The warmer the weather, the more fleas and ticks materialize, and these pesky critters bother more than just pets. Left untreated, they can cause serious illness and make your house unlivable.
“Fleas and ticks are dangerous to the health of pets,” says Dr. Jill Lopez, a veterinarian with Merck Animal Health. “For that reason, flea and tick protection is essential for all dogs and cats that live with you.”
No one is safe from fleas. These tiny vampires can hitch a ride indoors on your socks and shoes or jump directly from the outdoors onto your pet.
They burrow into your pet’s fur and feed on your pet’s blood. Undigested blood is excreted in the form of small dark brown drops that can be found in the skin and fur of your pet. Once fed, they mate. The females lay eggs, which drop off your pet into your house and yard.
Continuous scratching is the first sign of fleas on a dog or cat. Light-colored pets or pets without a lot of fur on their belly are easier to check. Look for very tiny flat brown insects and little brown flecks. Scrape a few of the brown specks onto a paper towel, add a few droplets of water and smudge them. You will know if your pet has fleas if you see red dots or smears on the paper towel.
Bumps, a rash, raw red wet areas, hair loss around the base of the tail, and unpleasant odor can be signs of a severe flea infestation. Talk to your veterinarian if you notice
Ticks hide in grass and then snag a ride on the closest warm human or animal. These bloodsuckers can transmit serious illnesses when they bite.
It’s not always obvious if you or your pet has been bitten. A tick spits out a local anesthetic once it latches on, so the victim does not feel the bite.
The number of legs on a tick depends on the stage of their life cycle; the larval stages have 6 legs. Ticks are miniscule, so they’re especially hard to locate on dogs with thick fur. Their bellies expand and become enlarged with blood as they feed.
Your veterinarian can demonstrate the best way to get rid of a tick. A dog with ticks can become anemic, and some ticks can cause serious illness while others can infest your home.
YEAR ROUND PROTECTION FOR YOUR PET
Ticks are active in more than just spring and summer. A heated home can serve as a warm breeding ground for fleas and some ticks. Wild outside animals in your yard can also keep ticks warm, so the problem of fleas and ticks is a year-round concern.
It’s vital to protect your pet year-round—even if your pet never leaves the house. People can inadvertently carry these pests into their home on their clothing or shoes.
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