With the weather warming up, pet parents are taking the opportunity to go on longer walks and spend time with their pets in the great outdoors. Unfortunately, more time outdoors means more opportunities for your pet to catch fleas and ticks. So, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants to remind you of the importance of keeping your pet safe from fleas and ticks during the warmer months with these helpful tips!
Fleas are the most common external parasite for our four-legged friends. They can live for as few as 13 days or as long as 12 months, and during their lifespan they can produce millions of offspring.
Symptoms of fleas, such as excessive scratching and hair loss, are similar between dogs and cats, but it is important to know what to look out for as fleas can cause health complications, like anemia and intestinal parasites.
Consult your veterinarian if you suspect your pet has fleas. Once your veterinarian confirms the diagnosis, a treatment plan may include:
- Topical or oral treatment or the use of shampoos, sprays and powders on the pet.
- Thorough cleaning of your house, including rugs, bedding and upholstery. Severe cases may require using a spray or a fogger, which requires temporary evacuation of the home.
- Lawn treatments may also be needed if your pet keeps getting re-infected every time they go outside.
- Patience—clearing fleas can take persistence and likely will not resolve overnight. Remember, it’s easier to prevent fleas than it is to treat them.
*It is very important to follow labeled recommendations or your veterinarians’ recommendations for using flea products. Going outside these recommendations may lead to serious issues.
Keeping the outside of your house free from organic debris like rake clippings and leaves could help prevent fleas since they like to hide in dark, moist and shady areas.
Use this list and consult with your veterinarian to pick the best options for flea protection for your pet.
Ticks are parasites that feed on blood and can plague our dogs and cats and may not be noticeable to us or our pets. Ticks tend to be most active in late spring and summer and are more prominent in warm climates and certain wooded areas of the Northeast, but species and disease transmission can vary based on where you live. They can be found living in tall brush or grass where they can attach themselves to dogs and outdoor cats or can be transferred from pets coming into the household from outdoors. Usually ticks will attach near the head, neck or ears, but can also be found anywhere on a pet’s body.
While these parasites don’t often cause obvious discomfort, you should regularly check your pet for ticks if you live in an area where they are common, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors.
Possible complications from a tick bite include:
- Blood Loss
- Tick paralysis
- Skin irritation or infection
- Lyme disease
Checking for Ticks
Run your hands carefully over your pet every time they come inside and pay close attention to the inside and exterior of the ears, as well as their head and feet.
If you do find a tick on your pet, it is vital to take proper care when removing it as any contact with the tick’s blood can potentially transmit infection to your pet or even to you. Follow these step-by-step instructions for a prompt and calm removal.
Pro tip: Consider mowing your lawn regularly, removing tall weeds, and making it inhospitable to rodents by keeping garbage covered and inaccessible. Also, talk to your vet about flea and tick prevention! Many of the same products that treat fleas will also kill ticks and prevent against future infestation.
If you think your pet has fleas or ticks or is showing any adverse reactions after receiving their flea and tick product, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.
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