Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are ectoparasites, which means they live outside the host. However, these parasites can still cause deadly harm to your pet from infection and/or anemia. If anemia is severe enough, a blood transfusion may be necessary for the pet’s survival. Fleas and ticks are more commonly seen in warm weather but can also cause harm in cooler weather – this varies by the pet’s lifestyle, lack of prevention, or location. Providers at All Animal Clinic highly recommend flea and tick prevention be given all year due to the hot, moist climate we experience sporadically year-round.
Fleas are usually easily seen on pets with symptoms such as constant scratching and chewing, hair loss, and reddened skin - usually largely focused at the base of tail and down hind legs. These symptoms are caused by the fleas taking a blood meal and the secretion of saliva from biting. It can take as little as one flea to cause a reaction and irritation to your pet. Tapeworms are another parasite that can be contracted secondary to fleas (click here to find out how).
While fleas continuously bite its host for blood meals, the tick is a little different. Once a tick attaches, it inserts mouthparts into the skin then secrets a glue-like substance to prevent easy detachment. After prolonged attachment, diseases – such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever -  from infectious organisms can be transmitted. Tick paralysis is the only tick-borne disease not caused by infectious organisms, but rather by a neurotoxin released into the blood stream that causes progressive paralysis, lameness, and/or fever.
What are tapeworms? How did my pet get them?
Tapeworm larvae are parasites being carried in fleas. Once the flea bites your pet and stimulates the allergic responses, such as itchiness and irritation, your pet starts chewing or excessively grooming that irritated location and therefore may incidentally ingest the tapeworm infected flea. The tapeworm will then grow into an adult in your pet’s intestines. Tapeworms can grow up to 8 inches in length, however, most owners will not see a full-sized tapeworm. The small, white tapeworm segments are most commonly seen in your pet’s feces or around its rear. Symptoms of tapeworms are excessive chewing or licking of the rear or dragging its bottom along the ground. If you’re pretty sure your pet has tapeworms, come by All Animal Clinic for the correct course of treatment, and remember to treat the fleas as well or tapeworms will keep reappearing.
Not sure your pet has fleas, but it’s showing the symptoms?
Look for flea dirt. Flea dirt is flea feces which is a combination of blood meals and waste product. Flea dirt appears as black dirt on pets, hence its name. Still unsure? Try wetting the flea dirt with a damp, white paper towel. If the suspected residue turns red once wet, then your pet has fleas. Come by All Animal Clinic to discuss your best course of treatment (or click here for some helpful suggestions).
What do I do if I have a flea infestation?
All Animal Clinic recommends you follow these guidelines for treating pets and your home for fleas:

  • Step 1 -  Stop by All Animal Clinic to talk with an animal care specialist on the best flea treatment and prevention for your pet(s). All pets inside and outside the household need to be treated every 30 days consecutively for three months.
  • Step 2 – Go to your local hardware or pet store for an indoor pet safe fogger. Treat the home using the instructions and guidelines on the container. Be sure to remove all pets from the house as instructed by the guidelines. You may have to do this consecutively for three months as well.
  • Step 3 – Have someone – such as a pest control company – spray the yard for fleas. Be sure to tell them to spray under the house if it’s a raised foundation.
    • If you live in a neighborhood where feral cats, dogs, or raccoons are running around this may be the source of fleas and it may take longer to get the infestation under control.