Flea and Tick Prevention
What are Fleas and Ticks?
Fleas and ticks are external parasites that can cause extreme discomfort and serious diseases for your pet.
Fleas are insects that can be found almost everywhere in the environment. There are more than 2,000 species of fleas, but the most common is the “cat flea” (Ctenocephalides felis) which effects both dogs and cats.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis is a common disease caused by fleas. This is a severe allergic reaction to flea bites causing severe itching and inflammation, excessive scratching/chewing, hair loss and if left untreated can cause a secondary bacterial or fungal skin infection from damage to the skin. Pets are usually very miserable and uncomfortable.
Fleas can also transmit parasites such as tapeworms, and cat scratch fever (bartonellosis) which can be transmitted to humans.
In old, ill, or young patients, severe infestations can lead to anemia (lack of blood) from constant feedings of the fleas which can make the patient very weak.
Fleas prefer warm, humid conditions so infestations are typically worse during mid to late summer and early fall. Fleas can survive indoors during the winter months so Herkimer Veterinary Associates recommends treating year-round.
Ticks are not insects, but are closely related to spiders, scorpions and mites. There are about 80 tick species in the U.S but only a few are of concern to pets and humans. Some of these include the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), and the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis).
Tick bites can be painful and irritating, but the real concern is the diseases that they can transmit. Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are most common and can cause significant illness and even death in pets.
Most ticks can be found any time of the year in every region of the United States. In general they do prefer dark, moist, brushy places to hide and lay eggs.
How do I know if my pet has Fleas/Ticks?
Most tick species can be seen or felt in the hair coat or attached to the skin. You may see them engorged after feeding. Deer ticks are very small and are harder to see than most other ticks.
Repetitive scratching is a major sign your pet may have fleas. Most life cycles cannot be seen on your pet, but adult fleas can be identified by running a flea comb over your pet or by finding flea dirt (flea feces) on the skin, in the hair, or on the comb. Placing this dirt onto a wet paper towel and squishing it can prove that it is flea dirt if the towel stains red/dark brown. Finally, excessive grooming can be a sign of a flea infestation.
How do I Prevent Fleas?
There are many easy to administer flea control products that are also safe and effective. These products can be Oral in tablet or liquid form, or they are topical in liquid or collar form. Some flea control products are only active against adult fleas whereas other products target more than one life stage of the flea.
Once an infestation is recognized, fleas can be very difficult to get rid of. You may need to treat your pet repeatedly and must also treat the environment in which the pet lives. Any other animals in the household should be treated as well. In extreme cases, the yard outside the home may have to be treated.
Special pet safe aerosol sprays are recommended when treating the inside of the home and must be allowed to dry for 2 hours prior to re-entry. After spraying, vacuuming rugs, throwing out pet beds, and washing all other pet linens is recommended to remove additional fleas.
How do I Prevent Ticks?
There are also many easy to administer tick control products which are safe and effective for pets. These products include Oral and Topical treatments.
Keeping your pets out of “tick habitats” such as heavily wooded areas or areas of tall grass can help prevent your pet from picking up ticks. Keeping your grass mown short and bushes cut back can also help. During the fall, leaf piles should be picked up as ticks like to live in dark, moist places. If necessary, you may need to treat your yard if heavy infestations persist.
Perform a “tick check” on your pet at least once daily to ensure they didn’t pick anything up while outside. If you find a tick, grasp it with a pair of tweezers or a “Tick Twister” (sold at the office) as close down to the mouth parts as possible. Apply a gentle pressure until the tick releases. Avoid using your fingers, lighters, matches, or other products that may irritate the skin or cause injury. When in doubt, please contact the office to schedule an appointment and one of our technicians will gladly remove the tick for you.
Never use flea/tick products recommended for dogs on cats. Some medications can be highly toxic to cats so only use the products on the species in which they are intended for.
Herkimer veterinary associates currently carries and recommends:
Dogs Flea & Tick:
Frontline Gold (topical liquid)
K9 Advantix (topical liquid)
Nexgard (oral chewable)
Dogs Flea ONLY:
Cat Flea & Tick:
Frontline Gold (topical liquid)
Cat Flea ONLY
Revolution (topical liquid)
Advantage Multi (topical liquid)
You can also review and purchase multiple other products on our website. (Bravecto, Simparica, Sentinel, etc) Just Click Here.