Flea and Tick Preventives
The most common flea is the Ctenocephalides Felix, more commonly known as the cat flea, though there are various
other types. This particular type of flea is capable of hosting on humans, cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, rats, mice,
guinea pigs, ferrets, and birds. These fleas rapidly reproduce and are capable of quickly infesting an entire
household with both humans and pets as their hosts. If one pet has fleas, all pets within the household must be
Fleas survive by ingesting the blood of their hosts. When they bite the host’s flesh, their saliva irritates the
skin, causing the host to itch which in turn, may cause an allergic reaction. To determine if your pet has fleas, comb
a section of hair on their back, towards a white piece of paper. If black flecks, resembling dirt, fall onto the
paper, gently drop a very small amount of water onto the paper. If the black flecks begin to turn a rust-colored red,
your pet has fleas. The rust hue is resultant of the blood being sucked out of your pet. If nothing comes off of your
pet when brushed, or if the black flecks remain black, your pet is healthy.
Household inhabitants with fleas may experience:
- Mild to severe scratching
- Open sores
- Pet owners experiencing flea bites
Treatment for fleas
If one pet in the household has fleas, all household inhabitants should be treated. Treatment can include either a
shampoo or a topical treatment. Shampoos will kill fleas for a few days, whereas topical creams or gels will kill
fleas for a few weeks. We recommend using topical treatments for a more thorough solution. If you would like
recommendations when choosing a flea preventative, contact our veterinary office, and we would be happy to assist you
in selecting a superior product for your pet.
Similar to numerous other parasites, mites exist in multiple forms. The ear mite is the most common type of mite
among cats and dogs and frequently causes feline ear disease. Most mites are barely visible, forcing veterinarians to
use a microscope to detect them on a pet and to determine the specific type. Most often, a pet contracts mites from
another pet or from another pet’s bedding. Some mites, including scabies, are contagious to humans, while others, such
as mange, are not.
Symptoms that a pet has mites:
- Crusty rash around ears
- Dark, waxy or crusty ear discharge
- Hair loss from excessive scratching
- Head shaking
- Large blood blisters around ears
- Patches of scaliness
Treatment for mites
After the veterinarian has determined the type of mite bothering your pet through a microscope evaluation, they will
determine the best form of treatment. Some mites can be treated with topical medications or oral medication; others
are best handled with a medicated bath or dip. Some types of mites cannot be cured, but with the appropriate
medication, the condition can be kept under control.
There is no question that pets are curious beings, often wandering into every shrub or bush they can squeeze through.
In certain geographical areas, this roaming can cause a pet to acquire ticks. More common in dogs than cats, ticks
attach themselves to a pet’s neck, ears, or skin folds. The bites can cause irritation, spread disease, and can
eventually cause anemia.
If you live in an area prone to tick infestation, be sure to periodically examine your pet after walks or after they
have roamed for long periods outside.
What do I do if my pet has a tick?
Promptly removing a tick upon discovering one is the easiest way to prevent disease transmission. To remove a tick,
carefully grip the tick with tweezers as close to the pet’s skin as possible. Firmly pull the tick away from the skin
while holding the tweezers tightly closed. After removing the tick, crush it, but avoid contact with the innards, as
they could be carrying disease. If you do not pull the tick off just right, the head can remain attached and will
continue to infect your pet, so it is critical that you remove the tick in its entirety.
During tick season, try using a tick preventative to reduce your pet’s chances of acquiring ticks, especially if
taking your pet through heavily infested areas when hiking or camping.
If you are unfamiliar with tick removal or feel unconfident removing your pet’s tick on your own, contact the
veterinarian, and they can remove the tick for you.