Warmer months mean the onset of fleas and ticks on pets. These are the scourge of both furry and feline friends. Many people do not know that ticks and fleas are active throughout the entire year.
That is a lot of blood sucking parasites for one poor pet. These helpful tips will ensure that pets stay free of ticks and fleas year round. But, first it is important to understand how these parasites manifest themselves on animals so that you can help avoid them.
How Does a Tick and Flea Infestation begin?
Although, the terms fleas and ticks are used interchangeably by many pet owners, they are vastly different. A flea can jump really high to latch on to pets while ticks lie in wait for a host.
The lifecycle of a tick begins on the ground. Ticks cannot jump and hence climb onto the nearest vegetation waiting for a host. This is why dogs are more prone to a tick infestation during spring and summer when the ground is warm and the grass green. Once the tick has had its fill of feed, it drops off to lay eggs on the ground and the cycle begins again.
A flea on the other hand can jump onto any mammal that passes by. It latches on to a host to obtain essential nutrients that allows it to reproduce. The flea unlike a tick lays eggs on the pet’s body. These eventually drop to the ground when the eggs hatch. Larvae initially feed on organic matter till they pupate. The pupa gives rise to an adult flea that jumps on the nearest mammal to continue the life cycle.
How Does it Affect Pets?
Pets are hosts to fleas and ticks. These parasites essentially feed off the blood of a host. Proteins from a tick or a flea’s saliva are injected on the wound upon biting. This causes skin irritation on the pet’s skin. This can lead to a nagging allergy and even a nasty skin rash.
There are a number of dangerous viral and bacterial infections that are known to spread through flea and tick bites. These diseases enter a pet’s bloodstream directly. It is best to prevent an infestation before it manifests. There are a number of remedies both medicated and natural that can be used to treat an infestation once it occurs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some helpful questions to help get rid of ticks and fleas.
Q: Is it all right to ignore an infestation?
A: An infestation should never be ignored. Immediate action should be taken if a pet is found with any kind of parasite.
Q: What do I do when an infestation is noticed?
A: It is critical that care be taken immediately to rid pets from these insects. These are disease carrying parasites that can affect pets in severe ways. Ticks need to be removed individually while fleas can be removed by giving baths.
Q: How do I prevent ticks and fleas?
A: Medicated baths and ointments can be used to prevent ticks from latching on to pets. There are many natural treatments available as well.
Q: How do I get rid of existing ticks?
A: Ticks do not drown in water. These need to be plucked out individually with the help of tweezers. Care should be taken while removing these parasites to prevent the head from getting stuck in the skin. A smooth, twisting motion should be used.
Q: Can ticks be flushed down the drain?
A: Ticks should be disposed of by either drowning in alcohol or flushing down the toilet. While removing the ticks, a bowl full of alcohol or water should be kept at the ready.
Q: How do I remove fleas?
A: Bathe the animal with warm soapy water. Using pet shampoo for fleas is recommended. It is important to submerge the pet from neck down or at least pour warm water. This will get rid of most fleas. The rest can be taken care of with a flea comb. Dip the comb in petroleum jelly for better results. Fleas stick to the jelly easily and can be disposed of by flushing down the drain.
Q: What kind of natural prevention remedies are available?
A: Essential oils such as eucalyptus, lavender, citronella and cedar can be used to ward off ticks and fleas. Plants like sage, lemongrass and mint can also be planted to keep yards parasite free.
Q: How do I use essential oils?
A: A small drop can be diluted and applied to a kerchief or bandana that pets can wear around the neck. For dogs, a small drop can be applied to the outside of collars.
Q: Can Diatomaceous Earth be used?
A: Yes. It can be powdered and sprinkled around pet’s bedding and other areas of the house. This essentially dehydrates the insects until they die.
Q: How do I protect pets while outdoors?
A: A solution of half apple cider vinegar and water can be sprayed on the pets before they head outdoors. Special care should be taken to spray inside of pet’s paws as that is where ticks latch on.
Q: Can ticks and fleas survive in the house?
A: Ticks and fleas fall off the pet’s body to complete a life cycle. They survive in moist and warm places such as rugs and carpets. It is important to detoxify floors and cupboards to keep a house parasite free.