iStock_000047785894_Large (2)Fleas and ticks (and other parasites) seem to be the bane of summertime fun. Our  pets are not exempt from the plague of blood-seeking disease carriers. From off-the-shelf-products to hiding in our homes, we may have tried every tactic to keep them at bay, but they still are a problem. And, now what!

To understand the ways fleas and ticks can become risky to the health of our pets, it’s important to explore effective ways to prevent them from ever posing a threat to our pet family members.

A Closer Look At Fleas and Ticks (But, Not Too Close)

So, you’ve noticed your best fur buddy has been scratching like crazy lately. Maybe you have even felt an itch around your ankles. You take a closer look at your pet’s fur and notice small black bits of debris here and there… Oh, no! Fleas.

Fleas affect both dogs and cats and can live on the skin for months, producing hundreds of thousands of offspring. These fleas feed on the blood of all warm-blooded animals, so once one pet in the home is infected, you can be sure all are.

Signs of flea infestation include:

  • Chronic scratching, chewing, or licking
  • Rash or inflamed skin
  • Hair loss
  • Pale skin or gums

Some of the health risks associated with fleas include anemia, tapeworm infection, skin allergies and conditions, and they have also been linked to a number of zoonotic vector-borne illnesses that can affect humans.

To prevent fleas from entering the home and yard, the Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital recommend a few different effective tactics. The first is to keep your pet on a preventive, which is often prescribed during the wellness exam. Since not all parasiticides have the same efficacy, we can help determine the best product for your pet.

In the home, especially if your pet has been treated for fleas, keep all carpets and upholstery regularly vacuumed, which picks up fleas and their eggs. Wash your pet’s bedding in hot water, along with blankets or any other fabrics he comes into contact with. Keeping your pet well-groomed also helps because the presence of fleas or reinfection will be easier to detect.

Ticks are another unwanted invader so common to the humid Midwest. Ticks carry several more serious diseases like ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and anaplasmosis. Ticks have become especially problematic in Illinois over the past few years, with cases of Lyme disease on the rise.

Fortunately, the parasiticide that is prescribed to keep your pet safe from fleas often is a combination formula that also prevent ticks.

As you know, the more time you spend outdoors, especially in thickly wooded areas, the more likely your chances of encountering ticks. It’s important to check your dog (or cat) for external parasites upon returning home or coming in from the outdoors. The longer a tick remains attached, the greater the risk of problems.

If you find a tick, remember to remove it by getting as close to the head or skin of your pet, and pulling up and away from the body without twisting or turning your wrist. And, keep an eye on the bite site for the next week, looking for a “bullseye” type of inflammation or redness.

Fleas and ticks, while frustrating to get rid of, are simply something pet owners must face. Yet, pets can easily be protected through preventive means to avoid the itch – and more importantly, the diseases and conditions these pests carry.

If you have any questions or need assistance with checking for fleas and ticks, please don’t hesitate to contact us.