Fleas are designed to be laterally flattened, providing enhanced capabilities of movement through hair. The flea is also designed to have a well protected body and can withstand great amounts of pressure. The flea is particularly devoted to its eating routine, as one single flea is capable of biting your pet over 400 times in a period of 24 hours. The flea has specially adapted mouth parts, and is capable of consuming over twice its bodyweight in blood in a period of only 24 hours. Additionally, a single female flea can lay approximately one egg per hour and over 2,000 eggs within a lifetime.
Or is it Ticks?
Ticks are one type of external parasite, approximately 3mm in length with six legs, adapted for effectively gripping onto a host. The tick is also particularly devoted to its eating routine, as one single tick is capable of attaching to a host and feeding for days before dropping off the host. The reason that ticks are considered to be highly dangerous to both humans and animals is due to the fact that ticks are often carriers of more serious diseases. The most commonly known complication due to tick bites is Lyme disease. Interestingly, ticks are only second to the mosquito when it comes to being a vector for the transmission of certain diseases to humans.
Fleas and Ticks: Healing Skin Damage
Fleas and ticks are capable of causing damage to the skin both from bites and through secondary infections caused by scratching at them. Luckily, once the skin damage has occurred there are several ways to enhance overall healing naturally.
- Remove Fleas and Ticks: The first step is to make sure the infestation is completely eradicated. The healing process can not really begin if your pet still has fleas or ticks.
- Keep Your Pet Clean: Keep the affected area clean to prevent infections from occurring.
- Prevent Scratching: If your pet scratches at the area,they will only open the wound further, increasing the likelihood of infections. Do not allow your pet to scratch at bites. If they insist, you may find the remedies listed in "Natural Remedies for an Itchy Pet" helpful.
- Supplement with Healthy Fats: Fats are probably the most important dietary factor in the health of your pet's fur and skin. Most pet stores offer prepared supplements, but experts say you'll do just as well adding a tsp of sunflower oil and a tsp of olive or fish oil to their food.
It is important to look into all options for the treatment and removal of fleas and ticks with your veterinarian. As always, the best option is to prevent a flea and tick infestation from beginning in the first place.